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Is our generation the first to run out of ideas? The 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s all hold some golden idea of a better time, richer in culture, with something to fight for and someone to be – especially for the young. But we, as the first technology-native generation, seem to have lost our way. Subculture and music appear to go hand-in-hand in a brand new way. 50s rock’n’roll-ers, 60s hippies, 70s punks, 80s skinheads, to name but a few, are all with their own style, music and reason to be. But what have we got to show for ourselves in the 00s and onwards? Perhaps each generation independently ends up thinking that their era is boring, broken, and ultimately rubbish. Somehow, though, I can’t help but feel like we have drawn the short straw.
Perhaps it is technology that ruined what could have been yet another feisty group of young rage-fuelled adolescents, fighting for freedom or equality. Never mind run a society or finish a degree: most of us couldn’t live without some sort of computer. Or maybe we are feisty and rage-fuelled, but just in a different way. Are we fighting against the homophobia now seen in Russia with just the same enthusiasm as protesters fought against racism in the 60s? Is a Facebook page simply our form of revolt from oppression? I would certainly like to think so. However, that is not how the older generations would see us.
Recently dubbed “Generation Y”, we have been branded as the first “lost” generation by the media far too many times: lazy, unemployed, and looking for hand-outs; living with our parents well into our twenties; wayward hooligans with a culture of binge drinking and drug abuse; uneducated, self-centred layabouts; always the “me generation”. Is this really an accurate picture? There are many times when I wonder what on earth things have come to, and yet still join the mindless frivolities that have become normal for those of us lucky enough to be young in this day and age. For us, being able to remember a night out means that it was probably a bit of a letdown, and it is almost tradition to spend the entire day after recovering in bed.
Another example is the recent plague-like spread of the infamous “neknominations”. For those of you who don’t know – perhaps you have been living in a cave or something similar – “neknominations” are a global drinking craze in which participants are nominated to inventively down a pint and then nominate their friends to do the same. I thought it was stupid and yet somehow still brilliant, but it must say something about the youth of today if it was able to spread so fast and so wide. I am not saying I disapprove. I am simply imagining the viewpoint of the older generations looking on. They must surely be baffled.
But we can’t be any worse than the drug-addled youth of the 60s and 70s, when cannabis was new, exciting, and everywhere in the Age of Aquarius, or the ecstasy-induced madness of the 80s and 90s with the Haçienda and rave music. Back then, new drugs meant new culture, and they remain a large part of the memories (or lack thereof) of our parents. Yet these times are all held with a sort of unashamed reverence. Maybe the truth is that each generation is inherently the same. We all unwittingly seek to outdo what has gone before, and rebel against our elders for some kind of (often misguided) youth identity. 50s parents thought rock’n’roll caused juvenile delinquency, and those “juvenile delinquents” thought that heavy metal caused juvenile delinquency in their children. Perhaps our era will only seem broken until we finally settle down, as each generation has done before us, into the monotony of post-teen work and life.