In Defense of My Generation

I recently read an article that described the new wave of young adults as the “Peter Pan” generation. It described a generation of kids who refused to grow up. I know I’ve talked a lot about this in a couple recent posts. But this struck me in a different kind of way. It seems incredibly pejorative. Now there is some merit to these claims if we look at specific instances of my generation — Jersey Shore comes to mind. Easy target, I know. But embedded in this “Peter Pan” label is the broad, sweeping implication that we’re all childish, immature, petulant children who are afraid to grow up. I think it’s far more complicated than that. These implications spread much further than simply the church, politics, or education.

With the rise of technology and the internet, we are able to know more than ever before. Because of this, my generation’s view of authority is different than any other generation in history. A general mistrust of societal institutions has become commonplace. One could even make a case-by-case argument that every cultural institution that we have been taught to hold in high esteem has given us ample reason to question their integrity and their motives. Our coming of age has involved a massive re-assessment of the meaning of responsibility and accountability. The fact that we have to employ a fact-checker in our political discourse (and that most of what is said is, at least somewhat, false) is seen as reason enough to submit to the tempting call of apathy.

Our generation has and will continue to struggle to create meaning in a time where there is almost nothing we can be sure of. Every generation is messy, complicated, and has its own obstacles to overcome. In this way, I think we are just like every generation that has come before us.

The course of history — not misplaced apathy or optimism — gives us hope that we will get by. We will welcome the responsibility of adulthood on our terms and in our own time. We grew up with loose ends, inaccurate labels, and exceedingly high expectations. I think we’re going to do just fine.

Cheers,
Eric

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Comments

  1. Great thoughts, Eric. The photo you used got my mind thinking in the key of Garden State (which is one version of our generation’s perspective/reality), but I often think about another Zach Braff movie (The Last Kiss) when considering all of this, not to mention John Mayer’s “Stop This Train.” Oh, and last night’s episode of How I Met Your Mother also playfully pointed out the ways technology has drastically changed how we interact with others (especially our friends and potential “more than” friends). I’m not sure why I haven’t read your blog more often…you’re a really good writer.

    • Thanks for commenting, Andy. I think you’re right that there are a lot of different expressions of this perspective. I think “The Last Kiss” and “Stop This Train” are great examples of that. The angst behind John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” is another example. Apparently it seems moody, artistic white dudes are the spokesmen for this generation. I have a friend who absolutely hates the movie “Garden State”. He tells me that he would like it, except “nothing happens in that entire movie”. I disagree, but keep telling him maybe that’s the point.

Please keep your comments positive. I reserve the right to delete rude or insulting comments. If your comment is critical, please make sure it is also constructive. Thank you.

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