Over the last few weeks I’ve asked friends and family to define what trust means to them. Above are an accumulation of their answers! However, I started to notice a trend – Gen Y is far more suspicious to the baby boomers. Which, after close examination makes a LOT of sense.
Millennials have been systematically trained to trust nobody. Over the last decade of my life, it’s been a common thread of trying to determine who in my life is “trustworthy.” Who will keep my secrets? Who will be there for me in an emergency? But the issue runs a lot deeper than that. Through means such as the media and various institutions, we’ve been neurologically trained to question the ‘gospel word’ of the church and the government. Slogans such as “stranger danger” have played on repeat, whilst our parents urged us to learn a martial art in order to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Not to mention that the last decade has acted as a breeding ground for distrust. Terrorist attacks around the globe have led to a whole new level of xenophobia and airport security, whilst the Global Financial Crisis caused more economic insecurity than ever before.
On one hand, thank god for that – living in ignorance leads nowhere good. But at the same time, it’s a shame that we had to be raised in this culture – living in constant fear of being misled, let down or betrayed.
A recent poll of 18-29 year olds by Harvard University of Politics has revealed that we aren’t the trusting kind. The results show that 86% distrust Wall Street workers, 82% distrust Congress, 74% distrust federal government, 50% distrust the police service and 63% distrust the President. Personally, I would trust Obama with my life – but I get where they’re coming from. I would sooner follow Kanye West over a cliff than Australia’s Prime Minister. But, these statistics are still staggering.
It’s been clear since September 11, 2001 that the safety net lifted. Suspicion rose and distrust became pervasive. The fact that we’re so distrustful of institutions is terrifying as it can lead to some very dangerous political consequences. If we all become nihilists, the ability for politics to effect real change amongst the general populace will be virtually impossible. It will be a state of complete anarchy.