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An Open Letter to the Alarmist Bloggers of Our Generation

February 1, 2011

I do read other blogs in my spare time.

It’s something everyone should do– read at least one blog. If a person has their own blog especially, then, they should read a blog, online articles, books…

The blog I read today had a post entitled “An Open Letter to My Generation”. In the post, the author (a part of the 20SB blog network, for 20-something years young authors to share their contributions) condemns the generation of which she is a part, detailing the behaviors and faults she is able to observe through Facebook, in the local newspaper’s police report, and even in continuing to go to school with her peers.

Overall, the author indicts the other members of her generation. What are they thinking? Don’t they remember the responsibilities they will have in the future? Aren’t they supposed to be making a difference?’

I’ve seen similar articles/stories/posts, such as this one. Many of them are very inflammatory, most of them are discouraged.

What they all have in common is a running thread of alarmist rhetoric.

Why do authors feel posts of the “Open Letter” type are necessary?

It has to be due to a delusion of the Confirmation Bias (you see what you expect to see and look for. In this case, people who aren’t doing anything with their lives), or something similar. Authors are striving to make themselves known, possibly educating themselves, writing volumes, and they take a look at their compatriots. Facebook provides a host of good examples: “I am so hungover from that party last night”, “What an unbelievable time that was”, “Can’t believe we didn’t get caught by the police!lol”, and similar statements seem to paint a clear picture of this slice of the population.

“What a bunch of drunks”, thinks one author, seeing another status about getting blitzed over the weekend. Another author considers the problem is more in the vein of crime, “How many of my old classmates have I seen in the police reports?”, the author considers as she continues to read the list of minor law infractions.

There is nothing technically wrong with such ruminations. Of course it’s foolish and naive to assume that every citizen, at every point in time, is accomplishing something or staying clear of the law.

However, it’s equally foolish to conclude that your entire generation is a group of drunkards, slackers, and lazy worker drones lacking ambition (other than you go-getting bloggers, right?).

Every generation has its Martin Luther King Jr.’s, its Stephen Kings, its Einstein’s, its FDRs, and its own versions of exemplary figures in each field you can care to think of.

Every generation also has a man that could grow up to commit the atrocities of Hitler. It has women who could grow up to abuse their children. There will be men and women overusing their power, breaking laws, and acting in ways which further their desires at the cost of others.

So when you look around at your peer group, remember that the majority don’t look like the people they will become. Yes, the thoughts and actions we take now will affect our futures, but realistically they do not preclude many futures. Look at the great work done by Malcolm X– a drug dealer, pimp, and criminal who became one of the greatest political leaders of his time.

Realize that some partying, some drugs, and some bad decisions aren’t the end of a life. Rather, they are usually the beginning of a long road to maturity. For some, the road is longer and harder than it will be for others.

For those of you who make intelligent choices, I applaud you. You are doing yourself a countless number of favors by keeping yourself free of influences that could cloud your judgement, make your life more difficult, and inhibit your personal self growth.

However, the pride you should be receiving from yourself and from others is far from a license either to judge others or declare the current worthlessness of your generation. If we were to judge everything by its current worth, rather than its potential, no human would make it past the utterly helpless stage of infancy.

A pertinent song just came onto my iTunes. It’s “My Generation” by The Who. The entire theme of the song is the persecution the generation of the time received from those older generations; they were condemned for their music (emerging rock and roll), their choice in cars (reportedly, Townsend’s car was ordered towed by the Queen Mother, as it offended her, which was a partial inspiration of the song), and other lifestyle choice (“…just because we get around”).

Bloggers, you’ve left shielding your generation from attack to take on the job of spearheading the same criticism. In short, calm down. Things will be okay. Your generation will step up to the plate in time.

I know. It’s my generation too.

As always, I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and questions, so leave them below! Have a great day.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. chris permalink
    February 1, 2011 9:30 pm

    Good assessment, everyone can change, and no person is doomed to a life of sloth and failure if they decide one day to start maturing, and working for those things that they really want. Advanced Biology in senior year was a reall eye opener for me, that not every teenager that appears to be a druggy is in fact stupid, if they were we would have many more arrests then we do even today!

  2. Ryan permalink
    February 1, 2011 10:31 pm

    ya ive found some of the same criticism on line and by other people face to face… usually the people who make harsh judgments like that tend to be the slightest bit arrogant. one thing i do realize is that facebook seems to dilute the term friendship. that is the price we pay for efficiency.

  3. JstaParrothead75 permalink
    February 1, 2011 10:45 pm

    Well put Miles! You certainly have a point, and have articulated it well. HOWEVER, what if the other side of this argument takes it one step further and says that perhaps as a result of the increased acceptance, and almost encouragement, of these types of behaviors, society has changed as a whole? Certainly late teens-early 20’s have always engaged in these types of behaviors, but has the increased acceptance, and consequently indulgence, in fact changed how these people then face their later adult life? Without doubt, Malcolm X is the exception and not the rule as our prisons are filled with the Not So Malcolm Xs. Things that were considered unacceptable were treated as such in the past; however, as this kind of mentality has become increasingly in the minority, has it affected a person’s view of reality? Moreover, as you look at how kids in general have changed and the behaviors that are now tolerated and almost rewarded at home, has it affected us as a society? Will it? Maybe the issue being discussed is intimating that it is symptomatic of something much bigger? Perhaps the author of the above mentioned article, was hitting on something that needs to be explored a little deeper- whether they knowingly did so or not?

    Regardless, both blogs are very well written and thoughtful approaches from two different viewpoints- each with their own merit. Keep thinking and keep writing!

    • February 1, 2011 11:07 pm

      This is a shining example of a well-done, thought-provoking comment, one that is the beginning of what would hopefully be a great discussion.

      In response to such an argument, I would say that my argument is not an acceptance of the behaviors (drinking, doing drugs, partying, breaking laws) so much as a caution against personal judgement and alarmism.
      It would be ignorant of me to say that we are not affected by an increased acceptance of certain behaviors that were once taboo (regardless of their legal status either in the past or now). Everything affects everything, as it were, and this is obviously a part of that.
      I can say with certainty that I agree; the typical late teens-early 20’s behaviors described here have drastic consequences, both for society as a whole and for the individuals in question.
      However, I would beg the point that as individuals, these behaviors are not death knells. Rather, they are more like the oft-cited “phase” that parents like to use in explaining away a strange child 🙂
      Yes, for some the consequences of, say, drinking are dire: some huge number of “party-goers” who like to drink on the weekend in college never stop drinking and continue until their untimely deaths later in life. However, look at that problem from the other angle. In America alone, there are over 17.6 million recorded cases of alcoholism. So how many of those going to receive a higher education would have struggled with such a disease anyway?
      The main rub of the “Open Letter” type posts is the level of fear and sometimes straight alarmism that they serve to spread. From the way these posts are made, America is going to burn in twenty or thirty years when we have no one of competence left alive– that’s just not true.
      Secondarily, I would also say that human respect and dignity play into this for me. It seems to me that anyone indicting their fellows for such behaviors is assuming a moral high ground due to personal choices such as whether or not you go out to party on Friday night. There’s far too much more to each human being than such a small trait, and each human being deserves more respect and dignity than they would receive, were this the kind of judgement that mattered in their lives.

      I’m sure we all have more to say on the subject, so thanks for commenting and getting this discussion going!

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