One of the common themes of articles on millennials is that the generation wants to change the world. And, without a doubt, there has been a lot of change because of millennials.

Facebook, for example. Brought to us by a millennial.

It's hard for me to remember daily life pre-social media. I moved away from my hometown when I was 20 years old, and have returned less than a handful of times. I went to college at a tiny school in a different state. Before social media, I had no idea what became of almost everyone I knew growing up.

Now I do. 

And while that may seem trivial, it's not. When my mom died a couple of years ago, and I posted about it on Facebook, classmates that I had barely known offered their condolences, prayers, and shared memories.

It's hard to capture what that meant, so I won't even try - other than to say that on that day, it meant the world.

My daily life also includes interactions with people all over the world via my writing and following on LinkedIn - a company that while not founded by millennials, has been a significant part of the discussion on the generation.

Ten years ago if someone had told me I would have conversations with influential business people in China and political leaders in Romania, I would have thought they were crazy. If they told me it would happen because of "social media", I would have had no idea what they were talking about.

And if someone explained to me that my daily life would change because of evolved versions of MySpace, I would have really thought they were crazy.

So yes, our daily lives are very different because of tools and innovation created by the generation labeled "Millennials". (Full disclosure: I am one, and I have written multiple times about my feelings on the label. Those feelings are not positive.)

But when it comes to the big issues, issues like poverty, race, global conflict, the environment, and the economy, how much has really changed? To date, how big of an impact has this generation really had?

Not as big of an impact as it could have.

Why do I say that?

Like the 1930's, we are still having the same debates about poverty, income inequality, and the role of government in the private sector. Like the 1950's, we still have state governments passing laws aimed at restricting the rights of specific populations. Like the 1970's, we are still fighting a decade long war with vague objectives.

So, with so much technological innovation - a fair amount of it the result of millennial founded companies - why has their been so little social innovation?

A big reason is that social innovation (or lack of it) is often the result of the political process.

And the generation that has changed much of our daily life has stayed away from politics.

In contrast, during those elections participation of voters ages 30 and over never fell below 64%.

If millennials want to change the world, as so many articles say we do, we need to have sustained participation in civic life. Participating sporadically because of a specific candidate (if at all) is not enough.

And it is not just social innovation at stake. Politics can also hamper technological innovation.

Because of Facebook my brother and I have been able to maintain a relationship, even though the last time we saw each other in person we nearly got into a fistfight at my mom's funeral. (It happens.)

We can do that because of innovation brought to us by this generation.

We need to bring that innovation to the social and political sectors.

But to do that, we have to participate.