The passive cynicism of the millennials may simply be a result of living in a world of fiction. If most of what you see and hear is bullshit, you’re going to assume everything is bullshit. It is also impossible to have trust in people that lie all the time, so this sea of mass media is self-defeating as a propaganda tool. The Russians during the Soviet era assumed everything told to them was a lie, which made an already cynical people into the first no-trust society.I have twenty millennials who work under me and my perception is that truth isn't even held up as something they tell themselves they're striving for. In the context of the general election it's primarily about how Trump, Hillary, and Sanders make them feel and, secondarily, what direct benefits they represent (like free college).
A few like Trump because he's an alpha male who punches the powers that be right between the nose. A bunch like Sanders because he's caring and tolerant and concerned about those who can't help themselves. One likes Hillary but he--yes, (apparently) heterosexual he--can't explain why beyond "How everyone else feels about Bernie, that's how I feel about Hillary".
None of these kids--and as someone at the very tail end of Gen X by this accounting, I can call them kids--even pretends to care about the underlying veracity of the things the candidates say and do. Not only is there little apparent ratiocination, there's not even much rationalizing.
Regarding the assertion that it is impossible to have trust in people who lie all the time, the GSS has handily asked respondents whether or not they think most people can be trusted since the survey's inception back in the early seventies. The following graph shows, by generational cohort*, the percentages who say that most people can be trusted (n = 36,750):
One-in-five millennials say other people can generally be trusted. The virtual world these kids exist in fosters a solipsism that can mostly be kept secluded from reality in its starkest forms. They simultaneously have access to everybody on the planet and no one at all. Community comes and goes with a tap on a screen. It's 25,000 miles wide and an inch deep. Would you dive headlong into that?
GSS variables used: COHORT(1901-1924)(1925-1945)(1946-1964)(1965-1984)(1985-2000), TRUST(1-2)
* Birth years by generational cohort:
Greatest -- 1901-1924
Silent -- 1925-1945
Baby Boomer -- 1946-1964
X -- 1965-1984
Millennial -- 1985-2000