Have millennials killed nostalgia?

BY PAIGE GODDEN/Iowa Political Mercury

The moon landing.

It's a hot topic for Democratic presidential candidates stumping in Iowa this caucus cycle.

The Gen X candidates are nostalgic for the days this country came together to send a man to the moon.

We were braver then, the candidates claim. We were bold and inventive and it was a time when capitalism and our democracy were working together like they should.

As a millennial, born in '89, it has me thinking about whether my generation has bonded over anything as much as the nation did during the moon landing.

Back then there were fewer distractions. If you weren't watching the television or listening to the radio the only things to keep you entertained were other people. That sounds like this millennial's worst nightmare, TBH.

Sure, our generation has seen a number of technological advances. We watched Al Gore invent the internet. We watched MySpace come and go and the rise of Facebook, Google and YouTube. We watched our cell phones change from giant bricks with buttons to small flat screens with no buttons. Then we watched them get bigger again. Because we've spent too much time looking at small screens and now none of us can see. But that's not the point.

We were also around before all of those distractions were invented.

We watched terrible things play out on TV. We watched as bombs dropped on Iraq. We watched the events of 9/11 unfold. And we've watched as gunmen have shot at school children and church and concert goers.

With all of those tragedies we must have been witnesses to something good, too.

We recently witnessed scientists cure AIDS. That's good.

It's also a subject none of my friends have brought up in a conversation.

Isn't that a breakthrough that's as big as the moon landing?

It is. But it's not what my generation is bonding over.

We're bonding over viral videos of a giant rat sneaking a piece of pizza down a flight of stairs in New York City. We're posting memorials to a dead raccoon left on a Toronto sidewalk. And we're liking a picture of an egg on Instagram.

It's not that we aren't bonding over anything.

We're collectively bonding over nonsensical everyday events.

While it may be hard to read the whole way through a column that's already lasted this long, it's important to realize the things we're bonding over shape our community.

The community we're building and the tone we're setting will influence our votes in 2020.

Millennials have the potential to be a driving force in the next election.

According to PEW Research Center, we will likely cast more votes than Gen Xers next year.

In 2016, millennials cast the fewest votes of any age group. We cast 34 million votes and made up 25 percent of the electorate. But, according to PEW, millennials are growing faster than older generations thanks to immigration so “Millennials are likely to be the only adult generation whose number of eligible voters will appreciably increase in the coming years.”

Sorting through all of the memes and gifs we share and the Buzzfeed listicles we can't seem to get enough of makes me wonder where our priorities are. What's important to us?

It also leaves me wondering what's going to happen in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. When millennial candidates take center stage at the Iowa Caucuses (or whatever comes next).

Can you imagine, a 50-,60- or 70-year-old candidate trying instill a sense of nostalgia into a crowd full of millennials?

“Remember pizza rat?” they'll ask.