Americans like things neat and simple, which is why we like quickie PowerPoint presentations and Top Ten lists. Trim the fat, slice to the bone, then get on with it. The younger we are the more we prefer this lean, mean utilitarian style of compartmentalizing our complex world..
It’s one of the reasons we label and profile ourselves into “generations.” Like the Boomers, the X’s and now the Millennials [those born between 1980 & 2000]. Slap a pithy name on a population and presto now you needn’t study them in detail, simply summarize them in glittering generalities.
Take the Millennials [those young tax exemptions living in your house]. Have you ever thought just how much of your world they have absolutely no working idea of? FDR, Mickey Mantle, JFK, Ralph Kiner, ballpoint pens, Howdy Doody, mail deliveries twice a day, lunches at drugstore counters, running boards, kites, punch-cards, Inner Sanctum and Helen Trent could be from Medieval Bavaria as far as they know. So when you’re talking to them, there’s an immediate language barrier.
Your Millennials are what you have bequeathed the world, but like any planting season it’s hard to predict the harvest. Chances are they are learning stuff you and I never knew anything about at their age, and they will travel their nation and their planet in ways you and I could never afford. What’s more they will travel much lighter than did we, for they won’t be lugging the burdens of such ignorance as hating gays, fearing the mentally ill, making god in their own image and likeness, demonizing things like Marijuana while glorifying Martinis, and cocksure that America never goes to war as the bad guy.
But talk to them and you get the impression that even they can see the traps that hide ahead of them:
* Most Millennials know more about celebrities than they do their own neighbors, because they now have the handheld technologies that let them function in such splendid isolation
* Most Millennials spend most of their life entertaining themselves with these technologies, annually spending $10.5 billion on video games, $ 2.2 billion on college football, $1.3 billion on romance novels
* Most Millennials are so busy buying things they have never had the satisfaction of making any of them
Old age insulates most of my generation from this current inter-generational dynamic. Still, there may be some advice we can offer: “Try to remember, the more things change, the more they remain the same.” The only problem with this ancient, time-honored advice is this: Chances are you Boomers and Millennials will have to get as old as us before it really makes much sense.
Now do you understand why the human species progresses so darn slowly…..?
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