Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Does the Younger Generation Lack Substance?

Is the younger generation totally lacking substance? Many have argued that in the age of quick bites (or bytes) of information in place of intense and involved content consumption, the youth of today are completely one-dimensional. They only know what they read on the Internet, only appreciate the opinions of their peers, and think they know it all after watching a few news programs. But is this true?

I've often argued in favour of the teens today: just because they're communicating via instant messaging, speaking in choppy, bite-sized sentences that involve "like" as every second word, and often using cryptic Internet slang (lol, ttfn), this doesn't mean that they're stupid or lack the capacity to actually carry on an intelligent conversation (like, seriously!) But I'm beginning to wonder if all of this sporadic, digital consumption is in fact leading to a seriously intellectually (or culturally) deprived group of individuals.

What prompted this thinking? For the past few weeks, I've been reading and hearing about all the hoopla surrounding the movie Twilight, which is based on the hugely popular book series of the same name. Shopping mall tours are jam-packed with fans looking to meet the actors. Young girls everywhere are screaming at the top of their lungs at the sight of the lead actor, what's-his-name (and yes, he is an unknown actor). Wow, I've been thinking to myself. I know I've heard that these books are really good, and it looks like the movie is just as great. It was only recently that I found out the movie hasn't even hit theatres yet!

I understand why there was a lot of anticipation for the new Bond movie before it came out. Daniel Craig proved himself a great actor in the last one and, well, the Bond series has been around for decades and has built a longstanding reputation and fan base. The same goes for the latest Batman installment, Dark Knight. Heath Ledger was an actor known to always deliver a fantastic performance. But the young'ens today are going crazy for this new actor guy with clearly no clue as to whether he, or the movie, is actually any good! Apparently a brooding face, spiky hair, and smart marketing are enough to warrant a fan base these days.

Within the next few years, the early baby boomer crowd will slowly be moving into retirement, while these teens and tweens enter the workforce. Let's hope that by that time, some substance is injected back into the group as a whole, and they, like, learn a thing or two about true appreciation for the spoken or written word; and for someone's acting chops by actually seeing them act, not just crack a smile on the red carpet.

Bookmark and Share


A Fellow Gen-Yer said...

Christine, I am going to disagree with you on this one. Tweens and teens of this generation are no different then the tweens and teens of past generations with regards to being screaming fans. Many girls used to line-up on street corners just to get a glimpse of Ringo Star, Elvis, and even Jordan Knight(NKOTB). Also, no matter what generation you were born in we all grew up with our own set of slang words, be it LOL or psyche, or whatever words you might have used growing up. We might have grown up in different generations but somethings never change.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Gen-Yer,

Thanks for the comment. I am certainly not denying that there have been screaming fans of every generation, and yes, often times the reason did have something to do with the person's look, or even the character they played in a movie or on TV. My point is that this actor is not well known, and these kids haven't even seen the movie yet! So why are they screaming? If you screamed for the Beatles, it was probably because you appreciated their music. Ditto for Elvis and the boys of NKOTB (truth be told, I never really liked them myself, but that's besides the point). Sure, it didn't hurt that they were also nice to look at, but the screaming fans didn't start going nuts until they actually listened to their music and deduced that they liked it. Today, it seems any boy with a pretty face will do; to the point that it doesn't matter WHAT he actually does to BE famous. Take the growing group of "famous for being famous" people in young Hollywood for example.

Anyway, thanks for the input!

Lee_D said...

I knew that I had gotten older when I started using the phrase "kids today" without irony.

In truth, people have been bemoaning the decline of civilization, and yes, kids today, since Roman times, if not earlier.

I concur with Gen-Y, young people are really no different than they've ever been.

Kestral said...

I think there is one distinct difference between Gen Y and other generation (I'm a very late Gen X'er that gets mistaken for Gen Y quite frequently, fyi for context), which is that Gen Y did not have to face any real adversity.

Every generation prior has had to deal with some rough times of some sort, but Gen Y was born in a time of financial prosperity and wealth. Never has a generation been born into such wealth and privilege, and haven't had any true adversity to deal with.

Of course, this could all change very shortly, and then we'll see what Gen Y is really made of.

Richard said...

I do agree that this is the perception of Gen-Y and it is hard to argue with it when you hear some of the truly stupid things young people say. When you hear a supposed role model like Sarah Palin (Vice Presidential running mate of John McCain) doesn't know that Africa is a continent, not a country, it is hard to argue that it is just the younger generation.

Richard said...

By the way, the lead actor of "Twilight", Robert Pattinson had a major role in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", so I'm sure quite a few young people know who he is.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Richard,

Thanks for clarifying about the Twilight guy. I guess I was wrong about him being "unknown!" You know you're getting old when you can no longer keep up with all of the "hot" teen/tween actors these days!

And Lee_D, you're right: people have been saying "kids today" forever. I guess perhaps you see things differently when you're in the moment and not looking from the outside in, 20 years later.

Let's hope you're all right!