A couple of weeks ago, the rhetoric was out of control over a book called The Dumbest Generation by Emory U. Professor Mark Bauerlein. I haven’t read the book so i won’t comment on it. There have been lots of comments on it all over the web and internal among the members of the Digital Youth research group. In a recent article by Bauerlein that appeared in Inside Higher Education, we were rolled up into a mass critique of research funds for technophiles, so I’m not sure what I can say that would have much credibility anyhow. Let’s just say that the nice thing about the work that we have been doing is that we aren’t studying the fascinating question of whether or not this “generation” (uh, whatever that means) is dumber or not (uh, whatever that means) than previous ones.
But if you want to inquire into the Generation Dumbest Debate some more, than I’d highly recommend two recent articles on Radar Online. I suggest we start by collectively reading Robert Lanham’s piece in Radar:
In an article titled “Generation Slap: They’re naive, self-important, and perpetually plugged in. This is a call to arms against Millennials,” Robert Lanham is attempting to rally the 30 million or so Gen-Xers against the 50 million or so Millenials (formerly Gen-Yers) who downright suck:
“That’s why the time has come for Generation X to unite. We need to call bullshit on these naive, self-important crybabies trying to rob us of what is rightly our own. Remember how the Baby Boomers all turned into self-serving, narcissistic assholes who deified Michael Douglas in the ’80s? The time has come for us to turn into assholes, too, minus the Michael Douglas part.”
If you have fond memories of 80s and early 90s pop culture this is a great read and downright hilarious. Some of my favorite parts include a photograph of the Apple Store with the caption: “MECCA The Apple Store, where Gen Yers congregate to kneel at the foot of Steve Jobs.” There is also a nice elucidation of the double standard in coverage of this gap in his comparison of media coverage of Gen X back then and media coverage of the Millenials now. And, I like this discussion of the millenials’ 2008 venture into politics:
“Sure, there are those who defend the Millennials against the accusations of superficiality, generally by suggesting that they’re more politically engaged than the disenfranchised Gen X. But let’s be honest, had George Bush, Jr., been in office when we turned 21, my generation would have sweat through our flannel shirts running to the voting booth to replace him.”
As a member of Generation X (I guess! I used to not be. Then I was. Then I wasn’t again. But now I am.), I was so mad afterwards, I wanted to take a club to the next punk 12 year old DS-player I saw. Stupid stylus.
Oh, but then I saw that there was an equally funny response from a Millenial called “Get Off the Stage: One Millennial responds to Gen X’s discontents” by Alex Pareene. Apparently, he’s one of those meddling millenials.
Shoot. This guy makes the pop culture of my childhood and teenage years super-lame. On the list of ridiculous products of my generation: Reality Bites, “a generation of dudes whose primary goal in life was to sleep with Winona Ryder.” (Hey! When I was a kid I thought she was super cute in Lucas. Wait, no I didn’t. I thought Kerri Green was super cute in Lucas. Goonies also. Well, at least on this point Pareene’s not making fun of me!).
And this comeback is right on the money:
“I’m sorry Time made fun of your generation. But, guys, it’s Time. Don’t worry about it—we Millennials made it irrelevant. We’re killing print! You think we want Morley Safer calling us the Next Greatest Generation? We don’t know who Morley Safer is!”
(Man. All great points. Anyhow, Safer didn’t seem that credible in that 60 minutes show two weeks ago anyways.)
I guess it’s time to go buy a DS and take a club to the next person I see going into a library.
Enjoy the reads. Much better than outrage against the dumbest generation.