When I was growing up, the Generation X’s as my lot were known, were living in a world of fun, frivolity and in my part of the world, relative freedom. We felt safe from wars and terror and thus cared more about MTV and Michael Jackson than Macbeth, Marxism or anything else remotely intellectual or revolutionary. The walkman was our tool of trade and Donkey Kong and Frogger consumed hours of our precious time. Dungeons and Drgaons was to send many to hell and we began to whinge about the economy as we left school and headed into a recession.
But then we grew up and everyone realised we weren’t that bad. We went to Uni, sometimes completed it, sometimes not, got jobs, mortgages and babies and started the cycle again.
Now we sit back and look at our ‘instagramming’ and ‘snapchatting’ youth as indulgent narcissists and rue the hours this new generation waste on social media and Minecraft.
In the 50s they thought comic books would unravel the very fabric of society and turn innocent kids into delinquents. In the 60’s Elvis Presley was going to send pristine young ladies on a moral discourse and the flower power generation of the 70’s were just stoned and lazy lovemaking hippies.
But isnt that the very role of the older generation? To idolise our past and fear for the future of our kids?
As Chaucer wrote many many generations ago in Canterbury Tales “youth and all else are often at debaat”.
I wonder what my kids will be saying about those kids born in the next decade?
We often talk of the teens of today being narcissistic with their ‘selfies’ and oversharing of every daily movement. There is no doubt that it can be seen as indulgent.
But narcissm carries negative connotations. It is a disorder that is defined as lack of empathy, exploiting others, envy and an insatiable hunger for attention. So are they narcisstic or just confident? Or are they indeed deftly low on self esteem that this is their only tool to portray a more appealing self?
Or are they just doing what every generation before them has done? Used what means they had at their disposal to explore their self, connect with others and express their individual identity?