The Diagnosis of a Generation
by Benjamin Hammond
When one looks at our generation (and by that I mean the current teenagers, those born around the 90s), it is common for people to come to the conclusion that there is a problem. A lot of people just disregard us as rude, stubborn, or desensitised. It is possible that some of these may be true, and that there is indeed a problem. It is also possible that we are being judged wrongly.
The important thing to understand when dealing with such a matter is that every generation faces a challenge. Every generation has a common mountain that each of them has to climb. And that’s a good thing. The fact that so many of us has a potential common enemy means we can work together to overcome it. The more people there is, the better. It is part of nature for a challenge to present itself, and as a generation, we do have one. But what is it?
Our generation is an interesting case. My post may be a little biased, as I am speaking from one side only. I cannot come out of this generation, and observe from the outside. I am part of this generation, but that gives me insight into things that outsiders may not be able to observe. One thing I do know about our generation, is that we are just about the first, if not possibly the second generation to be able to have so many things on a global scale. The number one aim for companies and cooperations with us as their customers is ease. We have so many things at the touch of the button. I can call my grandma, who lives in Ghana for under a pound within a few seconds. Not longer than a few decades ago, talking to someone in Ghana would have meant a long journey and lots of food and water. I can get from London to Paris in under a few hours. At one point, it would have taken a couple of weeks. I can see the faces of people on the other side of the world. At one point – the other side of the world was too far away to be known about! One of the most common terms I hear among teens today is, “Effort.” This basically means, “It takes effort. I’m not doing it.” Our generation has been plunged into an effortless lifestyle.
“So?” you ask, “What’s the big deal? Things are being made easier for us. Isn’t that a good thing?” Well in one sense, yes. It is a good thing that we have so much at the touch of a button, but it’s not that I am concerned with. It is more indirect. In such a world, we cannot get away from the ease and the apparent comfort, it’s necessary to live in the world. What I am concerned with is our dependancy on these things. What makes it worrying is this: A couple of hundred years ago, what people may have been dependant on was quite secure. The population was small, and resources were numerous. They had their lifestyle securities in animals for transport, the plants for remedies, the soil and stones for building etc. If any of these things came to be redundant, there was plenty more to go around. But us? What are our lifestyle securities in? Invisible streams of electrons moving from satellite to satellite and bringing us notifications and messages. Our securities are easily pulled up from their foundations. All we need is a major power-cut, and I know people who will struggle to come to terms with things. Even though what people put their trust in many years ago was not 100% secure, I can tell you that as time goes on, what we are putting out trust in is becoming less and less secure. Eventually, our trust could be in the hands of people who won’t care much for us, and will have us at their mercy. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a problem to me.
Another thing is attention span. This one problem I even have with myself. Today, things don’t just happen easily, they happen quickly. We don’t want to wait for things. The quicker things happen, “The better” we think. We don’t go to shops as much as we used to, all we need to do now is to click a few buttons online, and we can attend to other things while someone comes and unloads our shopping. I’m not saying that things that happen quickly are wrong, I’m just saying that it is not good to become the kind of person who can’t function unless things are happening at a fast pace. The very reason is this: In life, there are certain things that will never be able to happen at a fast pace. For example, grwoing in character. You will find that many people will not talk about character today. They will talk about a ‘new’ T.V. show, or the ever changing world of fashion. It’s all small talk. What takes time and foundation is all ‘boring’. There used to be times when people could converse over one topic for an entire day. Now, it’s one topic per five minutes. We can’t allow our attention to go any further than what will give us a short buzz of excitement, and then another, and another and so on.
To conclude, these are some of the problems our western generation faces as a whole. We have short attention spans, and we find it hard to engage in activities that require ‘effort’. Those are only two things, but they sum it up quite well. It’s a sad thing, but then, do remember that every generation faces their own problems. These are ours, and we need to take it on. Don’t put your security in the appliances we use so often. We are being sucked into a bubble of fantasy, that, at any moment could burst, and this world would collapse on top of us. We need to stop relying on things like technology as our end. You may not realise it, as it is likely to be so indirect. (Warning, personal opinion coming). As a Christian, my foundation is God. All technology may fail, but God never does. He is the ultimate security. But as for our generation, to rely on security and comfort is on the edge.