I saw this bit on facebook recently. I watched it and laughed, because parts of it are very funny – e.g. I’m old enough to know what he’s talking about with the rotary phones.
But a part of it also struck me the wrong way – I felt my hackles rise.
He talks about how spoiled people are now, how there is this sense of entitlement, how we take technology for granted. How cell phones and airplane flight are miracles of modern technology (I think they are magic, actually).
He tells a story about a guy complaining about the high-speed internet on his flight, “…how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only ten seconds ago.”
All funny stuff, and he makes some great points.
Even so, he lost me back near the beginning of the clip, when he said, “this amazing world is wasted on the crappiest generation of, like, spoiled idiots.”
Okay, I will grant that the more we have access to amazing technology, the more it becomes simply part of the fabric of our days, something we don’t even notice until it isn’t there. This isn’t new to this generation, this is human.
My grandparents – and, I’m sure, Louis CK’s – remembered a time when there weren’t automatic washers and dryers, televisions, air conditioning, or even indoor plumbing, in every home.
And they probably thought we were spoiled and unappreciative of those modern marvels. (Miracles? Magic?)
But to say that this is the crappiest generation? Wrong.
So wrong, dude.
There are young people working hard to make the world a better place. In every community. They are
- collecting coats to keep their neighbours warm in the winter
- visiting seniors’ homes to provide friendship and cheer to residents
- collecting food so that local community groups can continue to provide lunches in the summer to kids who would normally have free/reduced lunches at school
- working car washes and concession stands to raise money for research to cure diseases (you name the disease, there are kids touched by it who are working to find a cure)
- collecting books to send to schools in Africa
- and so much more
They are using the technology available to them to
- learn about the world in which they live – from primary sources
- create online communities in support of important causes
- make grassroots connections with like-minded individuals around the world
- get involved in the political process as invested citizens, well before they are old enough to vote
- and so much more that I can’t imagine yet
And those are just the high school students.
At Smith College, there is a group called SAFE. One of their student leaders put it this way:
For me, this work feels good, but it’s also hard. There’s stress in being an activist, regardless of the issue you are working on. The whole point of social justice activism is that there’s something really messed up and we want to change it. That means dealing with things that most people want to ignore, coming up against people’s resistance to change. … sometimes I do get bummed out. I look around and think, “God, this world is so messed up!” But activism is one way to make things better.
I love being a rockin’ activist, somebody who is passionate and motivated and out there doing this work. I get to feel a little piece of the power of change. I get to say, “There is something going on in my generation and it’s good. We can do this.” It gives me hope.
Every generation of youth has been handed a world with a particular set of problems, challenges, opportunities, and joys. Every generation has used the technologies available to them to meet these challenges, to solve these problems, to take these opportunities, and yes, to seek their own joys.
Rather than denigrating an entire generation as crappy, we might recognize that these young people are the ones with the energy, initiative, and creativity to solve the problems we could not.
How about we search out the young people who are doing good** in our communities, and celebrate their efforts? These kids are MADE OF AWESOME.
Let’s concentrate on what they are doing right and reinforce that. It’s the best way to see more of it.
listening to: Eric Claption, If I Could Change the World
** not grammatical, I know. But I’ve loved the phrase since seeing Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, right before they go into the train station (?), “Let’s go do some good.”