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« Getting Ready for '04 | Main | More on These Kids These Days Redux »

August 28, 2003

More on These Kids These Days

Friedrich --

Do you hang out much with Gen-Yers? By which I suppose I mean kids younger than 35 but older than your daughters. The Wife and I do. We like 'em: youth, energy, new styles, hopefulness, delusions -- they're fun to be around. Our own flagging batteries get a bit of a recharging.

What a relief the Yers are from our own messianic, let's-politicize everything Boomer cohort, now well into their self-dramatizing decline. (The Xers? With a few exceptions, best ignored and forgotten, at least as far as I'm concerned.) The Yers may have none of the inwardness, mystery and charm of tradition-based generations, but they're often sweet, bright, quick, funny and super-energized. And, god bless 'em, I've met very few who feel a compulsive need to politicize much of anything.

They're uninhibited, to say the least. They pull faces. They run around clicking on buttons, their own and other people's. If they seem to have no idea what an internal life is, well, the way they externalize everything instantly is often sparkly and inventive. They're all about being children acting out, which is normally something that annoys me. But many of them do it cheerfully, as well as with a sense of their own absurdity. To my surprise, I'm amused.

They, they ... Well, what the Wife and I have decided they really are is animated characters. They bear the same relationship to that historical artifact known as "people" that cartoons do to a live action movie. Everything is potentially changeable, all the time. Everything's a little brighter than normal, and the energy level's 'way higher. When they dash off, they leave behind a cloud of pixel-smoke. Boing! Zip! Twang! They often remind us of characters in Japanese anime, or of computer animation. "Or of the Muppets," says The Wife, who claims that the facial expressions the Gen-Yers like putting on come straight from the Muppets' TV show.

When I'm in one of my gloomily-worrying-about-where-the-world's-going moods, I think of these young people as holograms. They're nothing but see-through creatures, wire-frame models -- creations of mood drugs, pop culture, academic feminism and electronics, mere phantoms for whom nothing exists until it's gotten a good electronic making-over and pumping-up. Where's the reality? Is anyone at home? And what's to become of traditional culture and traditional values?

I'm a little anxious about how these no-depth beasties are going to react when they encounter such non-digital inevitabilities as illness, betrayal, and disappointment, let alone the shutting-down of possibilities. They'll manage, of course. But what will they have to draw on once the energy goes? They can vent all they want, but life's frustrations aren't going to go away.

Thinking like this gets me reflecting that part of what traditional culture's about is creating, nourishing and exercising what used to be thought of as "depth," or maybe even "your soul." (Hey, here's a Suzanne Fields column that argues more or less the same thing.) One of the things traditional culture is good for is preparation for life's bigger, harder moments, while digital culture, at least in its currrent form, seems to be all about opening up, opening up -- ever more possibilities, all instantly available. Moremoremoremoremore. Whoosh! And the whoosh! experience seems to be highly addictive. (How to break the addiction?) For me, the optimism -- or at least the anti-gloominess -- of the digital outlook is a nice addition to the palette; it makes life a more open, full-of-options and up-to-you thing, and I'd find it hard to complain about that. But as for the unreality it seems to promote? Well, I'm not so sure. Life's still life, whether or not it gets the Pixar treatment.

How funny, by the way: the Boomers, who thought of themselves as the end-all of existence, are in fact turning out to be a merely transitional generation, nothing but a bridge between the analog world and the digital world. It seems to me that one way of seeing the Boomers is as a generation that was trying to will its way into make-believe, into a world of electronic media. The Yers (and those younger) have been born into that world of Xboxes, digicams, and Imacs. This helps explain their serenity (they know nothing but life among the endless-possibilities electronic media, so they experience no torment), as well as their tendency to go a little berserk when any larger perspective is brought to bear on them (they're outraged -- they feel like the entire basis of their life is being pulled away from them). I'm anticipating a few of the usual spluttering, angry and finger-pointing comments on this posting --"you, you Babyboomer, you" -- from offended GenYers, and will be disappointed if none turn up. It's interesting, the way some Yers have such trouble understanding that there's a difference between being observed and being judged, no?

But who knows? Maybe the electronic media life will soften over time. Maybe it'll broaden and deepen; maybe it'll acquire shadings and quieter pockets. Let's hope. Between you and me? Bringing some of these, ahem, traditional values into the digital universe is one of the things I'd most like to see the arts-'n'-ideas crowd concern itself with. But there I go again, thinking that the arts-'n'-ideas crowd might do well to think in terms of offering the rest of humanity a little something in the way of utility, pleasure and service. Silly, naive me.



posted by Michael at August 28, 2003


One thing I've noticed is that I think, progressively, each generation seems "younger"---more fun, but less reliable and "mature"---with each succeeding one. The Greatest Generation was not so much fun (at least in my my experience, which, God only knows, might be skewed, with my relatives!!!) but very responsible, bought homes at a young age, planted flowers, didn't borrow. The Boomers definitely were less inclined to quickly embrace "responsibility" (the word even makes me sigh now) right through to these Pixie Dust creatures you describe. And I think each generation was succeedingly more open to new ideas, less "sure" of the One True Way to live, and maybe, less intestinal fortitude, character, less inclined to make their word their bond. This is speaking VERY GENERALLY of course, I'm sure exceptions are everywhere.

Posted by: annette on August 28, 2003 12:34 PM

Gen-Ys under 35? I'm 31, and I always thought I was part of Generation X. But then again, it's so dreadfully difficult to figure out which generation one belongs to these days.

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on August 28, 2003 1:30 PM

Friedrich just said what I was going to, that what used to be described as the generation gap is really an artefact of huge changes wrought in the first 50 years of the 20th century. I'm in the same position as Tim - I actually have very little 'generational' consciousness (is that good or bad?) The blogosphere and the net in general seems to include plenty of twentysomethings sharing their thoughts on weighty matters and serious books - so I'm pretty optimistic about our depth propspects. KER-POW!

Posted by: Gabriel on August 28, 2003 2:00 PM

Ditto Tim. I'm 32 and I thought I was an X-er. I thought Y-ers were (at the moment) college/high school kids more or less?

Maybe we need to come up with a new term for those kind of between. Someone around 30-35 is 75% digital 25% analog. Not all digital like Y-ers. I still remember vinyl records. TV with only 5 channels. But a lot of my cherished childhood memories involve the Atari 2600, my dad's first computer, a TRS-80, later on my Apple ][+ . . . etc.

Posted by: dude on August 28, 2003 2:37 PM

Annette -- That's so true. I wonder if it has to do with the way more and more infrastructure gets put in place. It's as though the grid (or something) starts taking over roles that we used to have to develop personally, on our own. No need to be our own parents, so to speak, when the culture more generally will do it for us. Kids forever. I love your phrase "Pixie Dust creatures," by the way.

Tim, Gabriel, Dude -- Does anyone know where the official break between Gens X and Y is? I'm sure you right, that it maybe ought to be down around late-20s or something. I was trying to allow for a few people I know who are 30ish, but who clearly aren't GenXers, at least in temperament. But maybe I gummed up my sociological categories in doing so. I like Dude's idea of making it a kind of graduated thing, depending on how digital you are. Today's five year olds... Hmm, I wonder if they'll have any conception of what analog was.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 28, 2003 3:04 PM

Michael, I am so glad you left that comment. I cant decide if I'm a Boomer or a Gen-Xer. I was born in '57, can use a slide rule, type on a manual typewriter and dont think dial phones are all that odd. Yet, I missed the protest marches, barely remember when Kennedy was shot, didnt vote til after Nixon was out of office and wasnt in on the cutting edge of the digital boom.

Isn't summarizing an entire cohort of people a risky thing to do? And dont you think that older folks have always looked at younger folks that way? I dont think the "the kids these days" line of reasoning is all that unique to any specific genereation--yours at the moment.

Posted by: Deb on August 28, 2003 3:35 PM

Isn't summarizing an entire cohort of people a risky thing to do?

Yes, it is.

Posted by: Mark Dellelo on August 28, 2003 3:55 PM

"Boomers ... are in fact turning out to be a merely transitional generation, nothing but a bridge between the analog world and the digital world." If only we could get everyone to accept this wry assessment.

The biggest difference between people who are under 35 and my people - something shared by the under-35s I like and the ones I don't - is that they are very touchy. My mother was really impressed while watching Kelly and Jack Osborne hug and kiss and hold their parents, and I told her that's what everybody younger than me does. A friend of mine has a six-foot-something 18 your old son who sits on her lap and carries her around the house and tickles her toes - and that's typical. My own theory? The influence of African-American and Mexican family physical intimacy expressed with Mall-rat informality.

However, I'm not at all sure the earlier generations were less playful. Grown-up play seems to be something that vanished in the earlier 60, with swingers and this attitude that being at play was some kind of... I don't know what, some kind of serious enterprise. But maybe the growing weight of credit card debit sucked all the fun out of life.

Novels and movies and small-town newspapers and diaries from the civil war to JFK suggest that charades and sack races and playing practical jokes and men getting dressed up like women, drinking too much, and performing "Yes, we have no bananas" for the neighbors was accepted and expected behavior.

Up to the crash, Wall Street had an annual "goof day." People stole each other's hats and brought pigs into the buildings and ran wild. All in good fun. Then the underpaid Irish maids cleaned up the mess and the next day life went on as usual.

I don't think adults can be truly playful without a sense of seriousness. Of course, we may no longer be able to assume that someone in their early 20s in an adult. Or perhaps we should start defining maturity by graphic age and debt.

Sorry for going on. Fun, and how often people think they're fooling around when they're not, is one of my hobbyhorses.

Posted by: j.c. on August 28, 2003 4:06 PM

Geez. I'm 36 & assumed myself to be (presumptively) an X-er. First time I heard of the label was to describe the current college crowd -- which was in 1990, while I was finishing college!!

Anyway, I guess I'm about %85 digital, wishing the world was %85 analog. I love the benefits, but I often hate the style. I'm sitting here in front of a ridiculous tangerine-colored iMac. I've had a Mac of one sort or another since 1988. I desperately crave a new iMac (the R2D2 one), or at least an ibook. I totally love computers, the internet & the all the things they've made possible.

Meanwhile I find vast swathes of the digital age trivial, aesthecitally puny, and outright annoying, nay perhaps even meretricious!! Style elevated over substance, where the substance is . . . pixel dust. Without bottom. Mere Ether. Ecchh.

As for Gen X -- what a laff. I was sick of that, early on. I remember having a long conversation about "irony" in about 1991 with a girlfriend. Scene was Chapel Hill. I had punk hair. I was in a alternative band. I had come to really, really hate "irony", and Cheap, flippant "irony" had become the signature gesture of "my generation". I was screwed!! Then a few years later Alanis Morissette had that hit "Isn't it ironic" (or whatever it was called). From the lyrics you could tell she didn't even know what irony was!! That, at least, was ironic.

Anyway. Back when the internet was still fresh & amazing, when I lived in New York & had lots of friends working in "Silicone Alley", folks would read Wired magazine and vaporize about the brave new world, how the internet was going to cause the kind of upheaval & paradign shift experienced in the early years of the industrial revolution, etc. etc. I never bought it, for some of the reasons mentioned in this post. For one thing, I had grown up in a small Southern town crowded with ancient men and even ancienter women who loved to talk about old times. I remember my Church's minister telling me about the first time, as a child, he saw an automobile. He said it wasn't that big a deal, because a few months earlier he had seen, for the first time, an airplane fly overhead, and nothing could top that in the gee-golly department. He and I were outside at the time he told me this story & I remember looking up and seeing the far-away contrail of some jet liner overhead, and was amazed because, of course, I couldn't remember a time when I didn't see cars all the time, and planes in the sky. Hell, I can't even remember the first time I saw a PC!! That little conversation, more than any other story from the codgers, really brought home how fast the world had changed in the 20th Century. And I noticed that people really seemed to have readily adapted to the change, disgruntled though they may have been. My Great-Grandmother died in 1987 at 100 years of age. The last time I talked to her she described to me how she had finally figured out how to program the VCR my father had bought for her room at the nursing home. When she was born her father and her eldest male first-cousins were Civil War veterans.

So, generally, when people go on about how disoriented people are going to be because of rapid technological change, I usual tend to discount it somewhat. For the most part I think the days of radical conceptual displacement are over (with an exception for whatever the biological sciences may bring us), and that people are generally much more adaptable and resilient than they're credited for.

Posted by: Twn on August 28, 2003 4:09 PM

"From the lyrics you could tell she didn't even know what irony was!! That, at least, was ironic."

Thanks for this---I'm still laughing.

Posted by: annette on August 28, 2003 4:22 PM

J.C.'s comments: "The biggest difference between people who are under 35 and my people - something shared by the under-35s I like and the ones I don't - is that they are very touchy.", and "Grown-up play seems to be something that vanished in the earlier 60's"

That reminds me of a live Ella Fitzgerald record from the mid-60's. As part of her set she did a long, fast scat-singing number where she would work in the melody from various popular songs, as the tunes came to her. Once of 'em was "Hard Day's Night". She stopped and laughed, and the band started changing the rythmn to something a little more down-tempo. Fitzgerald introduced the next tune as a good dance number that wasn't heard that often anymore. "You know how young folks are these days", she said, "they don't like to touch each other when they're dancing!!" The crowd chuckled in a "what a bunch of rubes they are!!" kind of way. . . .

Posted by: Twn on August 28, 2003 4:29 PM

Channeling Joe Brainard:

I remember the first time I saw a computer. It was a TRS-80 Model I, and I thought it was just about the neatest toy in the world.

I remember the first remote control I saw. It was bulky with big metal buttons, and it made a barely audible high-pitched whine whenever anyone clicked the TV on or off. That remote and the sea-green lava lamp were the two coolest things in my grandparents' house.

I remember the first time I saw a clock radio. That was also in my grandparents' house.

I remember not liking video games until my parents bought me an Atari, and I didn't have to pay a quarter for them anymore.

I remember thinking that the old video games with crappy graphics had the best game play. I still don't think anyone has managed to improve on "Asteroids" or "Pac-Man."

I remember reading lots of books when I was a kid, and playing the piano in my teacher's dark Victorian parlor.

What generation am I?

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on August 28, 2003 4:43 PM

If the first remote you saw is as you describe it, and you loved Pac Man---yer a Boomer. I mean, unless your grandparents remote was like 25 years old when you saw it!!! In which case--who was the TV manufacturer??

But "...playing the piano in my teacher's dark Victorian parlor"??? You're either a Boomer... or Charles Dickens speaking from the great beyond.

Posted by: annette on August 28, 2003 4:59 PM

I loved Pac Man but I was a kid. Now some old guy (say some really *old* like 25 year old guy) might have loved Pac Man at the same time. He's a boomer but I'm not.

It's quite remarkable that I used to spend so much time in those dingy spots at the mall stuffing quarters into games. I went through a nostalgia wallow a few years back where I downloaded a bunch of emulators and roms which let you play old Atari 2600 games and the like on your computer. Other than Pitfall, a lot of them were really, really bad.

I remember the first TV remote I saw. It was a big chunky box of plastic with big plastic buttons that clicked when you pressed them. It even had a cord that hooked it up to the TV!!! This was in the very early 80s I'd say.

Posted by: dude on August 28, 2003 5:12 PM

Here's another example of how life has become more stable in recent decades:

What strikes me is the decline in pop music innovation, which has almost wiped out one of the traditionally largest sources of the generation gap. My 14 year old son listens to KROQ, LA's big "New Rock" station, which I started listening to 25 years ago, and the style of music has barely changed since about 1982. The oldies hour is the stuff I listened to on KROQ: Clash, Ramones, and Sex Pistols. We have long discussions of old Elvis Costello songs from 1977. The famous generation gap of the 1960s was to a surprising extent caused by the electric guitar. Young people loved its sound, while their parents, not having been raised on it, couldn't stand it. Today, parents and kids both have been listening to electric guitars their whole lives.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on August 28, 2003 5:31 PM

Deb -- Born in '57? You're a late boomer. Friedrich and I are a few years older, but like you I missed out on many of the supposedly key boomer moments -- we were really just kids through most of the '60s. We watched it pass before our eyes at college, come to think of it. When we were freshmen, the last hippies were seniors. When we were seniors, among the freshmen were the first of the "Wall Street"-style '80s go-getters. There's something to be written by someone about this phenom -- how very many boomers there are who never really did the boomer thing. FvB and I bitched a lot about boomers even way back when, did you? Xers and Yers often seem to think that they're the first generation to complain about the boomers, but in fact there were many boomers, even way back in boomer days, who were making similar complaints.

Deb, Mark -- Is it risky to make generalizations about entire generations? Sure, and that's part of the fun of it, no? More seriously, I think we all move back and forth between large, loose categories and individual examples -- as, in fact, we all are in our comments here. Besides, I defy anyone to make it to 50 without noticing a few "generations" coming along behind. It's a common topic of conversation at workplaces, at least in my experience: "Hey, have you noticed in the last few years how the kids ..." That kind of thing.

JC, Twn -- Great stuff, thanks. You're reminding me of a history I read some years back about the invention of the teenager. Its thesis was that adolescence didn't really exist prior to WW2 -- it did, of course, but until then it was seen as a passage, this thing everyone went through in order to change from a child to an adult, not as a stage that was a big deal in and of itself. What seems to have happened since is that adolescent values have pushed all others off the table, don't you think? What's hot, what's cool, what's stylish, what's sexy. Pop culture triumphant everywhere. Part of what's different about being a teen now and being a teen in the '50s was that back then, the pop-cult-adolescent thing was happening in the context of a general culture that was largely built for adults. These days, the only values around are adolescent values, so the kids coming along have no idea that there might be an upside to being an adult. As far as they can tell, being an adult is just like being a teen, only worse. There are no adults, really, only failed adolescents. Such is the theory I'm working on, anyway.

Tim -- Ah, Joe Brainard, a fave of mine. I don't think he asked a question at the end of his list of "I remembers," did he? You're clearly uncategorizable, in any case.

Dude -- Have you remained a computer-game player? I'm one of those people who suspect computer games help shape minds in one way or another. Did you feel any twinges of nostalgia when you played the old games? I'm curious about whether emotions attach themselves to artifacts in the digital world the same way they do in the analog world.

Steve -- I'm with you. I sometimes picture pop culture as this river that has recently spilled out into the ocean. Not so long ago, we were still afloat on a river, moving in a certain direction. Now, what with computers, Photoshop, cable channels, the web, etc -- what with electronics and pop culture triumphant in every direction -- we're out on the ocean. As for going in a direction? Well, you can go anywhere you want, and all you'll run into is pop culture and electronics. (And electric guitars.) It's all pixels, and it's everywhere ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 28, 2003 6:00 PM

I'm not sure each "generation" can be defined by mindset. Not every Gen Yer is flighty and irresponsible just as not every Boomer is a self-centered politicist. I think of it more as a series of trends and historical events that a particular age group has lived through and adapted accordingly. It's almost like comparing different cultures.

Posted by: sya on August 28, 2003 7:45 PM

I think viewing it as a cultural matter's a very good idea. Allows for lots of variation within the culture while also allowing for valid generalizations about the culture. Thanks.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 28, 2003 7:52 PM

"These days, the only values around are adolescent values, so the kids coming along have no idea that there might be an upside to being an adult."

I agree, and as a Y-er (I guess; I'm 27) I was always perplexed at how young all my friends wanted to remain. I mean, after High School they were paying all this money to go to college and take classes they weren't interested in, and from what I could tell it was mostly because they were just terrified of growing up and doing something on their own. Only one of my friends, just now turned MD, is doing anything with his life related to his college experience.

My path? Well, I wanted to be a writer--a starry-eyed and immature path if ever there was one. But I moved out into an apartment and got a job, so if I wanted to spend my free time typing out nonsense, that was my prerogative. Sure, as an adult you have to make your own money, but you can make your own decisions with it, too. I still haven't published a book, but I've purchased two modest houses and a business, and somehow snatched up a damn fine wife along the way. I'm moving closer to the time when I can write all I like and not worry about selling it.

My wife had a blast at college (she majored in Art History) but it was an extended adolescence for her, too. Her take on it now: "I can't believe my parents spent all that money on college! We could have invested in another house!"

And in the end, the greatest pleasure in adulthood is being able to do all the things your parents said to you, "When you pay for the roof over your head, you can do so-and-so." Take that, mom: I'm eating dessert first & running with scissors!

Granted, we're not having any kids of our own in the forseeable future (swarthy filthy monsters, all of them), so I suppose in many people's books we're not grown up at all. But hey kids, don't let your parents and teachers tell you that the High School years are the best of your life. Not only is that depressing, it's completely false.

Posted by: Nate on August 28, 2003 7:59 PM

I guess a GenY spokesmen (tho a late one...I'm still in college) I have to agree with Nate. My take is that people don't grow up unless they have to. That is, it's easier to remain dependant and comfortable than to do hard work and suffer consequences. It takes a strong personality...or at least an amazingly deluded one, to willingly do something hard. (Or expectional circumstances).

But getting to Micheal's orginal post...I think he hit on why I love to study History. There is something comforting and assuring in seeing that your situation is not speical, nor are problems. That its all happened before, thousands of years of the same mistakes. Something powerfully soothing in that. Also soothing is the idea of Canon, something fixed and unchanging....reaching back for centuries..emcompassing so much history, so many stories, so many passions and failures and situations and styles.

John Fowels said that we spent the last hundred years breaking down the social and sturucture the Victorian's built up. We've had decades of breaking down and deconstruction...I think we need an age of construction and synthesis.

Side notes: People my age are terrible conversationalists. I hope that gets better.

Pixie Dust is a good word for the art doesn't seem to have connection to the past,emotions, a place.. or to anything really. Fireworks in the night


Posted by: JLeavitt on August 28, 2003 8:59 PM

I hate to tell ya this, JL---but to use a hokey quote, Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own"---"the hard is what makes it great." (OK, no sex jokes...).

Or, if you prefer, Amelia Earhart said "Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace."

I'm sure it sounds bad, or scary, and it probably did for me, too, in college but...truly, it doesn't take delusion to choose to do something hard, when you realize how much deeper and more vibrant life is when you risk it. It, in truth, is riskier to stay safe and comfortable, than to "risk the consequences." The least fulfilling times of my life have been when I chose "safe and prudent" over passion and adventure---whatever that means to an individual. It also does not mean it always turns out like you expected.

Maybe the lack of risking, including risking an internal life---back to Michael's comment--is why "Pixie Dust is a good word for the art doesn't seem to have connection to the past,emotions, a place.. or to anything really. Fireworks in the night."

Maybe it's also why parents finally boot kids out of the house.

Posted by: annette on August 28, 2003 10:18 PM

Sorry if I was unclear, but I was observing the people my age, who seem overly depedant on parents and family to do all the work for them. 20 year olds behaving like preteens. I was trying to understand why that is so, why more don't strike on thier own and view parental support as a kind of shameful hinderence to independece.

As for myself, I ran away at 17, hitchhiked to New York and got 2 jobs to pay my rent. Of course, I ended up in an Upper West Side Penthouse, learning to waltz and painting Westport Ladies. But thats alltogether another story.

Posted by: JLeavitt on August 28, 2003 10:53 PM

Steve Sailer -- I think you're oversimplifying the matter of the electric guitar. It's not about the mere existence of the instrument, but about the styles that embraced it. Les Paul was seminal to music evolution as far back as the mid-40's, both in his technical achievements (he was a prolific and crucial inventor) and his electric guitar performances. By the early 60's, the Beatles were opening their sets with the introductory licks from Paul's 1951 recording of "How High The Moon". Jeff Beck once said, "I've copied more licks from Les Paul than I'd like to admit."

The takeaway implication is that serious rock players knew their roots, even if some older people never respected them for that. It represents a bridge across generations that ran backward far more often than forward.

There are disputes over the time-line, but I think I'm safe in saying that, by the mid-60's, the electric guitar was just about twenty years old, in practical terms. I have special insights to this.

You see, my father, born in 1936, was a guitar player all his life. By the mid-60's, he was very seriously into electric guitar. The thing is, his bag was Chet Atkins... which is a very nice bag indeed. However, it wasn't the technology that he had a problem with. It was the matter of style. When the rockers came along and turned their guitars up in order to achieve the sounds that they did, he simply would not have it.

He started teaching me to play in 1969. I still cherish his guitar-duet arrangements of things like Glen Miller's "In The Mood", for example. But it's interesting, to me, to look back: when I started playing rock songs, Dad took it kind of hard -- even though I had not abandoned the genre that he came from. It was many years before he began to understand and appreciate a bit of what I was doing, and it only began to become clear to him in realizing the blues roots of the project. And the reason is that he'd never seriously listened to any of it.

To his dying day, however, he could not stand to hear the tones of a rock guitar. He even asked me explicitly, sometimes: "Can't you play that without making it sound like bloody murder?"

And I think that that's the thing that you're hitting on: when the damned kids started turning up loud, that's when it went beyond the pale. It wasn't the electric guitar, per se. It was the sonic style that developed behind it.

Posted by: Billy Beck on August 29, 2003 3:05 AM

The pendulum is swinging back now. As I understand it (I have four grandkids) vinyl is cool, digital is tomorrow's frisbees and coasters.
My eldest granddaughter at 12 is tragically grown-up and worldly, and weary of it already.

Parents are younger than kids in this generation. The youngsters wear fashion and talk of grown-up problems (most of them have at least one step-parent). Their folks wear playclothes and watch TV with them and my observations (I don't care much for TV) lead me to conclude that they atend to find a consensus to watch what I would see as rather juvenile fare. (The Harry Potter phenomenon reflects this too).

I suspect generation Z is going to be a pretty severe and soberly responsible lot when it gets a bit older.

Posted by: Dave F on August 29, 2003 7:32 AM

Yep. Still play computer games. Europa Universalis II pretty much is the only one I play right now . . . I recommended it if you're into that sort of thing. A little dry and highbrow for a computer game but fascinating none the less.

Nostalgia and computer games - yes. I get that twinge win I fire up my emulator and play an old Atari and Apple games. Funny, the most powerful thing is often the cheezy sound effects and music* rather than the visuals. But it's nostalgia that's indistinguishable from the ordinary kind you might associate with seeing people and places from your younger days.

One thing though, in the same way buildings often seem smaller than you remember, games often seem, well, cruder than you remember. How could you spend hours playing these things? But you did.

* There's actually a subgenre of electronic music based around cheezy 8-bit game music. It's called chiptunes.

Posted by: dude on August 29, 2003 10:34 AM

Like, dude, what the hell are ya talkin' 'bout, dude? Why ya usin' such big words, dude? Like, totally, and what the hellz analog, yo? Anywayz, all these words are makin' me tired, dude, I think I'm a go chill in front of my plasma TV and watch the VMAs, yo. I just wanna forget about North Korea's hard-on for nukulurz and all these crazy bombings and that war over in the mideast or wherever (just don't ask me to point it out on a map, dude!) and Cali's bizarre political situation and thems scary blackouts and and and and shit -- I'm overloading, LOL!. Check ya later, dude! Btw, A/S/L plz.

Posted by: pete on August 30, 2003 5:47 PM

Jesus, I'm gonna have Baby Boomers crapping on me until they're all safely in their grave.

First of all, you have no idea what Generation X and Generation Y mean. 35 is like the middle of Generation X. 21 is Generation Y. The term "Generation X" comes from Douglas Coupland's book of the same name -- it describes people in their mid-twenties during the Bush I recession. Gen-Xers knew that the economy could suck long before the stock market bubble burst.

Second of all, whoever you think Generation X is, don't you think it's a little _rude_ to dismiss an entire generation, saying you have no use for them?

Posted by: Walt Pohl on September 5, 2003 3:05 AM

Dave -- They do seem mighty burned out and weary mighty young, don't they. And not just as a pose. Any thoughts about why?

Dude -- That's fascinating to learn that nostalgic feelings do adhere to video and computer games, thanks. My own emotions have a hard time finding a grip on digital artifacts, but then I was formed during the analog years.

Pete -- Chillin'. Rad. Or something.

Walt -- Two questions. One: I don't get to have and express a personal opinion about a group of people I've had some experience with? Says who? And since when? And two: Who exactly is being rude here?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 5, 2003 12:06 PM

We are both being rude, obviously. But no, you are not entitled to form an opinion of a large and disparate group based on your experience with a few members.

Posted by: Walt Pohl on September 7, 2003 3:16 AM

It's always struck me as a little odd to talk about Generation X, Y, and Z--as if Z will be the last ever. Of course, maybe Z will simply be the last to be fully biologically human.
On a different note, for as long as I can remember (I'm 37, I'm not old!) I have never seen any real difference between Western traditional (i.e; folk)music and Rock, and have never been too interested in each (or any) Great New Wave. The themes are basically the same--maybe Rock is a little more restricted in its themes. Am I missing something, or is it that, as an old-line Canadian, I'm predisposed to be unimpressed? Or am I just clueless?

Posted by: RWilson on September 17, 2003 7:43 AM

I'm a very confused teen who is in derire need of information on "how to change from a child to an adult." If anyone can help me with this, it will conclude my therory on life all together, but of course I can not make that conclusion with out proper facts.

Posted by: Derek on October 10, 2003 6:01 AM

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