December 12, 2009
One of the surprising aspects of last night was the ongoing conversation I had with Whisky. We were sitting in Section 8 drinking our beer when two couples came over to our corner and sat amongst us. You could see Whisky bristle. None of them would have been older than 22, a couple of skinny guys, a redhead and an attractive brunette. Whisky explained to me, he was tired of the lack of manners amongst Gen Y. They had come over and plopped themselves down without bothering to check if the seats were available. It was not that they were rude – at least not in my view – but oblivious, which seems to be a leading characteristic of that generation.
I was surprised to hear Whisky speak that way. I’ve had some misgivings for a while now, which have really come to a head since the ‘black face’ incident (which is proving to be a seminal moment in in the development of my philosophy), but I have kept them to myself. I had presumed that Whisky had not given them a second thought. I was wrong.
Compounding the situation last night was the inoffensive nature of this little group, particularly the males. Whisky cast an eye around the venue at the groups of drinkers and we agreed they seemed typical of most there. Whisky, I think, was offended by their very inoffensiveness. I understood, though for me it has long been an established fact. If I push I want to be pushed back. So does Whisky. It’s what we expect. It’s what is healthy. That’s what he wanted last night; it’s what I had ceased to expect.
There seems no doubt in anyone’s mind now that the generation that has come after us is very different to what we are. It’s only natural given that difference that we will be critical of it: few of us will admit to being of the inferior brand. Inferior/superior perhaps shouldn’t be a part of the conversation, but it’s hard to avoid. Human nature is that we attribute values to our opinions, and make judgements. Difference in itself is not enough. It has to be scored.
As we are our own benchmark then it’s obvious that we will score others down, for they are not us.* We judge by the standards we have ourselves applied, and which we deem to me most important. Our judgement by it’s nature is subjective, but it is also instinctive.
I find much I instinctively recoil from when it comes to Gen Y. I’m inclined to believe that Gen Y are a less masculine, much less robust brand of person than we are. In our world they are serious indictments. When Whisky was floundering to find the words to describe it I supplied them: they don’t have an edge I said. Yes, that was it he agreed.
Now I dare say conversations like these have been going on for eons. Every generation believes the generations that come after are somehow less. That too is human nature. Gen Y no doubt grumble about us, and will grumble again by whoever is to succeed them.
* Let me pat myself on the back here, because this is a neat summation and clear eyed perspective on the reality of discrimination that most are too blind to see. We judge everyone by ourselves, and the world we are a part of, and it’s rare that anyone will measure up. I have the same cosy worldview as most people, but I think I’m smart enough to understand that what I see is skewed by that prejudice. Ultimately I act on my rational and considered opinion, and not my easy prejudice.