With the title of his new book (The Way We’ll Be; The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream), John Zogby acts like he can predict the future. Surprisingly, his arguments make a lot of sense. And I hope he’s right. Because I like many of his predictions.
There’s a fair amount of fluff in this book. And a lot of the set up can be tedious if you’re comfortable with the basic tenants of research. But there is plenty of interesting information. Take the comparison of Traditional Materialists to Secular Spiritualist. As with most pollsters, Zogby likes to give groups catchy names. These two groups are introduced with a story about Frederick Tudor and Henry David Thoreau. Here’s the idea, both men look at the same pond. As a leading ice manufacturer of his day, Tudor sees Walden Pond as an economic opportunity for ice harvesting (The Traditional Materialist). Thoreau sees the pond as a metaphor for America’s individualism, liberty, and our relationship with nature (The Secular Spiritualist). And it seems we may be moving in the direction of Secular Spiritualists—less concerned about what we own and buy and more concerned about how fulfilled we are personally and spiritually (and that doesn’t necessarily mean religion).
Zogby also argues that if you want to know what the future will look like, just look at the opinions of those ages 18 – 29. He calls this youngest age category First Globals. First Globals are really changing the game. Many of their ideas, from technology to consumption to expectations are dramatically different than previous generations. They seem more realistic about living in a global environment. They’re more tolerant and embrace diversity like no other generation.
I was particularly surprised about how much the kids these days are comfortable with the gays. I’ve always suspected that younger people are OK with homosexuality, but the number in this book surprised even me. By a nearly two to one margin, First Globals see no problem with same-sex marriage. Almost all of them have friends who are gay. And in this case, the phrase “some of my best friends are gay” doesn’t seem like the preface to an anti-gay argument.
Sure, even in this book the young can come across as frivolous and impetuous. But it’s been a long time since a book about numbers made me feel real hope for the future.