On the decline-
My parents were no fans of Led Zeppelin, or the Rolling Stones, and I have little doubt that they saw a society in decline, as did their parents and their grandparents.
Every generation believes itself the most advanced, the most evolved, and that all those who came before were ignorant buffoons, who languished in superstitions, afraid of modernity.
Every generation also believes its progeny are lazily buying into hopelessly inferior ideas, and rejecting traditions that made possible the modern world those very ‘ingrates’ enjoy.
At the risk of being one of those insufferable old fogies, I submit that while this generation’s self - importance and self - indulgence are nothing new, the extent to which those traits are extrinsically reinforced and the intrinsic results of this change are unsettling.
Unhappy smiley faced drones
Unless you live in the heart of the Amazon jungle, you have no doubt heard that the young have their faces in their phones most of their waking hours. This alone is distressing, yet more so is research showing today’s ‘interconnected’ young are both more isolated and more depressed that any previous generation. Try typing ‘studies on depression from iphone use ‘ into Google…
The problem is what so many authors have predicted – we are in the words of Niel Postman ”Amusing ourselves to death.” In an interview with Aldous Huxley in 1958 (skip to 11:00) Huxley predicts that propaganda will ‘bypass the rational mind’ and do it so well that we will ‘come to love our slavery’. He was, sadly, on point.
We have taken from our youth authentic living and substituted well crafted ‘virtuality’: an often obscene fantasy world in which our most atavistic nature frolics without effort, empathy or immediate repercussion, yet always receives a ‘virtual’ reward. With virtual reality, and augmented reality eyewear growing in popularity, one can hardly resist the allure of:
-Having sex with a physically improbable specimen without even a pick up line or a false promise to call tomorrow
-Being a Navy SEAL without worrying about being harmed
-Flying an F-15 into battle with Migs over the Caucases
-Stealing a car and murdering a prostitute – or even a cop
The list is endless, as is the frittering away of a vast portion of one’s life. Yet there is no real, lasting satisfaction in any of it. And that, I postulate, is the reason for the increase in youth depression.
Do you play guitar? How about piano, or violin, perhaps bass? Not everyone in my generation played guitar, and for the most part those who did, were male, and wooing the fairer sex was usually the real reason behind learning how to play. In the world of rock and roll, the heroes were guitarists; young people bought cheap electric guitars with a dream of becoming the next Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck etc. If they stuck with it, they eventually bought a Gibson, or Fender guitar. If they gave up, at least the local music store, or Guitar Center, made some money selling that cheap Fender knock off. Today that local music store is gone, replaced by some generic store, and Guitar Center, once the juggernaut of music commerce, is filing bankruptcy. What happened?
Hip Hop happened.
Fewer and fewer young people are willing to take the time to learn an instrument. Most are too busy with a virtual social life, and the guitar god world is now a small segment of a fragmented music universe in which rap and hip hop dominate. These two forms are centered on ‘loops’ of a three or four note musical phrase, a recycled 80’s aerobics class drum track and limericks containing f-bombs, b- bombs and n – bombs in all their profound combinations. In short, they require no skill, little talent, and even less soul. ‘So easy a caveman could do it’- or a five year old:
So what, you may ask, why should we be concerned about kids liking rap- you must be a racist!?
Actually no. My concern is the lack of challenge, the lack of having to push through frustration, and sore fingers to learn a physical skill. My concern is that the sort of social interaction surrounding playing music is interpersonal, rather than inter - ip address. As to rap as a genre, my concern is that it openly encourages not just sex (music’s been at that for centuries), but violence, misogyny and race hatred, and offers the ear little of interest. It is easy, it is everywhere, and it requires nothing of your mind.
The hook up culture
The current generation has no qualms about sex. They believe (and have been told through the media) that sex is ‘empowering’, that ‘anything that doesn’t injure’ is ok. I’m no prude, yet what I see is that interpersonal commitment, and (aw shucks) love – is being replaced by ‘positive public affirmation of consent’ and then ‘sex’ (not lovemaking) can commence between strangers – (who both like Obama, and even the same IPA?). It is not the openness, it is the emptiness that I find disturbing. Perhaps this behavior, once the province of rock stars, who used drugs and alcohol to deal with how ‘great’ their lives were, has caught up with a generation whose parents treated each as ‘my little rock star’.
All of this leads to a life lived just short of Huxley’s dystopia of mindless pleasure, mindless obedience, and an emptiness so vast, that like a dark cavern, one cannot discern its size or nature without a light.
A lost generation?
Much has been written about the millennials; most of it dark, some amusing, and some frightening. The values of millennials are farther removed from ours than ours were from our parents. Millennials crave ‘experiences’ perhaps to compensate for having no real meaning in their own lives. They reject the notion of staying with a job that lacks immediate satisfaction, adulation, and ‘meaning’.
Because of this, as one of our financial planners related – there is no point in pursuing millennials; “they have no money and never will.” Only time will tell whether millennials will get their act together, but it may be of small consequence; the generation behind them actually takes money and employment seriously. They tend to be more conservative, and much less self – pitying.
There is hope after all.
On the decline-
Are the boomers who made this damn mess just a plague of locusts who collectively won’t retire from their jobs or leave this world peacefully?
I get your point, my generation (back end of the boomers) screwed up utterly in raising a bunch of entitled whiners. We who can retire certainly will, and many (like me) have already done so. Alas, the last recession and the Obozo years meant that millions of boomers are working to try to get to where they should already be - ready to retire not under a bridge.
No one over 60 thinks- ‘man, I’d love to keep working this shitty job for another 15 years’, but a lot have no choice.
I get your point. Although when you make generalizations about an entire generation…I’m a millennial with a job, car, mortgage, and child.
Fair point on the retirement angle - although at my company plenty of boomers just camping out in the mid-manger and senior manager positions. All adult kids - they just “love working” so why retire?
Young skull full of mush. That’s what they are.
Yeah…and the boomers did such a great job passing the baton
Glad they got all the cheap real estate, low tuition, drugs, and sex before they fucked it up for everyone else.
Most of the millenials have their head stuck on a phone and wouldn’t know how to interact with others. Some sit and do NOTHING but play video games looking as if their hypnotized .This has become the GEEK generation .
Some are also spoiled snot nosed BRATS who could use an occasional hand across the ASS. and have a high sense of ENTITLEMENT .
Unfortunately they have been spoonfed the Leftists Propaganda since kindergarten .They recite it like programmed robots .
Nicely written. While life is an evolution of generation and circumstance we pay considerable irreverence to how the millennial arrived at their station in life and as with most things in casual conversation, we over generalize them as a group. They came from somewhere and received their moral and social grounding from someone who in turn received this guidance from parents and society before them.
Many look at the shift in culture as coming from the ‘boomer’ generation and in fact blame boomers for the situation we now find ourselves in. While I don’t absolve my generation for its many unregenerate abandonment of social norms and structures that have served western and in fact most all societies for many hundreds of years, I don’t see it starting with them.
Much blame can be placed on the unwitting actions of their parents, the ‘greatest generation’… After all hip gyrating Elvis never cared much for Led Zeppelin and women removing their undergarments and tossing them on stage was not a function of the 60’s sexual revolution.
The parents of the boomer had a hell of a life to be sure… growing up in the great depression of parents who were pulling their lives together after WWI and then to be cast into a second war by the incompetence of those who revealed in the power they held over a defeated Germany, they had little but a strong work ethic. During the war it was an all out effort to get the job done on two fronts. Women saw the world differently and they had some of the first modern self-help books on the market… Paediatrician come psychoanalysis, born in 1903, Dr. Benjamin Spock. ‘The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care’; Everything you thought you knew about child rearing was out the window… feeding, discipline and general care with the message ‘You do more than you think you do’.
Between Dr. Spock and the evolution of the marriage contract from one of commitment to one of convenience the latchkey kid was born. I’m not saying that they were any more right or wrong than any other generation but a good lot of what happened in the 60’s was fomented in the 40’s and on show in the 50’s. I don’t blame a generation that were raise in the deprivation of the 30’s, worked tirelessly at home and on foreign lands to defeat two enemies for being … misdirected… by the abundance of life that being the only industrialized nation on the planet left standing can bring.
Millennials have been overwhelmed by a whole lot of factors…Miss direction in education, a narrowing of opportunity, the lure of technology and the lefts constant drone about the utopia that awaits. I think their children are seeing a new reality though… one where you will get nothing if you don’t scratch for it.
This of course is the cultural shift that these young people have been caught it… and taught to pursue.
“Hook-up culture is promising you that when you’re a young adult, or even into your twenties, this is gonna be the easy, casual thing without having to put in a lot of commitment, time, energy, drama.
Of course the key word in that sentence is the word ‘commitment’… a word that slowly became delegitimized when a divorce went from one granted because of a cruel and abusive partner to one where ‘irreconcilable differences’ moved to a place where disagreement over movie genre was enough to split up a couple…
“The Dating Project” follows the lives of several men and women who range in age from late teens to forties. All of them are single. All of them would like to get married. And all of them are rather stymied over how to move from single to married.
All of the problems that trouble our country can be traced to one thing. America turning it’s back on God. The Bible contains everything required for man to live in peace and prosper. It’s time we embraced these truths again. If we do not, then our future will be one no sane person would want to live in.