David Burstein has high hopes and expectations for his generation.
In his new non-fiction book, Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping Our World, he tells how “millenials,” between 18 and 30 years old, can make major contributions to American politics, business, and society.
A 2006 graduate of Weston High School, Mr. Burstein, 24, is the son of Dan Burstein and Julie O’Connor of Weston, and a proud member of the Millennial Generation.
He started writing Fast Future, his first book, while finishing studies at New York University. A labor of love, it took more than two years to organize and write. “I hope people will read this book so they can better understand this generation,” he said.
With 80 million millenials coming of age, Mr. Burstein says the group is poised to become the largest generation in U.S. history.
In 2020, millenials will represent one of every three adults in the country. “As a result, we have the ability to transcend other generations and not just make our lives better, but make the world better for everyone,” he said.
The subject matter of the book, and its title, Fast Future, is near and dear to Mr. Burstein’s heart. “This is a generation that has grown up with the present and the future constantly approaching each other. I wanted to tell that story with that title — how our world is changing and how millenials are part of that,” he said.
For years now, Mr. Burstein has been doing his part as a millenial to help shape the world.
In 2008, he produced and directed the documentary film 18 in ’08, which encouraged young voters to participate in the 2008 presidential election. Following that, he founded Generation18, a nonpartisan young voter engagement organization.
His work on 18 in ’08 earned him a DoSomething Award in 2009, and his story was featured on several million bags of Doritos. His 2012 follow up film, Up to Us, discussed the optimism and resilience of the Millennial Generation in the face of the economic crisis.
Idealism about the next generation is not new for Mr. Burstein. He has long championed and encouraged his peers to strive for more. In a speech he delivered at the 2006 graduation ceremony at Weston High School, he said, “We must not be spectators in our new global world, but active participants. We will be the class that can change this world.”
Fast Future explains how the Millennial Generation grew up with fast-paced changes. Technology, for example, changed significantly as millenials grew up with the advent of iPhones and Facebook. “Our generation straddled the line between the pre-digital and digital world,” Mr. Burstein said.
As a result, he said, millenials understand the old world as well as the new world. “We did research in libraries at first. But my generation now has total fluency in technology and we know how to use it intuitively,” he said.
Other things also shaped the lives of millenials, Mr. Burstein said, such as 9/11, school campus shootings like Columbine, and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. “The chief survival skill for illenials is keeping our balance in this sometimes mad, sometimes surreal, always changing topsy-turvey world,” Mr. Burstein wrote in Fast Future.
Instead of growing apart and becoming alienated from one another, Mr. Burstein believes the adversity his generation has faced has helped them deeply connect with each other.
He concludes his book on an optimistic note: “This fast future world that we are speeding into is not some kind of techno-dystopia; it’s one where once-intractable problems can be solved and the best of our new ideas, innovations, technologies, and diverse experiences can yield a new kind of American and global Renaissance. And the Millenial Generation is in the driver’s seat, shifting the gears into forward.”
Mr. Burstein is about to start a 20-city book tour to promote Fast Future, and is traveling to places such as Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. “I’m taking this to audiences all over the country, hoping to talk to as many people as possible and share my message,” he said.
Locally, he will appearing at Strand Books at 828 Broadway, in New York City, on Friday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m., and at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Westport, on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m.
Fast Future is available at bookstores nationwide and on amazon.com.