Part 1: Dear Generation Me…
Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in the box of their bedroom because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into a box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken up into lots of little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to their house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box! Does that sound like anyone you know?
Dear Generation Me,
What’s the ethos of our age?
Christy Wampole says it’s irony, i.e., the hipster. I say it’s irony with a little bit of a technology-induced self-indulgence on the side—that I feel crippled by the ostensibly endless array of choices in front of me right now kinda feeling.
We, those anxious young twentysomethings, know that kinda feeling well.
You know us. In addition to Wampole’s article, The New York Times devoted a whole feature to us first globals who are increasingly seeking career opportunities abroad. Lena Dunham put them on primetime TV with HBO’s Girls. They’re also walking around in that thing called the real world—those recent college graduates, confused, innocently forlorn, and buried in student loans.
In my life, more and more people seem to be subsequently packing their bags for places like Spain and Thailand and China. Do I get a job, or travel the world, or both? is an increasingly normal question for us to ask ourselves and our bank accounts. I can understand the urge to travel, so my question isn’t, Why is everybody leaving? I think it’s more, What is everyone escaping from?
Party talk (read: half-drunken drivel) tells me it’s our culture. Someone I met recently at a holiday gathering launched into a speech about how he wished he was a part of Generation X, that post-WWII diverse generation united in a combat for change. “Music. Not that digitally manipulated CRAP coming from our iPhones,” he said. Grunge, hip hop, and rock with a political influence. While I appreciated his wild hand gestures, he lost me a bit because I’m not entirely sure you can be nostalgic for times of which you were never a part. (And what about the assassination of JFK and the Chernobyl disaster and Watergate, dude?! Gen X-ers may have had some great music, but I don’t think it totally defined the times.) Are times so bad that we’re being forced to long for a time we never knew, e.g. the hipster who raids the nearest thrift store to find a vintage tee from a bygone era?
But enough about them—let’s talk about us. (We love talking about us!) We’re a part of Generation Y. Or, more aptly name, Generation Me. We’re a more narcissistic generation, totally self-involved and lost in screens—TV, computer, iPhone. We text, and we blog, too, because we have lots of feelings and want to share them with the world! We’re irreligious and ironic. We also have more and more opportunities abroad at our disposal. I’ve seen friends and family leave the country as a walking outline, anxious to be colored in by some other culture somewhere else, and then return with feelings of confidence and reassurance. And sometimes superiority. This is the part of our story that I’m interested in.
Is culture failing us, and, if so, is travel the new Holy Grail to self-improvement?
Stay tuned. I’ll write back soon.
I swear I wear my Justin Bieber tee unironically (I think),
Part 2: My Cousin Who Travels the World (And Why She’s a Voice of a Generation)