Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Response to "Go-Nowhere Generation" New York Times Article

A Friend of Mine shared this article on Facebook and her frustration with it. As I tend to do when I get passionate and heated, I went off on too long of a tangent, but thought it would make a great blog post.

Here is the article: 

And here is my response:

One of the things that older generations don't understand is how millenials engage with eachother and technology. In past generations, not only was it cheaper to travel, but it was more important to travel to be able to keep in contact with diverse people spread out geographically. I'm all for traveling, but one of the other things our generation is attributed with are better relationships with our parents and families and more of a innate duty to engage with and support our communities. I think its great people are reinvesting in the communities they come from, because no one knows that community's needs like someone who was raised there. They make it out to be a bad thing to love where you're from and the community that raised you, but its not. And they have some numbers thrown in there, but make alot of wide inferences as to why Millenials do what they do, using a few outliers and examples from the past to highlight how things "should be". Well in every generation you are going to have both your movers and shakers, and you're going to have your general public that maintains the status quo pursuing a mediocre "American Dream" and no more. Its not like ours is the first generation faced with this, theyre just trying to point fingers as were coming of age and realizing how much bullshit is going on in the world around us. Were becoming adults and leveraging technology to do more from our home computers in a day than they could do in a month at our age. The older generations are getting older, and our generation is the largest that has ever lived, with the most purchasing power of any generation, and as soon as we realize that, and how to use that to control the trajectory of corporations and politics we will really become a threat to them. But as such a large generation, yes there are many who have been discouraged by the economy and their environment and feel like fighting for change and a better life is pointless when there is so much competition with both peers and more experienced elders also fighting for employment. This is not to say we're "going no where", but that there is so much economic and political noise as our generation comes of age, that the dormant potential needs to be tapped into and directed. This can also be very dangerous as it makes the young and influential prime prey for flashy campaigns promising purpose and hope (such as the response to Kony 2012). We want something to believe in, because our government, economy, and elders are letting us down and teach us to shift blame rather than leading by example. But I would rather my peers wait to activate themselves after critical thinking and for a true cause rather than getting swept away because we're told this is what we "should be doing". Better to sit and wait for the moment to act then act hastily as someone else's puppet when the ensuing results will not actually be in our own best interest, but rather benefit the privileged corporate stockholders seeking to use our purchasing power to repad their pockets after economic downturn. 

I am renting my own home, 60 miles from the community i was born to. I just graduated college and was one of the fortunate few of my peers to find full-time employment immediately after graduation. I understand that we all play a role in keeping the economy afloat, but for our generation we need to focus on strategically planning our future rather than running to the wind because that's what were supposed to do to keep things going as they are. OBVIOUSLY things aren't working as they are, were off track and not living sustainably. Maybe we don't want things to continue as they are? An analogy I heard from a famous economist is that our American economic system is like a car with bad brakes and bad steering. It doesn't work no matter who's driving it, when the infrastructure is not right, it will always eventually crash. So rather than condemnation for a generation born to a world in turmoil, monitoring the progression of the social justice causes and calls for economic reform, why not give us motivation and direction, or at least support. Lead by example and show us what to do to fix this, use our intellectual capital to look for answers to problems, reward us when we're on the right track. Don't condemn the one's not strong enough to take on this corrupted system on their own.

As a Marketing Student, I spent significant time understanding marketing research, and how to use it to get what you want. I love my profession, but I understand Marketing as corporate manipulation. Once you know who your target audience is, you act in ways to play to their psyche and get them to respond in the way you desire. The same is true of politics and journalism. This is done in journalism by the way a story is framed, but before the validity of a claim is established, the perspective of the framework needs to be taken into account. The funny thing about personal perspectives is that when you're looking for something you will find it. When you're looking for research and statistics to back a belief, you will be able to find or create them through primary or secondary research. You will also generally ignore signifiers opposing your stance, because only the results with statistical significance get published in journals, not researching that ends inconclusive or rejecting the null hypothesis of no correlation. Though this article may capture parts of my generation, it does not speak for all of it, for myself, or the vast majority of my peers that I am fortunate enough to call my friends. Truly, its all a matter of perspective. With so much stimuli constantly coming in, its human nature to reaffirm preexisting believes and ignore outliers, but that does not mean that this is the entire truth, just the way we see it or we've been instructed to see it. Yet, it's easier to point fingers than to offer a hand when our shortcomings are realized.

I agree that when people are always filling their minds with technology and outside information they arent thinking as much for themselves. It curbs creativity and innovation and can lead  to sedentary lifestyles, so its important to take time to unplug as well. What they also dont address is how technology is our generation's frontier, a new and unchartered playground with endless possibilities. It is similar but different to the geographic exploration of our ancestors, but less detrimental to other cultures and natural resources. It's easier to connect with many different communities you identify with, growing off their ideas and with their encouragement, all from the comfort of your own home. With information and communication at our fingertips, geographic relocation isnt as necessary for sharing and building on ideas, but it is more of an expensive luxury because of the economy and rising costs of gas. I can barely cover my gas to and from work in the same city, and I have more important bills to pay than taking as many road trips as i did just a few years ago. They make it seem like its a bad thing to want to reinvest in community and establish a life and future family near the family that raised you. Ok its cheaper to go to North Dakota, but who wants to go there? What if you're happy with where you live but can't afford to live there on your own? Both sides of my family have strong ties in California, including my Native American tribes, and though I've traveled all that has done is show me there is NO WHERE ELSE I want to live. Additionally, many other cultures keep family together until the children are married, and even then they invest in the community which then in turn invest in raising the child to be wise and ethical.

If you ask me, the older generations have it wrong. We've had it wrong on a slippery slope since the birth of capitalism putting the pursuit of personal riches before the most valuable resources we have - our time and our lives. Putting pursuit of riches before family and community has lead to alot of the problems were facing today, and the moral and ethical depravity that's eating away our nation from the inside out as well as the depletion of our finite natural resources in the guise of progress and profit. So let them hate on the "Occupy" movement, were a product of our choices and the environment that has been created for us by those that came before. Although we are a product of our predecessors we do not need to be condemned to their choices and mistakes, but rather should take this as an opportunity to stop pointing fingers, accept the realities of our own shortcomings, because we cannot change them, we can only decide our own actions and future. We just need to be sure to watch and listen now so that in a few years time when its our turn to run things we don't lead our kids into the same economic turbulence and finger-pointing games our predecessors are teaching us now

:) Thanks for sharing the article. I feel much better after that tangent. :P haha. We may be young, but we're smart and motivated. If we ever realize our power we will be a force to be reckoned with, and being raised with technology we have an advantage over older professionals that have to learn it from scratch. It comes natural to us, and though they have more experience we have the ability to teach ourselves anything we have the motivation to with a few finger twitches and a youtube video or two. They may not get us, but they do fear us, because we care and we're smart enough to do something about it. People in control like things the way they are from their seat of privilege and power. We just gotta use the doubt and repression as fuel to keep fighting harder, because words only mean so much. Its our actions that will speak for us.

1 comment:

  1. This is a phenomenal response to that article!!
    I'm going to submit it to the NY Times if you haven't already!!!