Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Will Millennials Save Us All?

A Millennial Unlikely to Save Many: Abby Huntsman

One of the stranger articles appearing in the popular media lately is entitled: 'The New Greatest Generation: Why Millennials Will Save Us All' (TIME, May 20, p. 26) by Joel Stein. It is strange given my already raised concerns over the Millennial set, e.g.  http://www.brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/04/bernie-sanders-schools-millennial-moron.html   and also the facts- data that Stein himself introduces in his article, including:

- The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times higher for people in their 20s than for the generation 65 and older. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissim scale in 2009 than for those in 1982.

- They are too fame- over- substance obsessed (Three times as many middle school girls aspire to be personal assistants to famous people rather than Senators or environmental activists or substantive persons in their own right)

- Their development is "stunted" - more people ages 18-29 live with their parents than with a spouse (according to the 2012 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults.)

- They display an overbloated sense of self esteem fed by over-doting parents who rewarded 'em when tots even if they drew a crappy sketch of an egg. Hence, they've come to expect rewards from society for just showing up.

- A sense of "entitlement" - including when living with mom and pop at age 26, being able to get satellite TV or at least cable, having cell phone access, and not being given any miserly curfews!

But never mind all that, Millennials -at 80 million strong - comprise the biggest age grouping in American history. This also suggests that they potentially could have the most profound effects on shaping any future America. As Stein puts it (p. 28): "They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution".

And given the headlines of the past week or so- what with Bradley Manning's trial, and Edward Snowden coming forth with leaks on the monster NSA 'snuff out all 4th amendment rights' dragnet program - who can blame oldsters for agreeing? Both Manning and Snowden are Millennials, though granted not your "instagramming  24/7 to make sure I'm alive for friends"  types. But don't tell that to John Boehner, who called Snowden a "traitor", or Saxby Chambliss who opined yesterday:  "Well if he ain't a traitor he's pretty close to it."  This coming from a Georgia chicken hawk who escaped the Vietnam War out of some dubious excuse but had the nerve to cast unpatriotic aspersions on then Sen. Max Cleland (a wounded Viet Vet) to snatch his seat.  

So, pardon me while I don't dump on these two upstanding newsworthy Millennials who, if as Stein also insists will "save us all" - may be the models that 18- 29 year old generation ought to shoot for.  Which brings us to Stein's positive points on their behalf:

- Because Millennials don't respect authority they also don't resent it.

- Millennials have especially close bonds with their parents who they regard as 'friends'.

-Millennials are "nice". They have none of that David Letterman irony, and prefer a boundless optimism to negativity. On the net they therefore tend to dwell on things positive and stay away from things negative (likely including blogs like mine which probably have way more negative stuff than they can handle - but which I call REALITY).

- Millennials are more accepting of differences, not just among gays, women and minorities - but in every one. In other words, you can kind of visualize them as the exact opposites of my brother, "Pastor" Mike.  As one Millennial was quoted in the piece: "There's not this us-vs.-them thing now. Maybe that's why Millennials don't rebel."

Stein then goes on to cite Tom Brokaw (not exactly one of my favorite sources, after he caused Marina Oswald to terminate a rude 1993 interview with him, and his recent insistence 'better off' oldsters give up their social security for the next generations - thanks, but no thanks, Tom) who calls them the "wary Generation". This is because they " exhibit a certain cautiousness in life decisions which is a smart response to their world".

On this basis, Stein ends with a "more rounded picture" and even - some might say - an exaggerated one, given he ends by suggesting this group might "save us all". His reasons?

- They're earnest and optimistic (check)

- They embrace the System (Uh-oh! Better then read my blog post  http://www.brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/09/america-haters-uhhno-system-haters.html

- They are pragmatic idealists, tinkerers more than dreamers, life hackers.

-  Their world is so flat they they have no leaders which is why the OWS movement had even less chance than previous rebellions.

- And, of course, the usual pompasetting set up: they have delivered more techie wonky products, including apps, new iPhones, etc. then any other group.

Fair enough, but is that enough to save us all? Now, note I don't discount the notion because - truth be told, I regard what both Pfc. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have done at least on a par with Millennial Wunderkind Zuckerberg's Facebook. That may be  "Treasonous" to say, but there it is. The reason is simple: if we have information on how the government is curtailing our rights we can still have time to at least ACT (if we can get enough Americans off their asses - latest polls show 56% agree with the NSA program) instead of ending up with a possible condition like the Chinese have - where their Googling choices are severely restricted.  And don't think it can't happen here if extreme right wing paranoids occupy the oval office!

BBC Anchor Katty Kay tried to emphasize that on 'Morning Joe' this morning, but both Mika Brzezinski (emulating more the dumb blonde this a.m.) and Donnie Deutsch (emulating the clueless Madison Avenue adman know-nothing) expressed disbelief: 'That would never happen here!'  Sorry, folksies, that's also what the Germans thought ca. 1931-33 until Hitler became Chancellor!

My point here is a  search device like Google or even the social media Facebook would mean nothing if we lived under a giant surveillance spy state that was also tyrannical and imposed extreme censorship- and slipped in photos of smiling tyrants on your FB pages with the words 'We're watching you!'.

So I grant that Millennials can conceivably save us all, but if they do it will be along the lines of exhibiting not so much entrepeneurial genius (though they may well be important - say if they invent a device that can neutralize all potential gov't snooping making leaks unnecessary) but the courage to act in the interest of all citizens - like Manning and Snowden have done.

Here's some other advice for those Millennials who aspire to saving us all:

1. Don't accept the System! The "system" is exactly that corrupt nexus of government, big business, the military and banksters which gave rise to the surveillance state. Read my blog post on the link shown above.

2. Remember: People in power will always try to manipulate you into acceptance of their rotten System and memes!

This is why it pays to have at least part of your suspicious - negative 'lizard brain' working and aware since the power mongers' brains surely will be. The most recent gross mass manipulation was before the Iraq War when millions marched round the world to protest any potential U.S. involvement - but the mammoth protests were marginalized by the too cozy U.S. press, who also then began their disgusting pro-war drumbeating, to drive public opinion to the favorable threshold the Bushies felt comfortable at launching an invasion.

3.Doing Nothing is Obeying a Deadly Order.

Yes, there is such a thing as a sin of omission and too many commit it because of the fear of sticking necks out, or leaving places of comfort. Just look at young Edward Snowden who might easily have remained living in his Hawaiian apartment while raking in $200,000 a year and ignoring the distressing things he saw with PRISM. But he threw that all away to act out of conscience. (And no, asshole Jeff Toobin, hate to break it to you  -but no "narcissist" permanently tosses that much of his life away!)

As fellow blogger David Swanson put it:

"But a sin of omission is morally and effectively equivalent to a sin of commission. We need to be saving the earth and we're not doing so. We're allowing global warming and other major environmental destruction to roll ahead. We're allowing militarization and warmaking to advance. We're watching the concentration of wealth. We see the division of society into castes. We know we're building prisons and drones and highways and pipelines while closing schools and condemning our grandparents to poverty. We are aware that we're funding multi-billionaires with our hard work while fueling mass suffering, bitterness, rage, frustration, and violence."

4. Obedience Is Extremely Dangerous Because It's What the Fascists Depend On

Obedience, too much of it, is what most Germans of the WW II era still around agree sunk their nation. They were too docile, too agreeable while one small step, then another, then another was taken to remove their liberties. First the newspapers and their editors were challenged, their windows broken, presses destroyed and they said or did nothing. Then the editors were taken and sent away and they did nothing. Then the labor unions were shut down and they said nothing. Then the existing Constitution of the Weimar Republic was changed - replacing it with Reich laws - and no one spoke out. Then, the Gestapo began appointing neighbors to spy and report on neighbors and it was essentially too late.

The "Good German" - that solid patriot who was a rock behind what he believed to be a resurgent nation, was in reality the assistant architect to a dictatorship that sought global domination. Will the contemporary "Good American" be the same? Or will he manifest as something different, say like Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden - thereby postponing or eliminating a future that could resemble Germany's Nazi past?

The answers to those questions will determine if the Millennials really can save us all, or actually become part of the problem: a real world disconnected, cyber- hyper-connected group of mostly tech -app consumers - unaware of history, or even our own nation's politics, economics. Steeped more in the glitzy lure of  the Kardashians than the Kennedys of the 1960s.

I guess it boils down to whether most Millennials will become more like Abby Hunstman, or more like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.

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