An open letter to my generational elders:
Refer to the water cycle, Chapter 10 in your textbooks. As water rises higher and higher it is absorbed by clouds like a sponge. Eventually, these clouds reach their saturation point and can’t withhold any more water. The saturation is released as rain. Conversely, my generation–not quite old enough to bear the Gen-X name, suggestions welcome–is really the first to have to deal with a similar saturation point. We’ve been molded into a pill-popping collective of zombies with no idea of scope. We walk around in a melancholic haze, sending the psychologists to the bank happy, barely making it through college with the slightest of effort. Our attention spans have been whittled only to the length of the latest flashy commercial. We are unprepared to accept the reigns, I’ll readily admit that.
Unfortunately, we’ve been born and raised under the warmth of neon lights and harmful rays. At all times, from all angles–TV’s glow, computers are constantly running, fluorescent bulbs blanket us. We’ve been saturated with propaganda and synaptic carcinogens–billboards, commercials, pop-ups, carefully researched demographic material, multi-million dollar marketing budgets. Yes, you’ve experienced it with us–but the sterile specter of big business had as much a part in our upbringings as our parents did. Ask someone my age about their childhood, they’re more likely to tell you about what TV shows they watched and toys they had before they mention their family.
The result is clear–we’ve become a collective of aspiring reality stars and professional socialites. We throw money away annually on new technology, released in carefully calculated increments in effort to extract maximum profit, so that we can constantly contact each other. IM? E-mail? Cell? Text? Blackberry. We cannot deal with silence. Every inch of space has to be filled with something–the hum of the TV in the background of other acts. We can’t comprehend the idea of existing, if only for a brief few seconds, inside our own brains. We can’t make plans for the future, get some direction, when it’s hard enough keeping order with the new spring line and oh that new fast-food speciality sandwich. So turn on the TV and take a look at my peers. Eating worms for money, playing a role for more air time, handing off our dignity with each passing Fox reality pilot gone wrong. Most of us don’t speak passable English, can’t write 100 words on the Holocaust, don’t know the names of the faces on our money. Education dollars are sparse, and really who has time to learn? When Mos Def said, “Young bloods can’t spell / But they can rock you in Playstation” he wasn’t limiting his sight to urban gang members.
By giving the parents of America a break, improving our incredibly flawed economic system, making it easier for them to support a family with only one job and therefore giving them more time and encouragement to spend with their family, our children will experience a properly nurtured adolescence. And then, if we have properly instilled in them a true sense of values, they’ll avoid the pitfalls of imperialistic materialism that sets the standards for our bankrupt society today. They’ll want to better themselves as people–become more well-rounded humans–and hold more value in that then accumulated possessions.
I don’t defend the direction my generation has taken and I’m certainly not proud of it. A selective minority who have somehow managed to remain sane are disadvantaged by the association they involuntarily bear. The dark cloud of stagnation hangs over us all like the comedown from our blunted heights bogs us further, even those who overcome our laissez-faire childhoods and try to actually make something of ourselves. There is nothing more disappointing than hearing the word “faggot” shouted within the confines of an institution of supposed higher learning. By peers. Despite America’s PR image we are not, sadly, a free and open nation to cultural variances. We still have a very real problem with racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance, and in some ways–seeing it everyday–it is a fire that burns in the heart of my generation with a significant severity. Now more than ever our nation’s young adults are under orders to doubt what looks different. It’s a tense time and our most volatile demographic is now trained with the scent of blood. And it seems everything’s going to explode. Except this time it might be on our soil.
So no, there is no defense for this behavior. It seems unlikely we pull our lower halves from the quicksand currently devouring us, and become enlightened as a whole. We are essentially bound to being, at best, a mere footnote in the vast specter of human existence. And at worst, a small cancer which seems so much worse given the tools at our disposal. We’ve been granted the gift of being the world’s most advanced creatures, and we harness our incredible potential for the work of evil.
So while bemoaning what my generation has become, understand that you’ve had a large part in creating us. You’ve realized the profit in our ignorance and you’ve exploited us. As a result America is losing ground. Slowly new empires are building, crafting mission statements that aim towards intellectual and technological advancement. Us? We’re paying $1.99 to have funny jokes sent to our cell phones every day.
Maybe we’re a generation on the brink… On the brink of societal implosion, failure. Will we be destined to live in the foreign environment of looking up at other empires? To be the whipping post instead of the whip? Sadly, my generation has the opportunity to right some eternal wrongs and the resources to start another breakthrough for the human race. Instead, the only “counter-” in my culture has been “productive.”