A sobering realization: I have 11 months left of being young. Well, to be more precise, I have 11 months left until my 16-25 Young Person’s Railcard – a little orange voucher that entitles me to a third off ticket prices on Britain’s dysfunctional railways – expires for good. I recently renewed it for the last time with a sense of wistful dread; I’ll soon be cast out into the world of responsible adulthood.
Or will I? Only a few weeks ago, the rightwing Conservative government, desperate to rally young people flocking to the Labour opposition, announced a pilot scheme: the millennial railcard. This would introduce the same fare discount for people up to the age of 30. Just like that, I felt my youth extend by another five years.
The railcard is a telling development: you know the economy is in dire straits when even 30-year-olds can’t be expected to pay adult rates. It relates to an idea that lingered in my mind as I researched this edition’s Big Story: millennials are trapped in permanent adolescence, locked in a straitjacket of youth.
Speaking to and reading about under-employed and resourceful young people, from graduates in the Democratic Republic of Congo to migrants in Naples, I saw the outlines of an exhausted generation who want nothing more than to grow up.
The stereotype of millennials as work-shy and mollycoddled faded under scrutiny. As I hope this collection of stories demonstrates, they are a cohort who work ceaselessly: both to survive and, crucially, to create the conditions for a better future.
As this is the first issue of another Brave New Year it also carries the Unreported Year, which focuses on stories that were sidelined by the dominant media in 2017, such as indigenous resistance to mining projects in Brazil and ‘artivists’ demanding peace in South Sudan.
At the back is a Q&A that evokes another generation of young radicals, as New Internationalist’s founding editor, Peter Adamson, recalls how student campaigning in the early 1970s was the springboard for starting this magazine.
Yohann Koshy for the New Internationalist co-operative.
What is life really like for millennials? What kind of jobs do they do? What do they make of their precarious futures? We look at the lives of three young people across the world: a Gambian migrant in Italy, a Dalit student in India, and a trans vlogger in the UK.