Youth Barometer 2022: Grunge is back!
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Youth Barometer 2022: Grunge is back!

"Act like you don't care, even if you do." The grunge attitude is back among young people.

It's been more than thirty years since the grunge wave from Seattle swept through and shaped an entire generation. Grunge was much more than just a genre of rock music. The grunge phenomenon expressed the idealistic, cultural, and social aspects of the 1990s and mixed them with iconically raw music. At first glance, the grunge movement united irreconcilable opposites into a coherent, socially critical whole. The icons of grunge dealt with the very big issues of their day in their lyrics and talked about them with irony, apathy, and substance at the same time.

Grunge represented the mood of an entire generation. The ethics of grunge did not follow any trends. Said ethics broke with the clichés of the time and countered them with grungy, rough guitar sounds. Today, young people don't listen exclusively to Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden – but the mood of today's youth is reminiscent of a kind of grunge 2.0 after two years of the pandemic.

Less interest in political issues

For example, it is less "in" among Swiss youth to be an environmental activist in 2022 than it was in 2020. Young Swiss people also feel less attached to the climate movement than they did two years ago. In the US and Singapore, the feeling of belonging to the youth climate movement has remained the same, and has even increased slightly in Brazil. This has been revealed in the Credit Suisse Youth Barometer, a representative survey of young people between the ages of 16 and 25 in Switzerland, the US, Brazil, and Singapore.

Young people have very little understanding of the politically hot topic of "foreign infiltration" being debated. In Switzerland, 14% of young people see it as an advantage that there will be increasing numbers of foreigners in Switzerland in the foreseeable future. Only one in ten young people in Switzerland considers the growing proportion of foreigners to be a very big problem. For 57% of young people, the "problem" of "foreign infiltration" isn't a problem or is only a small one. When asked about their relationship with young foreigners, 34% of Swiss youth consider said relationship to be rather harmonious, 30% consider it to be neutral, and 28% consider it to be rather tense. In the US, Brazil, and Singapore, young people consider the "problem" of "foreign infiltration" to be less problematic than young people in Switzerland.

Promoting equality between men and women is no longer as important to young people in Switzerland as it was two years before. Among all of the surveyed countries, activism as regards equality between men and women is less "in" than was the case in the last Credit Suisse Youth Barometer survey. Equality between men and women is least popular among young people in Switzerland. Barely 43% of young people here are willing to campaign for this cause.

Top-5 problems per country

Only one in five young Swiss people now finds it cool to participate in political demonstrations. Demonstrating is most popular among young people in Brazil and least popular among young people in Singapore.

While the trend toward political disinterest among young people is new, another is still continuing: young people in Switzerland are informing themselves at a declining rate regarding current events through the media. While 71% of young Swiss consumed media on a daily basis in 2015, this figure dropped to 59% in 2022. In all of the countries surveyed, the share of young people informing themselves on a daily basis is higher than in Switzerland. At 80%, the need for daily information is strongest among young people in Brazil.

Social media instead of drugs

If you ask young people in Switzerland what is "in" among their close friends, they will most frequently answer with WhatsApp or listening to music. This is followed by Spotify and other music apps, YouTube, Instagram, and Netflix. In addition to other social media, such as TikTok or Snapchat, young people in the US also describe television and email as trendy. In Brazil and Singapore as well, social media, streaming services, and music providers are leading trends among young people.

In contrast, practicing a religion and Facebook are very much "out" among young people in Switzerland. This is followed by drug consumption, political parties, and the military. Drug consumption and the military are highly unpopular among young people in all of the countries surveyed. Among young people in the US, Telegram and soccer are also especially uncool. In Brazil, smoking and youth organizations are "out," as are political parties, smoking, and dating apps, such as Tinder, in Singapore.

Social cohesion is crumbling

Barely one in three Swiss youths finds it important that society gives them a sense of dependency in their lives. Only 18% of young people in Switzerland have an overall positive view of the future of society. Confidence in society as a whole has slightly decreased among the Swiss youth and fell below 20% for the first time in the history of the Youth Barometer.

If you ask young people to which social unit they feel they belong, those in Switzerland will list their circle of friends in first place, followed by their own family in second place. For Swiss youth, third place and fourth place go to mankind in general and the society of their own country. A view shared almost exactly by young people in Singapore, who value family slightly higher than friends. Young people in the US feel an equal sense of belonging to their family and their group of friends, third place goes to mankind as a whole, followed by their partnership, relationship, or marriage. Society in one's own country is only in fifth place in the US. Young people in Brazil feel they belong first and foremost to their family, mankind as a whole, and the society of their own country, followed by their group of friends. A little bit less interest in current events around the world and a lesser sense of belonging to society. This is the "teen spirit" of grunge 2.0.