Adults these days, am I right?
I would start out this post by talking about how adults used to be responsible. How, back in the good old days, adults were mature and intelligent and believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay and other tired clichés.
But let’s be real: just because today’s adults are shit doesn’t mean the generations before them were any better. So why don’t we just sidestep all that “good old days” bullshit and get to it.
They call us “The ‘Me’ Generation”, so I guess it’s only appropriate that I have started to think of them as “The ‘You’ Generation”. They are the generation of “This is YOUR fault, and not mine.”. They are the generation of, “I am going to blame YOU for failings that any reasonable party would attribute to ME.”. They are the generation of deflected responsibility.
And they are, apparently, the generation that thinks they have the moral authority to lecture us on the idea of personal responsibility when they, themselves have failed at it with such astonishing reliability that it has simply become the expectation.
Today’s adults are the generation that immolated the housing market and then said kids these days aren’t buying houses because they aren’t growing into proper adults. This is the generation that talks about how when they were young they paid for college with summer jobs, while today they are raising the cost of a college education astronomically (was economics not a thing when you were growing up, guys, or have you just forgotten it all?). This is the generation that wants their children to take responsibility, and yet can’t manage to take responsibility for paying, or even giving any form of legitimate training to students they intern at their companies.
This is the generation that is scandalized by “hookup culture” as though today’s students are actually hooking up any more than they did when they were students (we aren’t, but fact-checking has never been your strong suit, guys, so we’ll try not to take your investigative inadequacies personally). This is the generation that talks about our generation’s lack of empathy and personal responsibility with straight faces while the companies they run bold-facedly lie about budgets for their employees, and dodge their responsibility to provide benefits.
This is the generation that decimated the economy they grew up with just in time for us to inherit it. This is the generation that made the banks take personal responsibility by giving them more money. This is the generation that sent their children to die in a war that they justified with bald-faced lies, and that announced that the mission had been accomplished thousands of casualties before the last soldier was evacuated. This is the generation that then refused to provide care to the wounded veterans that they sent to that war.
This is the generation of organizations like Enron, Blackwater, and Freddie Mac. This is the generation of legislation like No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act. This is the generation of the Iraq war, the mishandling of Katrina, the subprime mortgage crisis, and everything that followed.
This generation deigns, so kindly, to lecture their children on taking responsibility.
So, to all of the adults who are dismayed at the kids these days and feel compelled to compose irresponsible, fact-blind, mind-bogglingly ignorant rants about us, here’s what I think of your “concern”:
I think you have had more than half a century to learn what “personal responsibility” means, and you have failed so magnificently it is beyond words. I think the fact that even one of you, without any sense of irony or shame, has managed to delude themselves into thinking that your generation can speak with authority on how our generation should be doing personal responsibility is absurd beyond measure. I think, on the balance of things, that your generation could stand to sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up, and take a lesson.
Because the people in our generation who are doing well? They aren’t doing it thanks to your help and advice, they are doing it in spite of your bullshit.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually think that my parents’ generation is unique in having generally mishandled the country and the world in astonishing ways – I think that’s pretty much the way humans have done it since the dawn of time. I don’t actually think any of the events I mention are particularly generalizable to their generation as a whole. I know quite a lot of wonderful, inspiring people in my parents’ generation. I wrote the above not because I think their generation is full of terrible people, but because I think the people who write articles that make generalizations about whole generations – like those that I both criticize and engage in in the above post – are ridiculous. There have been so many, lately, that have been written about my generation (or, really, today’s college kids, a group in which I, as of recently, no longer, alas, qualify as a member), I thought I would take a stab at showing how easy it is to turn those generalizations around on the people making them.