|"One day, we will all be this old"|
Generation X carried an apathetic, polar opposite philosophy to the “everything is possible” notion of the free-thinking Baby Boomers; themselves an extreme liberal reaction to the dystopian horrors of World War Two. Young adults of the 1980’s carried similar apathy toward social change, but threw all their passion into a narcissistic sense of serving the self. The grunge-driven youth of the 1990’s brooded in a calm, morose self-pity. And the Cold Y Kids of the noughties, were little more than an unaware, high-definition replica of their 80’s counterparts; with broadband.
Each new generation is in many ways, a reaction against the last. This is a natural, consistent occurrence; born from both the wildfire hormonal desire of the teenage years to piss off guardians, by rejecting their values. And a rites of passage mentality of young adults, to stamp a unique imprint upon the world. The social ethos of today’s Generation X-Box; who reside as kings of life - through ignorance and inexperience of youth, is not one of rebellion, as much as believing they are masters of the Internet; a form of technology which already sets them apart from the past, to carry any need to fight the power; which in reality, it does. Before the noughties, there was no Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, fibre-optic wifi, the iPhone, or any means to communicate to anyone globally, with such ridiculous ease. This leaves them seeing a very fresh and modern world, as already theirs; stamping their place in history - without any need to reject, or even try to understand notions of apathy, extreme philosophies, or any idea of civilizational construct.
Unfortunately for them, the invention carries such immense power, that much like the light bulb, the wheel, or recorded sound, the first generation to embrace it, are also the most likely to abuse it. Every luxury eventually becomes a necessity, and it takes time for anything truly original to both bed in, and for our species to begin understanding its full capabilities. It means another decade of rampant trolling, shameless selfies, and the usual array of nobody really listening to anyone; yet criticizing every viewpoint and belief they express. For Generation X-Box – and anyone alive, for that matter, the Internet is still an odd curiosity; a tool of entertainment, as opposed to an invention providing possibilities in progressive social substance.
Over the next twenty years, the infants of today will grow into children, teenagers, and finally, young adults; viewing the Internet in a whole different light. They are unlikely to see the invention as inherently theirs, but will come to know it as a tool of life; their respect will be different to it, in that they will be the first to have respect for it. Where the generation above them uses its powers to wallow in ego-driven narcissism, and pointless provocation, the new breed will become its first real architects and curators; taking the invention to a level we as yet cannot even begin to imagine. The now 40-something’s will face a whole new challenge to a concept they always deemed to be theirs alone. Don’t believe me? Go watch the average six-year-old navigate their way around an iPad, then try telling me with a straight face it doesn’t make you feel like a dinosaur; those minds and fingers aren't getting any slower!
While today's young adults of the internet are by-enlarge thick, lazy, and possibly the most lacking in awareness towards practically everything in history, in history, I am an optimist. It took three decades for guitar players to evolve twelve-bar-blues into Rock and Roll, or for television to morph from The Sullivans to The Sopranos. As far as the Internet is concerned, it is the very young children of today who will recognize and rebel against the moronic, thoughtless nature of modern web use; by embracing a more thoughtful, socially progressive outlook on tomorrow’s Internet.
It is by no means a guarantee, as one slight change in direction alters any course of history with drastic measure. But the root core power of the internet; to connect with anyone in the world, anywhere, and in real time, will always remain the same. How this is utilised, can only change with time - hopefully for the better. I only hope the generation after theirs, don’t take it all back to where it is now…