Although the Generation Ys have been replaced by the Millennials, the following is as pertinent today as it was when I wrote it in January, 2006.
Searching for George Orwell
Every now and again particular people enter our lives that have a profound impact on the rest of it. Friends, Colleagues, Mentors, Spouses, Business partners, School mates, Casual Acquaintances, people you pass on the street, people to meet in the mall, all share the same opportunity for positive or negative influence on individual decisions and most unfortunately sometimes those of our offspring. Sometimes the directional impact is so subtle that one doesn’t even realize it is occurring. Sometimes the impact is so great that deliberation is measured, thoughtful, complete and well executed based on the previous or present influences of another. For most, the inborn desire for acceptance and assimilation has a direct cause and effect role on our emulation of those we find more “together”, better off, better looking than ourselves. In some cases, quite the opposite. Driven by our disdain and determination to not be like or resemble a particular individual, cultural stereotype or personality group causes decisions to be made which may or may not be in our best long term interest.
Enter the great cultural “Oneness” of Generation Y. Seemingly with great organization, this assemblage of young people ages 18 to 25 have performed a baffling anthropological feat. Without formal study or research they have observed the world that has come before and during their lifetime and assembled or hijacked the characteristics of every social group since 1967 that has had the effect of driving mainstream society everywhere to the brink of total insanity.
Even the casual observer (over age 40) is witness to the following history lessons prevalent today at every turn:
In your face rudeness
Uneducated & unsolicited opinion
Unstudied, arrogant and often ignorant political activism – all from the 1960s
Dress styles of the 1970s
Techno Music from the 1980s
Unwavering focus on easy money of the 1990s
Combined with today’s Peacock Syndrome: loud cars, loud music, piercing, tattoos, public unveiling of flesh, overt sexual content in every aspect of their lives, and immense propensity for video experiences to the alienation of all other activities and pursuits, pointless aggression, unfiltered and inexplicable anger, the me first attitude, and the ever popular “I deserve what you have because I want it and I don’t plan to set about working for it” mentality adopted by several of our infiltrating ethnic groups,
There are myriad research groups working on this phenomenon, struggling not only to capture and define this group as a classification entity but also to understand how to make them contributing employees, to harness their consumer dollars and figure out exactly what the hell happened and how to keep it from happening again. Success however seems unattainable.
So how did we get here? Clearly the problem my friends is us. But no one is taking the blame or offering any solutions. Thus we are living through yet another history lesson from the 60’s and 70s. We sit back in our comfortable homes, our drugs and beer replaced by martini and wine, our loud music replaced by the local jazz station, our glass packed mufflers on cars worth less than our CD collection replaced by our import luxury SUVs and we roll our eyes at our offspring and blame their environment, society, the schools, or whatever else takes the bright light of blame from ourselves. We, as our parents before us, have sidestepped the pointing finger of truth and we now watch for the onslaught of a generation we don’t trust, don’t like very much, and wish to avoid whenever possible head toward the halls of economic, corporate, and even scarier, political leadership.
We need a new Toffler, a new Huxley and a new Orwell. We need to make the picture of the future so scary that our children are forced to take notice and act now to avoid the emergence of their children’s children into a world they can neither understand, control or explain. But in history lesson number 3, the image of the future is never scary enough to affect that change. We continue to look forward with hopeful optimism that “something”, instead of us, will change. The scariest part of Orwell is that he was right. And it can get worse. And we’re not likely to do a damn thing about breaking the downhill fall.
We appear destined for a global outbreak. Pandemic disease, nuclear exchange, environmental collapse or worse. We have been unable to bring the future into focus without painting it with rose colored glasses. Thus, it will most assuredly take a catastrophic event that puts the future in jeopardy to get some notice. Throughout history, that cycle is unbroken. And it’s a cycle that gets deeper with every passing. Perhaps one day it will not turn around again.
Thankfully in His infinite wisdom, even with medical breakthroughs, he has granted us only 4 or 5 score years to watch this cycle, with any luck but twice.
Perhaps he is a merciful God