It seems as though every day a new article comes out about “twenty-somethings.” The titles usually involve something condescending such as “What’s wrong with millennials?”or “What’s the matter with kids today?” A simple Google search will turn up several of these with no trouble whatsoever.
So what is wrong with us?
In short, nothing.
Upon looking back through literature and media of the past, a careful reader will discover that every older generation seems to ask this of the younger generation. Consider the Anne of Green Gables book series, set at the turn of the 20th century. Early in the books, the sensible Marilla often laments the overactive imagination that plagues her adopted daughter Anne – an imagination most likely brought about by the unhealthy amount of books Anne reads. Of course, this “weakness” turns out to be Anne’s greatest strength as she grows older. Not only that, Anne’s imagination is often the driving force of the plot. If she were not constantly getting into mischief, what would be the fun in reading the books?
Not convinced? Consider the musical Hairspray. This particular musical is set in the early 60s, when the Civil Rights movement was just beginning. As the main character Tracy Turnblad gets herself more and more involved with a local television show, her mother learns to embrace this new culture based around television screens and wild dancing. As the musical continues, we see Tracy get herself immersed in the racial conflicts of her day, all because of this new media form. Again a perceived weakness in culture – television – is used as a force of good. Indeed, in history television was a powerful tool in turning the baby-boomer generation away from racism and segregation.
Then, of course, there is today. Look at our twenty-somethings, they’re all just a bunch of kids! They sit on the computers all day playing their video games and updating their twitter feeds. Society as we know it is in its death throes even as I lament its loss!
Well, as an avid video game player…I heartily agree. Society as we know it is on its way out. And that’s a good thing. Consider for a moment if Anne were not allowed her books, or if Tracy were not allowed her television. Consider what the world would be if no progress had been made since the 1890s. Would we be better for not having smart phones and ipads and laser printers? Would we be better for not having Call of Duty and League of Legends? The thing is, we’ll never know because they exist and there’s no changing that.
As with every cultural epoch, changes arrive for better and for worse. With the novel came the erotic novel. With the television came the couch-potato. And with the video game comes the twelve-year-old who claims to have had intercourse with my mother. But the thing is, we’re the adults now. We get to decide what it means to be an adult. We can turn our backs on these new things and say no good can come of them. Or we can try and find the good in them.
Because let’s face it. Without the internet, nobody would ever know this guy even existed: