Think We’re the Worst Generation Ever? Think Again

Grant Gravagna

"Humans will always be loving, jealous, ambitious, compassionate beings comprised of wants, scruples and confusion."

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This generation and their all-consuming use of technology is surely going to destroy the world. Closed into little personalized bubbles, they are destroying everything near and dear to American values: community, purity, and industriousness.

As Bob Lutz of Forbes put it, the “Y” in Generation Y stands for “Why work?” “Why earn money?” “Why wear decent clothes?”

This familiar perspective is erroneous and narrow-minded. These attacks ring of the traditional fear of change often spouted by older generations, blind to their own experiences as youngsters.  The most common attacks are that technology has made us insular, lazy and uncultured. However, closer investigation into these criticisms show that if anything, our generation has made improvements, not regressed.

People point to the personal computer, iPads, iPods and other similar gadgets as insulating us from the outside world. They claim that more than ever we are personalizing our lives so we don’t ever interact with those unlike ourselves nor ever experience different points of views.

This completely overlooks the reality of previous generations. Prior to the invention of new technologies, it took money and time to see people and points of view different from those predominant in your own community.

It is a basic sociological principle that people choose to live in neighborhoods with people like themselves. So previous generations had just the same amount of “self-insulating” without any opportunity of access to the rest of the world.  Even someone with the most personalized web page is still likely to come across some different perspective within an hour of surfing the web.  Technology makes global communication not only possible where it was not before, but makes it inevitable.

People also claim that this generation is lazy and apathetic. They say we don’t feel we need to work hard when technology does much for us. Today’s teenagers, glued to powerful mobile devices, have less motivation than previous generations, lured by technology into not doing work.

This claim defies basic logic. Since the beginning of time, humans have been evolving and have been becoming more and more technologically advanced. If there were an inverse relationship between access to technology and motivation, then by this point in time our society would be filled with a bunch of do-nothings. The fact that we have progressed so much in spite of getting more and more technology shows that motivation has nothing to do with technology.

Another dagger people throw at this current generation is their lack of culture. People throw their arms in the air to the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo and coarse rap lyrics, declaring it is the advent of the apocalypse.
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However, reality television has many overlooked benefits. It allows people to experience different lifestyles sheltered from scripted programs. It opens people up to the real world and breaks insular bubbles. And while the message of all rap songs may not perfectly coexist with the cleanest and best values, music rarely does, and quite honestly, it would be pretty boring if it did.

Since the 1920s, music has been the special muse of the young, continually challenging traditional values and allowing for cultural liberation. From jazz to rock n’ roll, music has always been under scrutiny and seems unfair to single out the day’s newest popular genre. It’s doubtful many naysayers’ parents were fond of Bob Dylan’s lyrics about everyone getting stoned.

Listen, I’m not saying that all the world’s problems have been solved. I’m not saying that we have the ideal culture that is most balanced to all points of views. Technology does present new challenges and does change society in ways that are not always positive.

However, it seems silly to resist change. Times and culture change, but ultimately human nature doesn’t. Humans will always be loving, jealous, ambitious, compassionate beings comprised of wants, scruples and confusion. The most we can hope for is to take advantage of changes as they come. I think this generation, just as past and futures ones have and will undoubtedly do, has done a remarkable job adapting to changes in a way that best accommodates the human condition.

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