Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Generations thing

Must have been on TV somewhere, I guess. Then again, maybe in real life. I just can't remember where exactly, but I see these two guys, slicked-back hair, collared shirts, and thick , black Buddy Holly glasses. I say to myself that we're back in the 50s.

We are really, aren't we? Nothing's changed. The world's a place to make money, and most kids are straight arrows. Would have been impossible for my generation to run around with Bible-quoting t-shirts; today, kids' closets are full of them. What's with this generation, anyway?

It's easy, even fun, to discriminate by generation. You know, my father-in-law remembers the Depression; he's a WWII vet and part of "the greatest generation." I'm one of a gadzillion aging boomers, people with bell-bottoms tucked away in their closets. My daughter's a GenXer, big on volunteerism and mission trips and sweetsie parenting. 

Then come "the millennials" with their multitudinous computer screens, far more multi-racial, far less brand loyal (churches call them the "nones"), and, so marketers claim, a whole raft of young people generally immune to advertising. They're so off the charts that they've got wholly different dreams: they don't even want a nice house in a suburb with a dog and riding lawn mower. Construction--home construction--across the nation is down dramatically, not because of whatever's left of "the financial crisis," but because the number of first-time buyers has dropped from fifty to thirty per cent.

What's wrong with that generation anyway? Weirdos.

But now a writer by the name of saucy name of Rebecca Onion claims that all such categorizing is just plain nuts, largely inaccurate, and downright lazy-- or, as she says it, "infuriating," "overly schematised" and "ridiculously reductive."

Dang it. I like to think generationally. I really do.

I'd never heard this one before, but Ms. Onion (can't really say that without tearing up) claims that theorists named Strauss and Howe derived their own categorizations to summarize what they claim is a reoccurring cycle in human history.
In the Strauss-Howe schema, these distinct groups of archetypes follow each other throughout history thus: ‘prophets’ are born near the end of a ‘crisis’; ‘nomads’ are born during an ‘awakening’; ‘heroes’ are born after an ‘awakening’, during an ‘unravelling’; and ‘artists’ are born after an ‘unravelling’, during a ‘crisis’.
Wow. Love it. Don't know yourself? Get out the chart and figure out where you are with respect to some lollapaloozin' cultural "crisis," then simply embrace your anthropologically created identity, your archetype. It all makes sense and unloads tons of mystery from the human character. Now I know why I like road trips--I'm a nomad. I've always had a hankering to chase buffalo.

Bull, says Ms. Onion, a millennial herself. She spits at the caricature that phony labels saddle her with or, for that matter, any of us: "Generational thinking is seductive, and for some of us it confirms our preconceived prejudices, but it’s fatally flawed as a mode of understanding the world. Real life is not science fiction." 


But can  you trust any researcher named Onion?  Besides, she's a millennial. You know them.

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