What does it mean to be free in the 21st Century?

       The word free is a very broad term. So broad that if you ask ten people, they will come back with ten different ideas of what free is. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term free means: not held as a slave or prisoner, or not physically held by something. This definition can be morphed and formed into many different things for different people, and that’s what I will study. There are many factors that can shape somebody’s view on what free means, like their age, gender, race, sexuality, and more.

Generational Lens

      The idea of what free means can change a lot depending on your age. As a teen, I believe that free means to be free of rules, and be able to do whatever you want whenever you want. As the years go on, parenting has gotten less and less strict. Society’s view on parenting has made it like this, as traditional parenting techniques are now frowned upon. Kids now are used to having not a lot of rules, which makes the few rules that we do have very annoying. So kids and teens during this time will think that being free is finally having no rules.

       Adults, instead of thinking free is the absence of rules, think that being free is having the option to be whatever they want and use their talents to fit into America, the American dream. A famous writer said, “Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better,” Adults weren’t as fortunate kids nowadays were when it came to many factors like the ability to go to college or many other things that kids now take for granted. These are two different ways that people now vs. people then thought of being free.

Socioeconomic Lens

      A socioeconomic lens is another way to look at the question of what does it mean to be free. Wealthy people now can get away with almost anything. Their idea of freedom is literally to do whatever you want, when you want it, however you want it. They can do what they want, even commit crimes and get of the hook for it. In Texas, a young man was not charged with any crimes after killing multiple people and injuring many more because he was “too rich to know what he was doing”. This is one example on how wealthy people can get away with anything.

       Middle class and lower class families have a different idea of what free means. These families, again, believe in the American Dream and that they can use their talents to their advantage. They hope that they can use their strengths to adequately provide for themselves and their families. If these people play their cards right, they might be able to join the upper class as well. These are the socioeconomic ideas of what it means to be free.


       I hope that this document has made you think about what your idea of what it means to be free is. Does your idea of freedom match up with any of the other ideas? How do you think that these peoples experiences in life have morphed their thoughts on what being free means? I hope you had to think about what you think freedom is and what has shaped your idea of freedom.


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