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LNGenZ Survey: What Was the Key Event of the Last 100 Years?

Most polls are aimed at adults – but LN GenZ offers young people a chance to be heard.

By:  |  February 18, 2022  |    898 Words
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What was the most significant event of the last 100 years? That was the question Liberty Nation GenZ recently posed in a reader survey. Lots of polls exist for adults, but young people are rarely asked what they think. We hoped to present something a little different and get our young readers’ opinions. So, what did the respondents say?

The Results

We gave six options for important historical events, plus an “other” option and a comments box where people could give their own answers.

poll piechart (1)

Here are the results:

  • World War II – 28.9%
  • COVID-19 Pandemic – 22.7%
  • Invention of the Internet – 20.6%
  • Civil Rights Movement – 18.6%
  • Other – 4.1%
  • Moon Landing – 3%
  • Cold War – 2.1%

When it came to the “other” option, not everyone left a comment – but half of the comments said the election of President Donald Trump was the most significant event.

World War II

The most popular response was World War II, making it the winner of our survey. There’s no doubt the conflict, which ran from September 1939 to September 1945, was one of the most important events of the 20th century. With more than 30 countries involved in the fighting, this was the biggest and deadliest war the modern world has faced.

While many countries fought, the main participants were the Allies (U.K., U.S., and the Soviet Union) against the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan).

GettyImages-522603466 World War II

World War II (Photo by TASS via Getty Images)

As well as the suffering caused by the war and the Holocaust, here are just a few reasons WWII could be judged the most significant event of the last 100 years:

  • New technologies were developed to help the war effort, including the ballpoint pen, radar, penicillin, computers, the atomic bomb, jet engines, and the first rockets.
  • It led to major power changes in the world. Two superpowers emerged from the war: the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. This led to the Cold War, the next big conflict of the 20th century.
  • WWII may have led to the final collapse of the old 19th century empires, with many countries declaring independence over the next decades.
  • To avoid another big war, international organizations like NATO and the United Nations were founded. They are still active today.
  • Women became more active in the workplace, leading to social changes.
covid GettyImages-1212056096

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

COVID Pandemic

The second most popular response was the COVID-19 pandemic. This may show that, whatever we are experiencing at the moment, we tend to think it is significant. When looking at history, not many epidemics stand out. By far the most famous is the Black Death, which killed about half the population in medieval Europe.

On the other hand, maybe this pandemic will turn out to be a major event in history. It has caused big changes in society, as never before have our leaders had the power to force the population to stay at home, wear masks, or get a vaccine. What long-term changes will the COVID pandemic cause that we don’t know about yet?

Invention of the Internet

GettyImages-1277084759 girl on computer

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

One young respondent said he or she chose the invention of the internet as the most significant event because “I can’t live without it.” Since Generation Z is the first in which everyone was born in a time when society has access to personal computers and the internet, it’s no surprise that young people can’t imagine life without it. Even adults today rely on the internet for almost everything they do, from work and study to keeping in touch with friends. How will this reliance on the internet affect young people growing up, and even future generations?

Another participant pointed out that information can be controlled online. “The impact of the internet far exceeds war or any of the others,” the respondent said. “If you control the internet, you control information. If you control information, you control people’s perception of reality and their minds.”

History Is All Connected

Something that stands out from the survey is that historical events are all connected, and it can be hard to separate them. One event leads to the next, and so on.

One person left an interesting comment on the evolution of technology in the 20th century. They wrote that the “Moon landing was the capstone event,” but the lead-up to achieving that goal gave rise to many other key technologies, such as the integrated circuit and the microprocessor. “The Internet grew out of these technologies and wouldn’t have happened without them,” the commenter added. “The Apollo [moon landing] program also cemented the US lead in high technology and that, in turn, assured victory in the cold war.”

So, the internet can be traced back to the moon landing, and the moon landing can be traced back to the rivalries and science that came out of World War II, and World War II can be traced back to earlier events. Everything that is going on today has origins far back in the past.

Asking young people for their views on the big questions of our day is always a worthy endeavor. They will be the next people to shape society. With the next generation at the helm, how will the next 100 years look?

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