Every now and then I get a chance to visit with groups of young people. Sometimes I get invited to classrooms to share my books, sometimes I get to speak with groups of teens who are interested in entrepreneurship, and sometimes I get emails or messages in response to podcasts they’ve heard me on or books they’ve read. I get a lot of inspiration and encouragement from those interactions, and I really enjoy them.
I recently got a lengthy email from a nineteen year old college freshman. She had been homeschooled up to college and shared with me some of the things she had observed in her first semester at university. She said:
Young America is essentially obsessed with identifying as a collectivist group. No matter where you go, you get asked questions about your religious or political affiliations, the music genre you enjoy, your ethnic makeup, your relationship status and your sexual preference. Everyone has a diagnosis of one disorder or ailment or another and they want to tell you about it and figure out if you’re on the same meds as them. If you’re not identifying as a member of a certain group, the collective mind of everyone just kind of implodes. It’s like they can’t just get to know you for who you are. You have to have all these identifiers and the beginning of any meeting of strangers is dedicated to figuring out which pre-determined group you belong to.
She continued by talking about some of her encounters with her peers and how fully they have embraced socialism as the “fix” for our country and how frustrating she finds it that,
While young Americans are obsessed with protecting their ability to express themselves to the fullest, and with their own special uniqueness, they fail to realize that socialism leaves no room for free will and is in violation of their unalienable rights. And they immediately turn on you if you try to point it out.
Later, she observed:
Social movements make a disconnected generation feel like they belong to something. The dawning of a digital era gave rise to people only existing socially within the media, paving the way for figurative social movements led by people who have no interest in physical change, but only talking about all the hypothetical things that could happen, and how they think things should be. With the majority of our lives being spent on the internet, of course we are going to be influenced by it, but young people are gravitating towards social movements based on things they are reading on Twitter—meaning the majority of young socialists are unaware of the damage socialism has caused throughout history—because they are unaware of the facts that can be found if they were to leave the Twitter app and do some actual research for themselves. Everyone wants to be “woke” but no one wants to actually learn anything. They are all just living in echo chambers that support whatever their favorite influencer or celebrity is saying.
Although I agree with her about the echo-chamber wokeness provided by social media, something else this young woman said really struck me.
Social movements make a disconnected generation feel like they belong to something.
Wow. I mentioned this to another teenager I had the chance to talk to and she agreed, and expounded on it, telling me that she felt that the breakdown of the family as the central unit of society, and the amount of time that kids are spending in school (many programs allow parents to send their kids to all-day school from the time they are three years old until they are eighteen) has helped to create the ideal environment for kids to be attracted to socialism.
I got to thinking… Since the left is peddling this “new” brand of socialism as “being social” and “taking care of each other” and “not being selfish” and “building a place where everyone belongs,” it’s no wonder kids who feel largely disconnected from real relationships and who have essentially been raised by the public education system instead of their parents are so drawn to it and are so hostile toward learning the dark and dirty history of these ideas.
Someone once said that social media has made us at once the most connected, and also the most lonely society the world has ever known. Although I’m certain there are many more factors contributing to the shocking rise in collectivist thinking among young people, I think there’s definitely something to be said for a disconnected-feeling generation seeking solace and comfort in a movement that makes false promises of familial belonging and social justice.
I talk a lot about the fact that it’s going to be up to concerned parents and grandparents to teach the principles of freedom and liberty to the next generation, but these interactions with these two young women really reminded me just how deep the roots of collectivism have been planted in today’s youth and how vital our work is in turning back this rising tide of anti-liberty thinking.
I’m pretty stoked that we now have our teen books in addition to our original Tuttle Twins series. I got asked about making a set for older kids a ton over the last several years but the timing just wasn’t right until recently. Giving families resources to continue reinforcing the foundational principles of a free society that were taught in the kids books is something I’m really proud of. If you haven’t seen our teen books yet, check them out here.
Talking with teenagers—hearing their ideas and observations—reminds me that they really are still listening to the adults in their lives who they love and respect. We do still have their attention, even if it doesn’t always seem like they’re listening.