04 December 2007

Book Review: Generation Me is our worthless generation

I was able to order the 2006 book "Generation Me" by Dr. Jean M. Twenge while over here in Iraq and give it a good read in my downtime. It was a well-written book that conducted statistical analysis of folks, like me, born in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The book does become repetitive at times, but it definitely drives the point home that due to the obsession we have with ourselves and compulsive hedonism, our generation is in a lot of trouble.

There is an excerpt of Dr. Twenge's book that can be found here, and I've taken out a quote that I think sums up our generation pretty well.

"The individual has always come first, and feeling good about yourself has always been a primary virtue. Generation Me's expectations are highly optimistic: they expect to go to college, to make lots of money, and perhaps even to be famous."

This self-centered approach to the world is not conducive to solve any of the world's mounting problems. Terrorism, environmental woes, and massive national debt are issues that are not going to be resolved by putting up Facebook pictures of the latest frat party. The media empire has fed us a long list of idols we should falsely worship. Paris Hilton, a worthless woman who has had every opportunity handed to her to do something meaningful, but chooses to wallow in her own self-decadence. Football players with drug charges are paraded around on TV with their entourages like they're some kind of heros. Truly, it is the celebration of stupidity and apathy. Politics of my generation seems to be more about looking out for your own self-interest and just attacking the other side instead of actually trying to fully comprehend what the issues are (see the chickenhawks and hippies tag). What the hell has America become! During WWII young men and women pulled together to defeat a common foe. Now a small percentage of the population is sent to two ongoing conflicts and other parts of the world while the majority of "Generation Me" drowns in it's own opulence. The book also points out that young people are just "so depressed", because their employers don't give them a salary for a BMW and a condo. Most people go to college not to learn, but rather to get a high paying salary in a good job afterwards. Unfortunately, material possessions mean nothing when the society you live in is completely messed up (think of the Roman Empire).

I believe it's time to seriously re-examine our common values. One thing I've learned in the military is that the paradigm of endless consumption wrought on the citizenry is utter bullshit. You really don't need all the crap the companies try to sell you (did anyone get the new iPhone!). I strongly believe that the government and the large corporations have an interest in keeping the citizenry pacified with endless gadgets and government programs to keep us in debt and to shut us up. But by buying into this nonsense like sheep, that does not absolve us of responsibility. Now I'm not advocating that everyone go run out and join the military, even though we do need more good people. What I am suggesting is for these little darlings to devote some "precious" time to getting smart abut the current issues we are grappling with in the modern world. Then perhaps they can take it upon themselves to contribute in some way to making society as a whole better.

Paris Hilton: stupid, lazy, hedonistic, and fabulous. The symbol of my lousy generation.


Thomas said...

Being a GenX-er (35 now), I think you absolutely are right. We are among the few who have the "wherewithal" to go and do what is necessary to maintain our nation, but too few do, regardless of what's happening in other countries.

Other countries, you say? Like Mexico, where we take Spring Break? Or Canada, which is, um, let me think...north of uh, ...hold on...uh...north of New York City?

Oh, wait...there's this other place, Iraq. Like, Americans are so totally not having fun there. It's like Canada with guns, right?

WAKE UP, PEOPLE! Americans are dying in Iraq every day, and it's not from the protected class. No Paris, no Brad Pitt, no Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. No Bush twins, no candidates' families, no Senators' sons (to quote an old CCR song, 'Fortunate Son').

No Hillary, No Barack, No McCain, no Mitt Romney. And certainly no Bush or Cheney!

Don't look for those types out there in Iraq or Afghanistan. Look for tired, smelly Americans who give ther all every day and might get to go home to their families in the next year. Look for those who dream of working their way up the ladder and doing their best.

Every goddamn day.


LT Nixon said...

Great comment as always IV. I agree that we are tired, but we are only sometimes smelly. Of course I'm one of the lucky few who lives in a wet trailer in Iraq. We need more young people to get involved with all aspects of our society instead of just celebrity worship and petty hedonism. Thanks for the post!