Stupidity; like selfishness, laziness, greediness and general misbehavior; is an equal opportunity provider. It doesn’t care about your race, religion, native tongue, waist size, area code or age. It is a refreshingly-nondiscriminatory character trait–all are welcome to participate.
And if countless hours of listening to History Channel documentaries in the background while I’m at work has taught me anything, it’s that stupidity is also nothing new. Stupidity is a time-honored tradition of the human race. In short, as long as there were humans, there were stupid humans.
Despite what many noticeably-older columnists and television commentators allege, Gen Y simply doesn’t hold the patent for stupidity. No, you can’t put that on us.
And since we don’t hold the patent for stupidity, I’m sorry to say that we also can’t, as some television writers have suggested, be the “Worst. Generation. Ever.” There’s simply too much competition for that title. Even though, Generation Y was born and bred during the self esteem “everybody’s a winner” movement of the 80s and 90s, even we don’t have enough chutzpah to claim we’ve sufficiently earned the “Worst. Generation. Ever.” title.
Frankly, even I have to admit our supposed qualifications are pretty lame. Here’s a few of the supposed characteristics that make us a top contender for the honor. I could list all of the reasons we supposedly suck but frankly I’m too lazy to do so because it’s too depressing (which in and of itself, may just have proven their point about our supposed laziness, but whatever.)
Reasons We Supposedly Suck:
Why they have a point: Yes, in our youth, which was (again) smack dab in the middle of the self-esteem movement, we were taught that each and every one of us was special and that each and every one us had the talent and ability to make our dreams come true.
Strangely, children who are taught these things during their formative years grow into adults who believe these things too, who knew? So, yes, the majority of Gen Y kids are probably sitting in cubicles across the country wondering why the heck they are just sitting in cubicles if they’re so gosh darn special and dreams do come true? The majority of Gen Y kids may also very seriously resent their third grade teacher, Ms. Ashury, and also, Disney for convincing them of these fallacies.
Why it’s not really so bad: So maybe we are a generation who was taught to believe that we are great when maybe we aren’t so great, is that really such a big deal? So the seemingly too-cocky whippersnapper in the next cubicle is upset he doesn’t get ribbons and awards at work for simply participating, who cares? You’d be upset too if you were him. He used to get sooooo many ribbons.
Why this isn’t necessarily a new thing: For a crash course on young people wanting to make a lot of money by doing not that much, please see: The 1980s yuppie subculture embodied in the film Wall Street where seemingly all you had to do to become filthy, stinking rich was to have a slicked-back hair, a cell phone as large as your head, non-ironic suspenders, a penchant for insider trading and a firm belief in the teachings of Gordon Gekko and his “Greed is good” philosophy.
See also, any generation in the history of the world whose members dreamed of having a better life than members of the preceding generation or who dreamed about “Getting Rich Quick.” In other words, check out pretty much every generation that ever existed.
Why they have a point: Since we are products of the self-esteem movement who were taught we are super special, it logically follows that we tend to believe every single thing we say, do or think is pretty darn special too. It’s possible we never quite grew out of that. For proof of our continued self-involvement, please see every single pointless Facebook post, Tweet, or self-indulgent blog post (excluding this one, or, heck, even including this one) ever written.
Why it’s not really so bad: So we have an over-inflated sense of ego and we are crazy enough to think people give a darn about every single thing we think? This really shouldn’t affect you at all, you can simply ignore us.It’s pretty easy. Just stay away from Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and really any other social media site that allows us to publicize our thoughts and feelings without having to actually talk to people. Talking to people is gross.
Why this isn’t necessarily a new thing: Here’s the thing about this generation’s supposed self-involvement, you can find examples of it everywhere. Everywhere you look (and by everywhere I really mean just on your computer or smart phone) there are self-involved tweets, status updates and self-indulgent blog posts (seriously you’re reading one right now, did you notice that?)
But just because our generation is talking about themselves in a more visible way doesn’t necessarily mean we’re talking about ourselves more, we’re just doing it better.
Our generation is simply better equipped to talk about ourselves in a more public, convenient platform than any other generation. That doesn’t necessarily mean older generations weren’t doing it. They were. They just weren’t doing it as well.
For proof, please think back to any time you were forced to watch a slideshow of a friend’s vacation or listen to your friend recite her very personal but also very terrible poetry about her latest breakup.
Or if we want to find an even earlier version of the human race’s well-documented self-involvement, please take a trip to the famed Caves of Lascaux in southwestern France where you can check out Paleolithic man’s version of a bragging Facebook post. Since early humans didn’t have Facebook walls, they clearly figured, eh, we may as well just go ahead and paint our experiences on the actual walls of our caves, that’ll show em. I mean, I’m not an archaeologist or anything, but it’s pretty obvious that cave paintings were just early humans’ way of bragging to their friends about some awesome horses and bison they saw on their latest trip out of the cave.
See, we’ve been doing this forever, it’s nothing new.
None of this is new. Stupidity is not new. Laziness is not new. Greediness is not new. We didn’t invent this stuff. As long as there have been humans there have been stupid, lazy, greedy humans. So, with that in mind, it’s kind of hard to believe that in the entire course of human history the people who happened to be born in the 1980s and 1990s are the worst of the bunch. Sure, some of us are terrible people, but some of us aren’t, just as it has been with every other generation that ever lived.
So since we know people, regardless of generation, are just going to be people, now might be a good time for all of us, regardless of generation, to simply try to be better people.
We can start by not running around calling other people “the worst.”
Yeah, that’d be a good start.