A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Essays, Just for Kicks, Opinion

Generation Y

Kids these days are getting all being told that they are special too frequently. Too much self-esteem and too little humility seems to be the main complaint about growing young men and women. The everybody-gets-a-trophy culture seems to be a problem, from the perspective of those who live outside it. Many adults are beginning to realise that what they’ve done has huge potential to raise a generation of self-obsessed wastrels, people engrossed in their own greatness, who believe that they are far more powerful and more important than they are. But, more and more, children seem to realize that they can’t change the world, and they’ve gone about not changing the world in a very Generation Y kind of way.

I personally, have received trophies when I shouldn’t have. I’m not particularly sure I was involved in a single winning game, but that trophy still sits in a cardboard box somewhere. Bands seem to dish out varsity letters just for the sake of signing up for band and looking convincing when you pretend to play. But, I do not think this has made me special, and I don’t think anybody around me has either. I know that I have no athletic aptitude or musical talent, and I know that my standardized test scores are really best predicted by my socio-economic standings. So, I’m already skeptical of any real amount of ego-inflation caused by our culture. Of course, whether or not my skepticism is a result of this culture, is beyond my ability to say.

But, teen depression is on the rise. Suicide hotlines, anti-bullying organizations, marijuana and other drugs which can only serve to alleviate the stresses of life are all on the rise. Do these things sound like the need of a generation which thinks itself perfect? No, these are the needs of a generation skeptical of their own talent, a generation lacking a cause to rally behind.

The normal things that unify a civilization are all on the downfall. Anti-war protesters have long ago ended the days when the men and women of a time could rally themselves behind an unjust war. The United States has no state religion, and more reformations and schisms and non-denominational religions have grown up right here in America. Religious fervor will never charge a nation into a common goal ever again.

And because of this, the trophies have no meaning. The previous generations need not worry about Generation Y’s collective ego because you can’t give somebody a soccer trophy to make them feel like a better athlete. You can’t give somebody a collection of hyper-inflated accolades and expect them to feel like they have a purpose in life.

But, the accolades aren’t the only thing that are being printed out en-masse. Unfortunately, human beings are becoming more and more plentiful, and more and more accessible via mass media. Because suddenly, we have over seven billion human beings running around, each with the potential to become a musician, actor, or poet. But, due to mass media, each and every successful artist can entertain so many more. A single musical ensemble can be haled throughout all the world. A local musician’s place is almost nonexistent. Why listen to the old hack downtown when you’ve already got the hit artists in your ear all the time? A billion people must be able to listen to a musician, and with no difficulty or travel except a visit to a recording studio. If one artist can do all that, how many successful artists does the world really have room for? That’s the realization of Generation Y.

They are unable to change the world. The odds of them occupying the handful of spots for great people are shrinking. So community can only be on the decline, in the traditional sense. But, ‘community’ is a term which is growing in its definition. The days of loving your fellows within your kingdom are over, and replaced with those of your fandom. A public forum is no longer a place, but a type of website serving the same purpose, but globally. And so, amidst the depression and angst of feeling useless, teens have turned to places of ‘cultural’ unification, places where they are great. They’ve tried to reopen the possibility of more great people by bombarding the world with a growing number of musical genres, and niche literature.

So, worry not: Generation Y knows those trophies were meaningless. But, they also see the world’s nations, the world’s religions, and the world’s traditions in the same light. So do not worry about a flood of egotistical maniacs; fret only if you wish for your ideas and your cultures, your civilizations and your ideals to live long after your death.

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