Parents of the World Just Don’t Understand, And Neither Will We In 2020

// Posted by on 02/10/2014 (4:46 PM)

For my post, I would like to discuss Clive Thompson’s article in Wired Magazine, “Congrats, Millennials.  Now It’s Your Turn to Be Vilified.”  I really liked this article because I think it goes along well with everything that we have been discussing in class.  We discussed, for example, Sherry Turkle’s New York Times Article, “The Flight From Conversation,” where she discusses how constant use of technology and social media devices has led our generation to lack the ability to communicate.  However, the fact of the matter is that Sherry Turkle is 65 years old and Clive Thompson’s article leads us to believe that her comments towards the younger generation are to be expected.  Thompson discusses how it is pretty common practice for older generations to be critical of those who are younger.   For example, he discusses how members of Generation X were frequently blasted in articles during the 90′s stating that they were slackers, narcissists, and “their intimacy and communication skills remain at a 12 year old level.”  However, now all those born within the realm of Generation X (roughly the early 60′s to the early 80′s) are all well established adults and the world has not collapsed.  Notice, that in today’s media you never hear word of how the members of Generation X are ruining everything.  It’s not as if those scathing articles written in the 90′s continue to ring true today.  We do not study the many shortcomings of Generation X and continually note how their “narcissistic” and “slacker” mentality is continually making the world a worse place.

HOWEVER, what we do hear in the media constantly nowadays, such as in Turkle’s article, is how the Millennials are increasingly detached and lack the ability to communicate.  Essentially, Clive Thompson makes the claim that accusations of this nature are completely normal, and every generation has to go through it at some point or another.  In the 50′s, senators attested that comic books were causing mayhem for the youth.  In the 80′s, parents worried that dungeons and dragons was polluting the minds of the youth and the walkman would turn all children into anti-social drones.  Nonetheless, every generation grows up and our world continues to be okay.  Basically, it is just a standard reaction to fear what you do not understand.  The world is always evolving and changing, with new ways of doing things each and every day.  What it seems to me is that the younger generation just always finds a slightly different way of doing things, and that tends to scare those who are used to a particular way of life.  Thus, its a natural reaction to point out what is “wrong” with the younger generation.  However, in all reality, they are not really pointing out what is “wrong,” but rather, what is “different” about the new generation.  So congratulations Millennials, its our turn to bare the judgmental eye of the older generations.  Everybody goes through it, but I’m pretty confident that we’re going to keep the world in pretty good shape.  And 20 years from now, I bet we’ll have some pretty interesting critiques of the next generation.  Parents just don’t understand, but then again, neither will we someday.


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Piper said...

I think this is a very interesting article, as it gives some insight into why Turkle, now 65, has shifted her viewpoint on social media. In the past, Turkle used to be a powerful advocate for technology, to the point that she was on the cover of Wired magazine. Although there are reasons why I sided with Turkle during the debate (‘editing’ your life, ‘sips’ of information), I can’t help but now question whether some parts of her argument are relevant in the long run. For example, the idea that technology allows people to lose sight of the present (i.e. texting others instead of talking to the people you are with), has been a phenomenon for years. Think about the rise of MTV and the Walkman–as pointed out in the article– Generation X used these technologies somewhat the same way that Millennials use iphones and social media– as a distraction, as a way to zone out, etc. Although I would argue that Millennials rely on these technologies more than those in the past, I think Clive Thompson’s argument that Generation X is surviving and thriving despite their “faults” and the critiques, is pretty promising for our future. Of course, over reliance on social media and expanding use of robots is something to be fearful of…But maybe this is just an exaggerated fear of the future that happens to every generation. One day, we will be the ones hassling the younger generation about their “faults,” that are perhaps only merely cultural differences.

// 02/10/2014 at 8:27 pm

Rachel said...

First of all, I LOVE the tags on this post. Very funny.

Second of all, I think Thompson is right — each generation is vilified for not being as productive, active, selfless, communicative, etc., as its predecessors. I think part of it comes down to the fact that when these generations are being dissected, they’re usually talking about teenagers and young adults: people who have yet to fully process their sense of self or their own identities. Of course teenagers aren’t going to be the perfect example of what this generation is going to be: they’re just figuring it out themselves.

The interesting thing for me is that a lot of people are pointing to the narcissism inherent in the “selfie culture” of our generation (like this WP article: and how it devalues relationships with others.

And yet, repeated studies have shown that Millenials are more civically engaged and more likely to give their time, money, and attention to people and causes than their Boomer or Gen X counterparts…and I think that says a lot about a generation that people are calling narcissistic, incapable of connecting, or lazy.

// 02/11/2014 at 12:35 pm