Talking ’bout My Generation: It’s Time to Get Over Ourselves and Get Serious About Real Life


Published: October 25, 2007

We’ve become a generation more concerned with how many friends we have on Facebook than how many American soldiers and Iraqi civilians died today.  As I write these very words, there are U.S. soldiers, most of them the same age as the average Fordham undergraduate student, who are dying in a war that few seem to be promoting, aside from the powers that be on Capitol Hill and the White House.  But why should you care when this conflict is happening so far away from here?  What’s the point of worrying about things that you can’t do anything to change, especially when the latest episode of Desperate Housewives or Grey’s Anatomy is on tonight?

Consider how much time you spent today on a social networking Web site or on YouTube and then consider how much time you spent actually contemplating societal dilemmas at hand.  Be honest with yourself.  American college students in years prior concerned themselves with Vietnam, civil rights, women’s rights, social justice and other relevant issues of the time.  Yet now, the notion of apathy comes into play here as social concerns have been all but forgotten in our era of self centralist devotion.  We love ourselves, and we’re not ashamed to admit this.  Aside from ourselves, our possessions are also a defining marker of central importance.  After all, how bad can things really be if the new iPod Nano can now brilliantly play pixilated videos?

Nearly half a century ago, a fresh new rock group calling themselves The Who released a rebellious anthem in honor of their youthful peers who claimed to be oppressed by older members of society.  That song, “My Generation,” now signifies a defining staple of classic rock music as it fiercely addressed the discontent of the adolescents at the time of the chaotic 1960s. Marches, protests, sit-ins, rallies, psychedelic drugs, free love and counter cultural nonconformity soon emerged as the paradigm for the then 20-somethings who encompassed the Baby Boomer generation.  But what can be said of our current legion of 18 to 24-year-olds?  The Boomers, now themselves approaching senior citizen status, have labeled us a group of Peter Pans, a generation that never wants to grow up and develop into mature adults.  And indeed, one would have some difficulty in proving them wrong.

The Boomers will soon begin collecting Social Security and Medicare. That’s 77 million Americans, nearly one third of the U.S. population who will stop working and collect money from the government. We, not them, will foot much of the bill through taxes as we enter the ongoing stages of adulthood and it is doubtful that most of us will ever prosper as our parent’s generation had in the past.  Let us also not forget the endless billions of dollars spent on the Iraq war that will have to be paid by the American taxpayers for generations to come…

I hate to say it, but this era clearly epitomizes a time of selfishness and ignorance.  We’ve chosen personal and material gain as opposed to constructive altruism.  Officials used to shut down college campuses during the 1960s in the face of rebellious and spirited students who would not wane from their positions. Now, no matter how many GO! trips you go on, no matter how many dollars you give to charity, and no matter how many friendly peaceful protests you attend, nothing will prove as momentous as finding novel approaches in creating a change, as evidenced by the influence of the younger generations of previous eras.  Sacrifice your conformity to the masses and lift the veil of ignorance that serves as a source of comfort in your daily life.

While “My Generation” effectively functioned as a poignant protest against older adults, our generation’s music tends to focus on sex, money or one’s own personal feelings.  We sit back and do nothing as the current state of our nation continues to decline.  Racism is spreading, as evidenced by the recent events of Jena Six and the noose left in front of the office of a black professor at Columbia.  Financial hardships and extreme deficits will undoubtedly strike our nation.  Alternative fuel sources have as of yet to be created,  Middle East instability continues, the environment remains in decay … et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

With the world at our fingertips, we refuse to do anything about the growing tribulations of our time.  As The Who said, “Why don’t you all just fade away?” Perhaps this prophetic statement is correct in a sense.  Maybe we, as a whole, will soon all just fade away into the obscurity of MySpace and Bit Torrent. Perhaps it’s time for us to put the iPhones down and start selecting actual causes that have meaning.