Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Thoughtful Millennial

I think this blog is finally taking shape and direction, and despite the levity of its more recent content, I would like to formally introduce a new conception of its purpose. I am renaming it The Thoughtful Millennial in this spirit.

I am part of the generation/demographic group known as Millennials. Much has been said and theorized about my generation, its current impact on social and economic trends, and its relevance for the future of America and the world. Most of what has been said about us has been written, spoken, and propagated by the older generation, the Baby Boomers, and their immediate successors. 

I would like to give voice to the Millennial generation itself, but not in a political, self-aggrandizing, pushy, or self-seeking way, but in the spirit of self-examination. The maxim "Know Thyself, and To Thyself Be True" is timeless, and the opportunity for reflection about our generation's shaping of society at large--the society that is and will be our own and our children's--as well as its existential meaning for who we are both individually and collectively is invaluable. 

I would like to make clear that in my sociological, psychological, and cultural inquiry I do not seek to promote any agenda, support any organization, boost any political party, or further any particular cause. My hope is to penetrate into the hearts and minds of my generation, and see what lies beneath the surface. The question of who we are and how we are evolving is at the center of our inquiry. If I am provocative, it is not to denigrate an opposing point of view, but rather to incite discussion and debate. I hope that this site becomes a forum for this kind sharing of ideas and polemics! 

It might be argued by some that Millennials are lazy, self-absorbed, technology-obsessed, ego maniacs. The advent of social media has made possible the opportunity to flaunt one's narcissism writ large. Indeed, psychologists have found scientific evidence that narcissistic tendencies are increasing rather alarmingly in concert with the use of social media (It turns out the number of selfies one posts on his or her Facebook page is an excellent empirical predictor of narcissism manifesting in other contexts, and it appears to be rising considerably in the overall population.).

I'm not going to be some old-fart, wet blanket and say that the advent of social media heralds the demise of Western Civilization. All I'm saying is: people post too many pictures of what they had for breakfast, folks flaunt too many gorgeous vacation photos that make their friends stuck at work feel jealous and under-privileged, and please for the love of all that's Holy STOP with the stupid cat videos! There is enough stupidity on the Internet for it to be multiplied exponentially in people's News Feeds.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people who use social media in an responsible, thought-provoking, and socially beneficial way. But they are in the minority. I suppose what I would like to say is: use it, but don't abuse it.

I was recently having a conversation with a friend at a bar about the topic of Millennials. He was a #GenerationXer or something. What he said intrigued me:

"They feel powerful, because they can tweet something and people will listen to them and it will be everywhere. They'll be on the news. When they have a bad day, they post about it on their twitter feed and receive instant sympathy. When we had a bad day, we just opened a can of soda... or whatever.

Don't try and out-Tweet them; Don't try and out-Facebook them, because YOU CAN'T WIN! You just can't do it, so don't even try...

They have the power... It's scary."

Now Millennials have harnessed and mastered the power behind social media, but how are they using it?

Idiotic Facebook and Twitter posters may seem ubiquitous, but they are more like a few clouds that block out the Sun. There are true gems hidden in the detritus of social media; you just need to know where to look. I admit am a relative novice at "mining" for these diamonds of intelligent commentary, wit, and creativity. If anyone has any recommendations of good Twitter feeds, sites or blogs, please pass them along! (trevorswett@gmail.com, or leave a comment) Of course the blogs of great famous magazines and periodicals provide content well worth exploring that is easy to find and navigate; I am interested in finding the hidden corners of the Net where individuals are making vital and sometimes unnoticed contributions!   

The new purpose of this blog will be to examine not only the cultural minutia of music, film, and literature, but also to investigate the psychology and habits of the Millennial generation through a self-conscious and self-examining lens. What do we have to offer and how are we contributing? Where are we falling short and how can we do better? And, in a word, what is our culture to become?

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