For ages, I’ve been planning a post on why I feel so alienated from my generation, the so-called millennials (I think that’s what they’re calling us nowadays). I also was going to break my silence on all this NSA nonsense that has been going on. Then I found two excellent blog posts through Twitter, written by a scholar named Tom Nichols. I was unfamiliar with his work until a few days ago, but he has quickly become one of my favorite bloggers. (And once I have access to an academic library again, I plan to check out some of his formal academic work.)
Anyway, onto the blog posts, which can be viewed here and here. Appropriately enough, they’re titled “Generation Snowden, Part I” and “Generation Snowden, Part II”. (The title derives from the overwhelming support for Snowden present among those under thirty.) Tom examines what’s wrong with this (i.e. my) generation. Here’s his list of the most undesirable characteristics among today’s young people:
- These are the most fragile egos the United States has ever produced in one generation.
- They suffer from a level of political literacy so low that there is no understanding of the differences between nations or how the international system even works on a daily basis.
- A prolonged adolescence, including the classic adolescent trait of demanding perfect moral consistency from the world while adopting, shall we say, situational ethics for oneself.
- Even by the standards of youth, the arrogance and pedanticism of Generation Snowden is breathtaking. Never before have so few who know so little lectured to so many who know so much.
- They embrace simplistic conspiracy theories as a means of simplifying a morally and politically complex world.
My view on what’s wrong with the millennials can be summed up in one phrase: refusal to take responsibility for one’s own actions. I used to hear people at my university whining about bad grades they received in a class (when, in the same breath, they talked about how much fun they had drinking the entire weekend instead of studying). The first time I heard that, I was annoyed. Eventually, I just would burst out laughing when people made stupid comments like that.
So, people, are you a millennial? What do you think is wrong with us?
(Note: This should go without saying, but these are obviously generalizations. Not every person under thirty is like this, and young people often do stupid things. However, Tom’s argument – one that I tend to agree with – is that the current millennial generation’s stupidity goes above and beyond mere foolishness of youth.)