Saturday, May 11, 2013

Generational Trolling in Our Time

Certain sectors of the Internet -- those whose ox is being gored this time, mostly -- are complaining about this here Time magazine cover story, which claims that Young People Today are lazy, unmotivated, and entirely unlike the upright older generations who, gol-durn it!, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and Built This Here United States.

This is indeed a stupid argument, but it's not a new stupid argument. Time in particular trots it out every few years -- see the following two examples from 2005 and 1990, grabbed quickly and haphazardly -- but all of the lazy wing of American journalism (which is most of it) likes this "we're better than you people, even though you're young and healthy and pretty and thin and have your whole lives in front of you" story, because they are old and crabbed and grumpy and have their entire failed lives burning behind them.

I'm part of Generation X, which was massively vilified in the media throughout the late '80s and early '90s -- remember "slackers?"; that was us -- even though we were very much like other teens and twenty-somethings before us. Folks older than me can chime in about how the mass media similarly demonized hippies, "juvenile delinquents" in the '50s, and all the way back to the flappers of the '20s.

The point is that this is what the media does. They identify a stupid trend, don't bother to check to see if it bears any relationship to reality -- or if they've filed the exact same story every five years for the last seven decades -- and run with it, hoping for attention and ad revenue. You don't have to let the idiots troll you. Just tell them to piss off, and go on about your life.

And remember: in twenty years, you and your age cohort will be the ones complaining about the new generation of Lena Dunhams and Douglas Couplands and Abbie Hoffmans. So you'll get your chance in the smug asshole chair, don't worry.

(Also, an actual journalist named Elspeth Reeve -- one of the few who checks facts and has a historical sense and more than one functional brain cell -- has debunked this for Atlantic Wire already.)

1 comment:

Bill Miller said...

I'm horrified just visualizing the smug asshole chair. Especially since I read it as 'snug' at first.

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