Our Generation

By Gabriela, Age 21

What is Up? Some days I cannot shake the fact that I should be doing more for humanity and it produces in me a peculiar anxiety that is hard to calm. On good days, it can result in a surge of momentum and I make blueprints for my future in making things a little better. On bad days like today, though, I feel the need for distraction, so I sit at my computer and open iTunes. I peer over my shoulder and make sure that I am alone. I am. Then I let myself be hypnotized by the lullaby of glossy colors and little waists, by the mobile of changing fonts on the constant white background. A Dylan record cover morphs into the invitation to Brittney Spear’s new video, aptly entitled ‘Do Something.’ My finger acts alone, and accepts the invitation. I watch her as she proceeds to bounce around and look sweaty and after thirty seconds of her southern drawled “Why don’t you do something?” I switch it off, my anxiety heightened by the fact that I have given in one more time, by the fact that my thoughts are actually veering towards the following question: What would you have me do, Brittney Spears? Being young no longer comes naturally. And here is why: It starts off as an issue of proportions. Number of people living under the poverty line: Number of people currently infected with the HIV virus: Number of people living in countries with civil war conflicts: Or alternatively: Number of dollars in Brad Pitt’s bank account: Number of the thread count of J Lo’s sheets: Number of A-list celebrities on the Atkins Diet: All very big, daunting numbers. Number of me: 1. It continues as an issue of paralysis. The hysteric pace that is the product of globalization has caused my generation to be plagued with uncertainty. Our ethical code seems obsolete, but it is the only one we have. Our appetites are insatiable, we are seduced by highs and lows, but we do not have the tools to deal with the consequences. We are idle, overwhelmed by a seemingly irremediable case of metro-pause made terrifying by the fact that we are still so young. Our condition is under-documented, the outcome unclear. We are faced with what seems like everything and inaction seems understandable. What I can not put my finger on, however, is why this lack of cohesion has tipped the scale in favor of the already imposed paradigms. Why, instead of wanting to defend youth and the bitter-sweet journey that will lead us to our own conclusions (or at least our own lack thereofs), have so many of my peers developed a desperate race to the top? Why this twisted haste to be the one that knew better, the one that wins? I fear that we are mishandling the only inalienable right that comes with youth, which is the right to make mistakes, and I can’t help but feel disillusioned. More concretely, I am disappointed that the trend that seems most blatant in my generation is the one marked by trying to get the internship that will then result in the best of jobs which will in turn guarantee the six figure starting salary because it makes it necessary to aim to please the disciplinarian, be it the teacher, the parent, or the employer. In this way we reassert those who stifle us, we give them the upper hand. So many of us speed past the proportions and the paralysis and go straight to the part where we can prove our ability to distinguish right from wrong, but very few of us face the fact that right and wrong are messy constructs, more so today than ever before. So I write this as a reminder that at the top, there is only room for one and from there, you have nowhere else to go but down. The top is a boring, lonely place to be. So I think that we should reconsider the hurry and instead, take Brittney’s advice and do something. Something about the established rhythm of things. Something for those who are stuck at the bottom. Something with all of our potential. We should take advantage of the fact that for the first time in history (because of the internet and whatnot) we are all connected to each other. The desire for change exists. Otherwise we wouldn’t be so attached to tabloid magazines, or to getting drunk. We wouldn’t need to escape. Otherwise we wouldn’t be kissing one day and pretending not to know each other the next. There would be no discomfort with proximity, with depth. Perhaps, we are filling our heads with Jessica Simpson’s diet secrets so that we do not have to think about Palestine or the Sudan or Iraq. Perhaps we are exchanging the headaches and nausea of Saturday mornings for the Friday nights that allow such complete adherence to the here and now. What if instead we embraced this desire and followed through by embracing each other so that that way we could all fit? What would Brittney Spears say then?