Apparently, we are “the millenians.”We are the skinny-jeaned, cell phone holstered, entitled, disillusioned, emerging adults of tomorrow. How will we change the world? Will we be seen as the geniuses who made the leap from instant messaging at age 11, thinking up clever acronyms like POS (parent over shoulder) to keep nosy parents at bay, to the riveting hours spent facebooking everyone and anyone? Will we be the clever age group who turned out in millions to vote for Obama, and then forgot to vote for anything else? Will we be the red plastic cup holding Lady Gaga worshipping population who never learned how to really dance?
Or will we be the ones who started to live with intention? We could be the ones to turn it around. To demand that our jobs mean something and to really think about what we teach our children–from the real meanings of the bright pages of the books they read, to the food they eat and what they think “nature” means. We could be the ones to start thinking and living for our children’s children’s children–something that hasn’t been done for centuries.
What if we weren’t remembered for sex, drugs, and alcohol? Lately, I’ve been feeling like the legacy of a generation is perhaps most tangibly (or audibly) represented in the music they leave behind. The 1960s were an album of revolution, compassion, meaningful melody, and lyrical genius. They were the Beatles and Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. I listened to those voices growing up, and was terrified of the day they would be replaced on the “Oldies” station with something else. I don’t want to live to see the day Ke$ha finds her way on to the Oldies station of future generations. As James Farrell points out in his chapter on parties in The Nature of College, much of what we seek as a generation on Friday and Saturday nights in our obligatory years spent at well respected (and highly priced) universities are spent searching for meaningless fun. We grind and we kiss and we drink and we yell over the thudding beat of speakers three sizes too big.
And yet, those unsteady too-wide smiles are not our only side. We are capable of forging meaningful ties. We are more social than any generation before us. We have been told our whole lives that we will change the world. This may be interpreted as coddling, or just plain lying, but it could also prove to help us in the long run. We are not a silent youth. True, we depend more than ever, and longer than ever, on the pocketbooks of our parents. We have a tendency to close ourselves off in little bubbles where we don’t have to deal with the larger issues of the world. We think that if we move through the steps we’ve been told will get us to “success” we’ll be happy. But we have an incredible sense of optimism too. Maybe tonight finds me in a particularly idealistic mood, but I think that if our generation makes a conscious effort to look at how and why we live our lives, thinking about the legacy we will leave behind, we could make it worthwhile. Here’s to hoping bands like Bright Eyes, Mumford and Sons, Arcade Fire, and the Decemberists make it to the ears of our kids before Ke$ha and Little Wayne do.