I always wanted to write something like “The Sunscreen Song” (1999) or better still Gordon Sinclair’s 1973 “The Americans.” However, I would be greeted with the platitudinous insult, “Okay Boomer.” Okay, then, I’ll let someone else do it.
To millennials I would say: “You have to be happy in those quiet moments when you remember that you are alive; not in those noisy moments when you forget.” Perhaps what is depicted in shows and movies is not accurate, but a standard activity of millennials seems to be jumping up and down in a group to raucous music.
“What we have to teach the young man of the future is how to enjoy himself. Until he can enjoy himself, he will grow more and more tired of enjoying everything else.” Here the author must be interpreted by himself. He says elsewhere, p. 357, above all things don’t enjoy yourself meaning me, myself, and I. In our quote he is saying learn to be alone. Today it would be: Learn to live without the reward cycle social media gets us addicted to.
“If you consider what are the things poured into him, what are the things he receives, then indeed they are colossal cataracts of things, cosmic Niagaras that have never before poured into any human being are pouring into him. But if you consider what comes out of him, as a result of all this absorption [by him], the result we have to record is rather serious. In the vast majority of cases, nothing. Not even conversation, as it used to be. He does not conduct long arguments, as young men did when I was young. The first and startling effect of all this noise is silence. Second, when he does have the itch to write or say something, it is always an itch in the sense of irritation.” Surely, millennials notice this too. At least in the internet interactions. So much emotion, so little thought. My generation was warned of writing poison pen letters. We were told to give it at least a day before mailing a letter. Well, a day is forever in a 24-hour news cycle and even longer on social media which is ever moving.
“It used to be thought impudent for a boy to criticize an old gentleman, it now requires far more sublime impudence for an older man to criticize a younger.” I wouldn’t dare talk as casually, in form, topic, and address, in my 20’s and 30’s to my elders as is done today. And I was/am surely as full of self, vinegar, and another yellow substance as anyone today.
You know where the quotes above come from? G.K. Chesterton in a 1936 essay “The Spice of Life.” You know what that means? He wasn’t writing of my generation but that of World War II. The generation behind his. This confirms what I have suspected for some time now. This view, my view, of the generation 1-1 ½ generations behind you recurs. For Boomers it can be summed up thusly: Just as virtually all ailments during the pandemic are attributed to Covid-19, so my generation is in error in assuming that what we find at least trying if not distasteful in the millennials is due to technology. Nope, it’s generational. [The quotes are from a book entitled In Defense of Sanity, pages378, 379, 380, 381 respectively.]