It has been a common complaint that “this generation” acts with entitlement. I use quotation marks, because no one really has a good grip on the generational time frames and I often make up my personalized group called “The Natest Generation.” Oh, sure, people can make up time spans just as easy, but until there is some real consensus I’m keeping my own. Thank you.
With this stock complaint is the sub-complaint that everything should be handed to us, we need an award for everything we do, and everything should be the paradigm of convenience. That goes along with the alternate complaint that we want to be mail-clerk CEOs, because working 30-40 years for that kind of power is ridiculously long, right?
Regardless that I’m personally an example to the contrary (apparently, I’m everyone’s “exception to the rule”), there might be some merit to those statements but in a not-so-derogatory manner. It’s quite possibly an unconscious act of defiance. The younger generations are unwittingly trying to make themselves stand out. A meta-understanding of self-awareness, if you will.
If we are to sit and review history in the last 2,000 years, we should notice something. How many people are remembered over that course of time? A few, all things considered. There are more forgotten, many, many, many more. How many of them were peaceful, law-abiding, good-natured, well-behaved folk? Even fewer, yes? In fact, people who touted the virtues of non-violence such as Jesus of Nazareth and Mahatma Gandhi were a big thorn in someone else’s side. Whenever I see a bumper sticker that says “well-behaved women rarely make history,” its de facto ignorance of the male perspective smacks of deception. Do you not realize how many “good little boys” have been forgotten in time? Simply put, historical figures were assholes to somebody.
Now that we’ve established it generally takes bratty behavior to be memorable, we should look at the underlying expectations of the last 2,000 years. If it wasn’t feudalism, it was slavery, and then strict social class delineations that were imposed by a handful of people who had power and wealth, whether it was royalty, slave owners, or an overbearing political structure. Society has relied on the majority of people being marginalized through one philosophy or another. The cogs of the machine must be properly installed for the press to operate.
Now, let’s take a look at today. We have a world that’s populated with 7.12 billion people. That, in and of itself, is overwhelming competition for identity. The Earth is settled for the most part. There are no “new worlds” anymore, and I don’t see a SeaQuest attitude about the oceans or a Star Trek attitude about the stars. Just ask the budget-weary NASA. Shocking philosophies such as nihilism and existentialism have become old hat. Culture and art have already gone through multiple phases. Music is recycling melodies and styles from decades ago. This is the perfect storm for another dark age. Anyone who doesn’t want to be treated like a serf has to act differently somehow.
Maybe we’re just all trying to live the happiest life we can, because there is little in the way of circumstantial developments to be memorable about? What, should we start another war or something?