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April 02, 2008

L'Anomie! Le Cynicisme!

In the wee dawn hours of the morning the Editorial Staff sprang from betwixt the marital sheets to the detestable chirping of the alarum on her bedside table. The assemblage of the spousal sandwich complete, we grabbed a cup of liquid courage and shuffled sleepily down the hall to see what horrors awaited us in the daily fishwrap.

queue_21938t.jpgImagine our shock when, expecting grim remonstrances from the intrepid souls who risk life and limb to remind us America is sadly bereft of the comforting approval of such moral avatars as France, Germany, and Syria or clear-eyed assessments of our steady decline into levels of economic misery not seen since the 1920's, instead we suddenly spied something strange, something utterly alien upon the digital pages before our astonished eyeballs... Something... dare we say it?

Unprecedented. A ray of hope! How the helk did that get there?

Popular culture would have us believe that anyone under 30 is a cynical brat or a self-absorbed sluggard, intent on hedonistic impulses alone.

But that's a myth, at least according to J. Walter Thompson, the nation's largest advertising agency.

Thompson has plumbed the consciousness of the so-called "millennials" — those between 21 and 29 — to reveal a generation brimming with adultlike respect for American institutions, family values and work ethics, despite a few quirks.

Among the findings: 94 percent said they respect monogamy and parenthood, while 84 percent revere marriage. Eighty-eight percent respect the U.S. Constitution, 84 percent respect the military and more than three-fourths believed in the proverbial "American dream." Fewer than one in four, however, said they have any admiration for Hollywood.

"We were completely surprised. There has been a faulty portrayal of millennials by the media — television, films, news, blogs, everything. These people are not the self-entitled, coddled slackers they're made out to be. Misnomers and myths about them are all over the place," said Ann Mack, who directed the survey and is the official "director of trend-spotting" at the agency.

"Their opinions of monogamy and marriage are products of the era they grew up in, a reaction against a reality-TV world or their unstable childhoods. They are more traditional in their views because they want something better for their own families," Ms. Mack said.

The research revealed few millennials are "boomerang kids" who sponge off parents after leaving college.

"Just 15 percent lived with their parents, 25 percent lived with their spouse and child(ren), 19 percent with a partner, 18 percent with their spouse, 15 percent alone and 8 percent with a roommate," the study said.

The group is not sitting home watching soap operas, either. The survey found that more than three-quarters were employed full time, with an additional 19 percent employed part time. Two-thirds agreed that a "formal appearance" at work is important, with an equal number agreeing that employees owe their company loyalty.

The Editorial Staff is so confused. Is the world going to hell in a handbasket, or not?

Is the so-called "American Dream" as hard to find as coherence in a Paul Krugman column? Or is it still within reach (as our children seem to think)? Why, oh why are they not properly dejected and dispirited? DON'T THEY READ THE NEW YORK TIMES?

Clearly, our education system has failed them.

If only someone - perhaps a real, bona fide war hero - could lead us out of these murky waters, lend some moral clarity to the debate on values in this country.


CWCID: Hooverville article, Ed Driscoll

Posted by Cassandra at April 2, 2008 06:06 AM

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The study parallels my experience. This age group is tired of the whining adults who epitomize the 60's generation of tune in, turn on, and drop out.

They are a pleasure to be around and have intelligent conversation with.

There is hope!

Posted by: vet66 at April 2, 2008 10:41 AM

It actually started with the GenX and GenY groups. Most of them are far more conservative than your average boomer. They despise hippies and the narcissistic "me" generation.

They correctly saw the societal and familial damage caused by their self-absorbed, spoiled elders. Children who grew up dealing with rampant divorce, absentee parents who were busy "doing their own thang", drug abuse, and role models like Bill Clinton. What happens to children who are raised by nothing but overgrown children? Somebody ultimately has to be the responsible one, and too often these were the children who had to grow up too fast. Do you think such a generation has any tolerance or inclination to follow the immaturity of their elders? They despise them instead for their weakness and selfishness.

This line of thought was brought home to me yesterday when I had to do some shopping at the mall. I saw a gaggle of women in their late 50's trying to look like 20-year olds going to a nightclub, and dressed very inappropriately for their ages. I was disgusted by their manner and dress. These women were stuck at a high-school level of maturity, despite their physical age.

My disgust changed to laughter when I saw a group of young teeny-bopper girls, with equal looks of disgust on their faces, yell at the older ones to "grow up". I nearly lost it at the shocked look on the older women's faces.

Boomers love to praise themselves for being the "deepest", most thoughtful, and altruistic generation ever to exist. The generations that follow dismiss them, and their destructive views, as narcissistic self-absorption. They will have to rebuild the society, families, and morality once the spoiled brats are done having their neverending house party.

Posted by: a former european at April 3, 2008 12:14 AM