This is It
This is it. One generation left. Global warming, peak oil, and overpopulation are the super villains, and we are echo boomers, the super heroes. We’ve seen terrorist attacks, fought in far-away wars, and battled a depressed economy after we recovered from a stock market crash as we’re scolded for living in our parent’s houses and bouncing from one job to the next. We watched the internet grow into a government-toppling force as we obsessed over our online identities and curated our profiles. But as we become more aware than any generation before us of the world we will inherit, we can only be certain of an uncertain future. We’re paralyzed by the inevitability of the calamity we face, and our refuge is the vast echo chamber of the internet. And our parents, once caught in the mindless propaganda of the Cold War, have little advice on a planet where friends are enemies and enemies are friends. In response, we’ve built massive online communities devoted to ourselves and immersed our minds in pop culture, shielding us from the any hints of a future over a week away. Our happiness has been distilled down to clever animated images and perfectly and imperfectly lit photos overlaid by sharply contrasting text, those brief bits of joy nothing but glory to the creator. We’re glued to an endless stream of updating content, addicted to controlling the rate of consumption. There is no Hitler and no Sputnik; the rules of engagement come in the form of suicide bombers and sudden uprisings. With no clear enemy to fight against, and no allies to fight for, and we are left with a depressing lack of cohesion. Counter culture is in fashion, and punks are now parents. We are obsessed with ornate decorative elements while we devour the floor-to-ceiling glass of modernity. The great power of the internet to connect has only brought us closer to the familiar and further from the beautiful unknown. Perfect personalization and infinite customization, coupled with instant ordering and fast shipping put us at the center of the stage, and we love it. We are crippled by everything we have. We are struggling to find ourselves. Society is changing too quickly for us to define ourselves as a cohesive cultural platform. We are not rebels, we don’t make music or protests or drama. There is no emotion, no passion left. We’ve been whittled down to the raw materials of motivation: saving lives, making money, finding happiness. We are the generation of hipsters, and we’re afraid to admit it, because we don’t know what it is yet we don’t want to be one. It is the epitome of insecurity, and we are scared of the future. Our insecurity runs all the way down to the words we say. Racist and sexist remarks have been scraped clean from our education, as we’re continually reminded to watch our behavior in the educational system’s “zero tolerance” culture. The little music that could be construed as the songs of our generation – electronic dance music – is so politically correct, it rarely has words. The main feature of our protests and disruptions are not their effectiveness but how they’re decentralized, as if assigning a leader marks him for assassination. It should come as no surprise how ineffective our generation’s “youth rebellion” has become. On the social networks we’re purported to frequent, we’ve built pristine rough drafts of ourselves – we are grammatically incorrect enough to be genuine, but sensitive enough to not be misconstrued as mean. Our aggressive self-censorship is the central hallmark of our consciousness of the future – and as the excessive analysis of presidential candidates reinforces, we should all prepare ourselves to be future presidents. At the same time, we abhor the polished consumerism of today, opting for organic food markets and low budget television shows, wishing for a more authentic experience provided by small businesses. We seek the coarse drama in fantasy because we’re too afraid to produce it ourselves. With the rise of intrusive social networks and perfect partner-finding services, an increasing marriage age shows we’re no longer interested in each other. We are now able to dive deeper into our interests than ever before, surrounding ourselves with nothing other than what we enjoy. The workplace will be turned upside down, with more females in universities than men – and yet departments are observing more and more skewed gender ratios due to self-segregation. It seems that by accident, we really don’t want to change the landscape of the future. On the bright side, we’re in it together. The digital revolution has given each of us incredible tools to build the businesses and industries of the future, and so far, our generation has shown an unparalleled ability to find the inventions that are possible in this day and age. Now that we have realized our individual potential to succeed beyond the confines of the soul-crushing businesses of our forefathers, we can free up our best minds to solve the problems we are motivated to solve, forming better solutions to more pressing problems. We have proven ourselves as adept innovators of the web, quickly grasping its repercussions and its possibilities to spin out new ideas faster than ever before. We’re building collaborative tools and creative forums to foster our collective intelligence. For the first time in history, we can safely say that we are connected by our abilities and personalities rather than our location or the nation. Our way of taking advantage of the boundaries our ancestors felled is to forge those connections that they could not make in order to build a more effective generation. We’ve been warned that the world is flat. Competition is global. But perhaps the defining characteristic of this decade is not shallow individualism but spontaneous collaboration. Each photo we upload enhances the chance of a serendipitous encounter with an online friend-of-friend, potentially blossoming into a grand partnership. Firms hire globally to hire the best, and relocations occur on a whim because we are not tied down. Startups are like machine gun bullets in the fast-paced business world – working hard until they hit the target, where one in a million hit make it big. We have no room for slow failures – the only way to try is to try hard. In this new world, we can all win. With no robber barons or colonial powers, it is up to us to set the economics and politics of society. We can simultaneously root for pop stars and reject pop culture now that we have the ability to congregate and disassemble in mere minutes, accumulating millions for our causes and quickly disrupting our foes. It is up to us as individuals to define our own wave to ride, to carve our own path to follow. Our own unprecedented access to information lets us teach ourselves, freeing us from silos of knowledge, letting us decide what we want to know. Perhaps our greatest achievement, and yet the most uninteresting, will be the great equality. And yet it is meaningless precisely because it is a solution to a problem that should not have existed, just like climate change and environmental destruction. But we may only be able to solve the problems of the planet if we first come to terms with who we are, together.