“The RIGHT NOW Generation”
Every generation bashes the younger one growing up to replace them. It is a natural instinct, the growing conservatism of the aging as they see new ideas boiling up and replacing the very few things thought settled once and for all. And this is natural–it might even display progress–but there is a sinister character to it as well.
The generation that is taking over the world now are called ‘Millennials,’ that is, those who came of age around the turn of the millennium. These are people who experienced 9/11 as a distant episode of childhood, if at all, and grew up learning only the myths, the conspiracy theories, and the righteous anger surrounding this epochal event. They were teenagers during a near financial collapse, and grew increasingly terrified of reality. They have been raised in an age of the shortest attention spans and the text language universe that causes them to shorten even the word ‘text’ into TXT. It is laziness, as all generations grow lazy. It is being spoiled, as all generations are filled with spoiled brats.
But in this cybernetic present, things are so easy. I remember when I had to research something and was forced to read a book or go to a library and study old newspapers or, at the very least, copy a section from an encyclopedia. Today it is nearly a post-literate age, the spawn of social media and twitterized limitations of space. The rush to form opinions because no one is capable of really listening to what an opposing viewpoint has to say.
We see the fringes of belief becoming increasingly mainstream, and this is also due to the cynicism of my own generation, the blank, so-called ‘X.’ We have taken over the world from our baby boomer parents (or, to quote the late Tom Wolfe, ‘The ME Generation.’) The baby boomers were and still are self-absorbed prigs. They most radically shifted from far left to the far right wing of today. Their children, my generation, grew up in a world evolving technologically far too rapidly for our minds to grasp. Everything had sped up and there is little wonder that so many of us gave up hope, developed crippling depression and turned our anger upon the world.
There are more fanatics of every sort scattered throughout my generation than at any time in human history. And the coming group–the Millennials, the impatient ‘RIGHT NOW Generation’ do not have the patience to hear our cries of rage. It makes them angry. Social media has limited their ability to interact face-to-face with anyone. They have developed a caustic armor of cynicism that keeps them from having to care about or believe in anything. And yet still they believe that they do.
The only way these children seem to think is with hypersensitive sarcasm, a belief in nothing as a defense against anybody who dares to believe in something. They are a generation of debunkers, of contrarians for the sake of fun. Because what is more fun than challenging reality and making the world an even more combative place?
And the self-righteousness of this generation–the kids who were raised as ‘buddies’ and ‘pals,’ and who could never do anything wrong and who were raised to be perfect (despite the bipolar scenes of abuse that their parents inflicted upon them)–this sort of upbringing gave them the sense that, no matter what, they could never be wrong. They never had to be sorry. ‘Excuse me,’ was a creaking relic of the past. ‘Bless you’ was an affront to their right to be themselves. And then there were ‘safe spaces’ to run and hide inside when the world they created got too aggressive for them to endure.
College kids are always obnoxious. They are growing to understand the world and come to conclusions about how they want to live their lives. And so there is a lot of inconsistency and formless rage that helps to lead the child into maturity. But at the millennium, childhood was expanded into a permanent state. This is not to say that my generation–that all generations–are less consumed with themselves and aren’t so selfish that they heap endless danger upon the world. But at least we could sometimes wait. We might honk our horn and scream “Move you stupid motherfucker!” to the car in front of us. But we never drove up on the sidewalk and mowed down as many people as we could. We rarely, if ever, showed up to school with an arsenal and pretended we were in a video game until the enemy shoots back and they think it is time to start over again. It was then only the lunatics. Today it is the unpopular, the bullied, or the simply angry, the same kids that used to sit in a closed garage with the car turned on, or would cut themselves to bleed out all of the pain back when I was young. And the violence of the world is publicly unparalleled since primitive times, when the only form of entertainment was watching a slave devoured by a lion or seeing two brawny men bash each others’ heads in with a mace.
I can sit here and be the same old fogy, the bitter old man who crops up out of every surpassed generation and shake my fist at ‘these damn kids.’ But I won’t, because I can’t, and it wouldn’t do any good anyway. All new generations disregard and replace their parents’ world and think that somehow they can make it better. They form a pop culturally influenced, derivative bubble around themselves and proclaim it utopia. And then they grow, they have children, they bitch and moan about all the stupid shit their peers are up to and they vote contrarians in, conspiracy theorists, extremists or people that honestly don’t give a shit about anything.
But we get what we deserve. We are what we deserve. If only we could reveal the clarity to understand that we have no one to blame but ourselves. Who knows? Maybe the children will win their crusade after all. . . .