While our generation might be the future unappreciated and pragmatic generals — if you buy Strauss & Howe’s cyclical theory and see us as the re-born Truman-Ike Lost Generation — then the Millennials might be the future warriors and, later, empire builders — the latter-day G.I. Generation.
I believe in the Millennials. (Though, please stop with the Gen Y stuff — not only is it a derivative name, but what the hell are you going to do in two generations when you run out of letters? Generation A¹ anyone?). They just might save us all at exactly the right time in their onward-good-soldiers future-Greatest Generation sort of way, just as it happened in the past for a similar generation. And their eternal optimism (h/t Suzanne Kart over at GenerationXpert) fortifies their resolve — as our cynicism did for us.
That said, this generation has two worrisome qualities. (Only two? Shit, to outsiders, our generation probably has dozens. But I digress).
As I previously blogged, and the economy notwithstanding (though as much as the help has focused on saving the present, there is also an appropriate eye toward saving the future), they have been accustomed to success for most of their brief work history. And, until the layoffs came for us all, they had received it.
Still, their early accomplishments, and a childhood raised on praise and Barney (yes, we had Sesame Street and The Electric Company, but that was about all our parents threw at us, convinced as they were about how bad they thought we’d turn out), bred a level of arrogance. Which may not be the worst thing, especially for them.
No, worse than that is their (in general) utter lack of irony. The impetus for this post is a reaction to the commentariat at SciFi blog io9 following a column by the blogger Moff looking back 10 years later at the disaster and disappointment that was Star Wars Episode I: The Phatom Menace.
I am a big fan of Moff’s writings (I particularly liked his opera post), knowing nothing from him except his on-hiatus blog, his brief bio and his io9 column (and Gawker comments) — sort of like a superhero secret identity, um, without the secret. But I’m digressing again.
One commenter said it perfectly. An awful lot of the rest — Millennials or not, though I’m guessing the latter — sort of missed the joke. But it goes to my larger point. Irony is dead, at least to these young-uns. Maybe they’ll need that seriousness of mind to save us. Maybe they’ll do so in spite of that.
So, dear Millennials: You will save the world someday. Yes, you will. So for God’s sake get off your Facebooking asses every once in a while, smile from time to time at the insanity of the world, and keep yourselves in shape to protect us during the Coming Crisis of 2020. (Or 2018, if you’re looking forward to Terminator: Salvation.) That is all.
In an op-ed piece in January in the Dallas Morning News — linked via NPR and appearing in longer-form in City Journal, the conservative Manhattan Institute’s self-described “premier urban-policy magazine” — Brooklyn author Kay Hymowitz is upset: “Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones — high school degree, financial independence, marriage and children. These days he lingers — happily — in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.”
Oh, shit, where do I start on this one?