We all know that pop culture has a huge impact on society and what is deemed “cool” or “uncool.” It goes without saying that generations are generally defined by major events that take place and by what is popular in that time. For example, when people think of the 1960s, they think “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” Given the “free love” movement and the impact of the British Invasion, that statement is far from inaccurate. So, what will our generation be remembered for?
1. The election of President Barack Obama
No matter your politics, it is obvious that the American people electing Barack Obama was a huge turning point for our country. No, the 2008 election did not signal an end to racism and social injustice, but it did send the message that things are slowly but surely getting better.
2. The "Harry Potter" Series
Walking through the halls of any public school, it was difficult to find someone who hadn’t read or watched the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling. Between the books and the movies, children and young adults alike were under a spell. The brand is worth an estimated $15 billion and the books alone have sold over 500 million copies since 1997. Now, that’s wicked.
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3. Justin Bieber
Ah, Justin Bieber. You either love him or you absolutely hate him. Regardless of your feelings, no one can deny that the Biebs, for a time, took over the world. You couldn’t turn on your television without seeing him on the screen, the radio waves were filled with a seemingly pre-pubescent voice, and every time he messed up, he did so with the whole world watching. When historians are digging through the remains of the 2000’s, they’re bound to find an overwhelming amount of pictures of crying girls and side-swept hair.
4. Same-sex marriage
Often considered the greatest civil rights movement of our generation, the idea of same-sex marriage was often the source of controversy. History was made on June 26, 2015, when the US Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, making marriage equality legal in all 50 states.
5. 9/11 attacks
Despite only being 4-years old, I, along with many other millennials, remember where we were when news broke of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. However, our young age at this horrifying and heartbreaking moment in history greatly impacted our outlook on foreign affairs and what it means to be an American. The majority of millennials have no recollection of life before 9/11 and the decisions made as a result of this tragedy will likely be reflected upon for many years to come.
6. Police brutality and the "Black Lives Matter" movement
Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, activists joined together to create the Black Lives Matter movement, which focuses on raising awareness of police brutality towards African-Americans. The group gained notoriety during the uproar in Ferguson, Missouri as a result of the tragic death of black teenager Michael Brown.
7. Smartphones and social media
If you’re under the age of 20, you’ve probably been told that you use technology too much. To be fair, it’s not really our fault. While some of us remember the days of dial-up and landline phones, the technological evolution of the 21st century took place when we were young kids. To many of us, technology is second nature. While there should certainly be a balance between the time you spend online and the time you spend talking face-to-face with people, there is no denying that technology has given everyone the ability to follow news stories, and keep in touch with family and friends around the world, just to give a few examples. Sure, historians might have to dig through a ridiculous amount of selfies in the future, but that tiny inconvenience is definitely worth the benefits technology provides.
8. Hurricane Katrina
To many, images from the disaster that swept along the Gulf Coast in August of 2005 were horrific. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster that ever occurred in the United States, causing over $100 billion in damages and took the lives of over 1,200 people. This tragedy pulled Americans together to help those in need and also to raise awareness of what many considered to be a failure of the American government to assist the affected states before and after the storm.
9. The "Twilight" Franchise
Regardless of whether or not you read the book series by Stephenie Meyer or watched the installment of five movies, you probably knew exactly what "Twilight" was about. Feuds between members of “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” swept the classrooms of middle schools and the first film alone grossed around $190 million. That’s something you can really sink your teeth into.
10. Reality TV
Let’s be honest: The majority of Americans can name more Kardashians than they can name members of Congress. Between the "Little Couple" and contestants on American Idol, we ,as a culture, are obsessed with the “everyday people” that grace our screens. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; I myself have a slight (or not so slight) obsession with season eight American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert. Guilty pleasures are a part of everyone’s life and for many millennials, reality television fills that void.
So much has happened over the last two decades. It is impossible to predict what innovations, world issues, and pop culture trends will come about in the next several years, but one thing's for certain: When people think “millennial” in the future, these ten phenomena are sure to come to mind.