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Generational Upswing

2007-10-10

Category: philosophies

Many people my age complain about the problems with today's youth. This is nothing new; adults have always complained about the habits of young people. The only real difference is that each generation has new stuff about which to complain.

The "Greatest Generation", those around during the Great Depression and the Second World War, pretty much created the lazy, unwashed hippy generation of the Baby Boomers. The parents complained about long hair, loud rock music, and a general disinclination to put in a full day's work.

Of course, the Boomers were the older siblings and young parents of Generation X. That's my group. The hippies didn't always like our preference for digital music, man-made materials, and our slogan "Greed is Good!" There were slackers among us, but we believed that you worked the long hours to afford the house, boat, kids, divorces, and so forth.

Now there comes "Generation Y," or "Millennials" as they are called. There are already news reports about how these kids go to work and then spend all day on the phone talking or texting their friends. They believe that if the office opens at eight o'clock they should be there promptly about nine-ish, after they've had their cappuccino with extra whipped cream and sprinkles.

I was in a communications class a couple of years ago. In the class the Old Hippy professor often used me as an example Gen-Xer and the rest of the class was full of Millennials. During the discussion of the friction between the two younger generations one of the kids asked me if I blame them for the way they are. I explained that I really blame the Hippies because they've been running our schools for quite a while and they've turned all the Millennials into a bunch of X-Treme wussies. The reactions were mixed.

In another conversation, the matter of a military draft came up. Some of us "older" guys were giving some twenty-teen kids crap because the kids were freaked out about the draft. I had to disagree with my cohorts. I reminded them very loudly that if the young men were willing to go through life knowing that they couldn't man-up when their country needed them, that was their own business.

One of the kids said, rather cleverly, that if I thought military service was so great I should enlist. I asked him what year he was born and then informed him that I left the army when he was two years old. I suggested that it was someone else's turn, unless that was too X-Treme for them. After a brief pause in which the kids sort of looked anywhere else, the conversation changed to other topics.

We can't be too hard on the Millennials. Actually, we can. We are their bosses now. We can use phrases like "Absolute Condition of Employment" and then enforce it. After all, we are doing them a favor by teaching them the toughness that hippy "zero tolerance" rules prevented them from developing. Trust me; they are going to need to get tough.

You see, the Millennials are the parents of the next generation. They are the new teachers in the schools. How well do you think a generation that has been told that confrontation and conflict must be avoided at all costs is going to do at bringing up the next batch of human animals? The next generation of American children is going to come right out of Lord of the Flies.

Who will help the Millennials in their time of crisis? Will it be the Baby Boomers? Nope; the ones who aren't dropping dead of complications from venereal diseases are all too deaf from loud music or too demented from recreational drug use. No, it will fall to the noble Generation X? for a price.

That's right. We will happily send you to "Grow the Hell Up" camp for a moderate fee. We will teach you how to debate effectively, even when you are wrong. We will teach you how to leverage your cash into causing serious harm to someone who has asked for it. We will smack you "up side the head" for our own amusement and still charge you for it. By the time we are done, you will understand that raising children requires that you stand firm from the start and never back down. What's left of you may have a small chance (and a bill complete with surcharge.)

So as you ponder the next batch of Americans, Generation Cyber Mayhem, have a brief smile and think about the things their parents will complain about. Then start thinking about how you can effectively defend your closed community against them.


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