Monday, September 22, 2008

Generation Why?

I've read a few articles about our generation today, and I thought I'd share them with you. 

This is an LA Times articles saying that we are a bunch of over-loved esteem over-filled souls who are losing it due to an undeserved buildup of self-confidence. I don't know that I 100% believe it, but would rather use this as an excellent example of what happens when baby-boomers write about today's "youth".

This is a New York Times article about a 30-somthing who goes to a 20-something wedding, to find a sweet and rather loveable generation, which serves more as a mirror pool rather than a source of self-entitlement. 

Finally, this is a Boing Boing post about the culture war. It isn't exactly about Generation Why? but it is about being happy as a mutant. 

In closing I'd like to say that it isn't our fault that we're calling the milk spoiled. We didn't spoil it, or try to sell it, they did- on both counts. Now, we as a generation are starting to look up and wonder, what happened to that dream they sold us? Personally, I don't find it all that suprising that people are starting to throw their hands up in the air and bitch that the baby-boomers are drinking the proverbial milkshake- from 30 years away. 


Matt Fate said...

One reason that America is loosing its scientific, economic, and technological preeminence in the world is that our youth (in general, of course there are exceptions) today appear to feel that they "deserve" jobs, success, and happiness. This feeling of entitlement reduces the passion and drive that actually fuels success and progress, both individually and on a national level.

If you look at developing nations, you will find on average that the up and coming generation is working way harder on their educations than their peers in America. They value their educations because they have had to fight for them, to sacrifice for them. Americans take it for granted, and get far less out of it as a result.

This will lead to a decline in our competitive and technological advantage, prestige, and ultimately our position and influence in the world at large. Be ready to look up to India and China as our superiors and as the new innovators of the 21st century.

Jesse said...

I agree with your sentiments about the education of Americans. It was much more highly regarded in our culture 30-50 years ago, and since the republicans started chopping up education spending (post-Nixon), we've seen declines in thing like Head Start and GI Bill funding, things of this nature. I also agree that was we are seeing is a decline of the American standing in the world, and that India and China are going to be the next major superpowers while Russia and America nips at their heels, and Europe laughs as they enjoy a higher quality of life than anyone.

However, I think that the sense of entitlement is something of a misnomer today. I think that people are confusing entitlement with genuine disillusionment. Youngish people have been sold on the American dream their whole lives. Work hard, study hard, go through the motions of our system, and you too shall be rewarded. Only to see their jobs shipped overseas, education meaning less and less (ie you need a Masters now b/c everyone has BAs/BSs), and the middle class wages stagnating while the top 0.1% accumulates 99.9% of the wealth in this country.

Personally, I think we all just feel a bit ripped off and jipped and you are seeing this attitude like, I deserve more than this, I followed the rules you established, and now you are saying tough shit. I think that is very different from what entitlement suggests, I deserve this because I'm an American spoiled brat. A significant number of people have done everything that has been asked of them and more, and are still getting the shaft in this new global marketplace.

Matt Fate said...

Anything with the words "deserve" speaks of entitlement to me. Its important to remember that nobody really deserves anything at all period (and so should be thankful for everything they have, however meager it may be) - and especially not things that they don't wholeheartedly pursue and attain through their own means and hard work, and that they aren't willing to defend with their lives.

Believing the American Dream without practicing the skeptical due diligence that would have revealed the fact it has been an illusion from day one (a capitalistic tool to attract immigrants, breed domestic worker bees, and define what happiness should mean to them) can be seen as gullibility in a sense, and a majority stake of the fault for being in this position now falls on those who let themselves be duped. Ya it seriously sucks that they've been lied to - and the liars should be held accountable!!! - but they fell for it and accepted someone else's dreams as their own because it was easy to follow and convenient.

In regards to education, I agree that it is sad and ridiculous that its not been a top priority for every administration we've had. It really should be; education defines the potential of the individual components that combine to make up the nation and economy as a whole. It makes sense, though, that BS/BA degrees mean less now, because as we as a society continue to probe deeper into the workings of the universe and pursue technological advancement, there will be more and more that we have to know to build upon to reach that next level. Its like a social equivalent of Moore's law, but instead of computing speed, we're talking required knowledge base. I'm just waiting for an even higher degree to be established above Ph.D... E.G.M. (Exponential Grand Master) or something, which is awarded more like a Nobel Prize than a collegiate graduation. =p

Jesse said...

Well I think this may have to be a point of contention. While I agree with everything you just said about being duped and whatnot, I still think that we, as a generation, have been dealt a rotten hand. We are being saddled with the poor decisions of the last generation; the environment is going to hell, the financial system they established is crumbling, and health care costs are inflating at more than double digit rates- just to name a FEW.

What I am trying to say here is that maybe it isn't that we are acting entitled, but rather that we are acting disillusioned and skeptical. When the boss offers you a job, instead of saying "OH GOD THANK YOU!!!!!" We are now saying, "Ok yeah that's great, but what are you doing to do for me?" Since we've seen what happens when we trust our elders- they fuck it up, wait 30 years and ask us to pay for them to die comfortably.

Like I said, the Milkshake is spoiled, and I sure as shit ain't gonna drink it, or am I gonna let them drink my Milkshake from across the blowing ally that is 30 yrs of life away.

Jesse said...

Good discourse by the way!