Monday, July 02, 2018


this blog is for Jade

Never has youth been exposed to such dangers of both perversion and arrest as in our own land and day. Increasing urban life with its temptations, prematurities, sedentary occupations, and passive stimuli just when an active life is most needed, early emancipation and a lessening sense for both duty and discipline, the haste to know and do all befitting man's estate before its time, the mad rush for sudden wealth and the reckless fashions set by its gilded youth--all these lack some of the regulatives they still have in older lands with more conservative conditions.
Granville Stanley Hall, The Psychology of Adolescence, published 1904

...a fearful multitude of untutored savages... [boys] with dogs at their heels and other evidence of dissolute habits...[girls who] drive coal-carts, ride astride upon horses, drink, swear, fight, smoke, whistle, and care for nobody...the morals of children are tenfold worse than formerly. 
from a speech to the House of Commons by Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, February 28, 1843

Whither are the manly vigor and athletic appearance of our forefathers flown? Can these be their legitimate heirs? Surely, no; a race of effeminate, self-admiring, emaciated fribbles can never have descended in a direct line from the heroes of Potiers and Agincourt...
--letter published in Town and Country magazine,  November, 1771

Youth were never more sawcie, yea never more savagely saucie . . . the ancient are scorned, the honourable are contemned, the magistrate is not dreaded. 
Thomas Barnes, The Wise-Man's Forecast Against the Evill Time, 1624

Our sires' age was worse than our grandsires'. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.
Horace, Odes, Book III, ~20BCE

Are we noticing a pattern here?

Every generation seems to hold itself up as the benchmark against which the next generation is to be judged...and every next generation fails.  I hear it CONSTANTLY about the generation behind me: the Millennials. Never, we are told, has there existed such a coddled, entitled, self-centered and self-absorbed group of snowflakes.

Even if this was true (and it really isn't)....who made them that way?

Let's indulge in a little thing I'd like to call "critical thinking", shall we?  Given those historical quotes above, can we agree that this lambasting of youth has a long history? I'm pretty sure archeologists will eventually unearth something out of ancient Egypt lamenting that the young people are taking the world straight to Duat. If every generation does this, and they're all telling the truth...I mean, well, how bad could people get? It seems to me that several centuries back we would have seen mass parricide.

Or maybe it's just that a parent's generation -- EVERY parent's generation -- is set in its ways and believes it has the morality market all cornered. What do you think is more likely?

Now let's take a look at some issues specific to this generation of Millennials.

Gently noted and with great restraint, THE WORLD REALLY IS GOING TO Duat HELL

It's really hard to understate this, or to understate how conscious Millennials are about it. Climate change is only one piece of a nasty puzzle, but it extends so many tendrils: ocean acidification, more intense storms, polar icecaps melting and potentially unleashing all manner of ancient viruses against which we have no defence...
Add to that depletion. We're rapidly running out of quite a few things you probably didn't know about. Chocolate. Wine.  Bacon. You know, the good stuff. Also helium. The United States has half the world supply locked away in reserve, and if you think running out of helium is a (laughing gas), consider that this element is necessary in such trivialities as LCD displays, fiber optics, and MRI machines.
In case you're wondering, 'peak oil' isn't near as much of a concern as it used to be. We are ever-so-slowly weaning ourselves off the oily tit, Trump and his oily buddies be damned. That doesn't mean peak oil can be forever dismissed; and in fact the technological change that's mitigating peak oil brings with it major concerns of its own.

Give us twenty years, and any job that relies on driving anything anywhere will no longer exist. Nor will many of the jobs supporting the driving jobs. Jobs in retail will be severely trimmed; robots can do what stockers do, and fewer and fewer people actually go physically shopping anymore anyway.

Where are all these people going to work? Haven't thought much about that, have you? Millennials have. Because they ARE "those people".

Okay, since we've started talking about the economy, let's continue.

Don't believe the rosy picture the U.S. paints regarding its unemployment rate. The truth isn't anything rosy, it's more like the stuff that fertilizes roses. This was DELIBERATELY done. Corporations have offshored millions of jobs, and -- let's not level the 'racist' epithet at me for this -- brought in lots of cheap foreign labour. We see the same in Canada -- the offshoring is just as pronounced; comparatively few things are actually manufactured here anymore. The TFW issue is not as big a concern here, but it does exist.
Okay, so jobs are hard to find, absent an education that costs tens of thousands of dollars at a minimum, and often even WITH that education. How about homes? Well, despite a slight cooling of the market in the GTA, the prospect of owning a home is a bitter joke to anybody not bringing in six figures. Even renting is getting more and more expensive: a two-bedroom apartment is now all but impossible to find for less than $1300/month in any city you'd consider living in.

Capitalism for the win. Now add in the political climate in the United States and elsewhere in the world...rampant police brutality that will, I predict, become ORGANIZED police brutality in the very near future...the steady erosion of human rights and democracy...

My generation was the last one that wanted to grow up. I left home before I was ready to because I wanted to be an adult. I used to be a rarity, not driving; a car used to be a highly sought-after marker of independence. Now, I'm completely unremarkable. Who has money for gas at $1.40 a litre, insurance, upkeep, all of that? Besides, why drive anywhere when your phone can bring people to you? (Ugh). But we were the last generation to have an even semi-plausible future. The Millennials behind me? They don't, and they know it. Long gone are the days when you could easily find a stable, reasonably well paying job out of high school, let alone aspire to raise a family on that job.

Put yourself in a Millennial's shoes for just a minute, survey the world we've left them from their perspective, and you may well find yourself marvelling they haven't risen as one and lynched us. The temptation must be strong.

Except these Millennials are, by any measure, predominately GOOD human beings. They've grown up with the heretical idea that people of colour are people, that gender-non-conforming people are people, that people from different parts of the world are people...that PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE, DAMNIT.

They've grown up with 'reduce, reuse, recycle' drilled into their heads, which bodes well for the planet we share.  Boyan Slat, whose invention is going to clean up the ocean, is a Millennial. He's far from the only one actively making this world a better place.

And they're the first generation to grow up with all of human knowledge at their fingertips. This, more than perhaps anything else, feels threatening to older generations: for the first time in history, the yowwens can call you on your bullshit practically in real time.

Every new invention is decried by the people who lived just fine without it. I could come up with a list ten times as long as the one above of quotations stating the end of the world is nigh because people are doing the Twist/watching the idiot box/listening to the radio/doing the waltz/playing chess/(gasp) READING...

I'm not going to pretend that smartphones are perfect devices devoid of any concern about using them. The way they supercede human contact is very alarming to me, and I don't know if we can even imagine the distant consequences of a world in which people no longer, you know, talk to each other. But nobody's going to listen to me: I'm an old fart. Furthermore, I'm not sure people should--because people my age have been bitching about the tools and toys of people half my age for a donkey's age.

Don't for one second believe the lie that Millennials don't have attention spans thanks to the internet. We're in the golden age of long-form television, and anybody who can follow the myriad threads of the tapestries that are Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, et al can't credibly be accused of having a short attention span. Millennials also grew up with Harry Potter, and YA fiction as a whole has experienced a renaissance; contrary to popular opinion, "kids these days" -- who are actually adults now -- read more than we did. Okay, so they have a calculator on them 24/7 and can't do kitchen table arithmetic in their heads. How many of us can? I see memes floating around Facebook all the time, silly math questions usually involving the order of operations, and next to nobody gets them right. BEDMAS, people, we learned it in what, grade 7?

Let's see, what else is the fault of Millennials? All those industries they've "ruined"? Every single one of them made one or more of these critical errors:

  • Failed to adapt to changing technology
  • Failed to adapt to changing tastes (such as the evolution of 'healthy eating'...breakfast cereals, most of which are better called 'breakfast candy', are in a particularly steep decline)
  • Failed to adapt to changing economic reality (there are lots of items that poor Millennials have learned to live happily without.

I've quoted this before, and feel the need to do so again:

“There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.”

--Robert A. Heinlein, "Life-Line", published 1939

Finally, how about that 'coddled, entitled' behaviour those lazy Millennials all exhibit?

To the extent this is true -- which is not much of an extent at all -- again, WHO MADE THEM THIS WAY? Could it have been their parents, shielding them from every possibility of failure, making sure they got medals just for showing up? They never asked for this treatment, you know. We inflicted it on them: helicopter parenting, participation awards, the whole shebang. Now young adults are suffering from anxiety in record numbers, and who can blame them?

But even know, you might consider reframing your thought. Maybe it isn't that they're coddled and entitled. Maybe it's that they reject abuse as a management tactic. Bully for them, or rather no bully for them.

To the extent this world has any hope in it, it's in the hands of people born in, around, and after the change of the century.  I'd like here to make a special shout out to Jade Collins, who epitomizes her generation. She's still searching for her purpose (hell, so am I), but when she finds it she'll pursue it with passion and compassion, building others up rather than tearing them down, caring for humans, animals, and the world. Jade, I wish I could have been in your life a long time ago. I have faith in you.

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