Here are some observations I’ve made:
Beginning in the early 1990’s I noticed a change in the kids. To me, this was rather dramatic. In fact, it was so dramatic that I kept making this statement over and over again: “where did all these foreign kids come from?” It took me awhile to figure out that they were the younger generation. The problem is that they were so different that I thought they were foreign kids. What most startled me about it, though, is that I had only graduated from High School just some years before! How can there be a change that quickly, I wondered?
This change created a new “style” of people that I have never seen before and they had qualities that were new to me. One of the first senses that I got from them is this sense that they seemed to be living in something like a “shell” or what I called the “mantle” (see my article “Thoughts about “living under the mantle” – aspects of the recent generations“). This is like a big rock the younger generations live under. In other words, one of the first sense I got from them is a “sheltered life, detached from life”.
As the decades would pass, this would grow more and more. It seems, to me, that there has been very little change in the generations from that generation of about 1990 to today. That is to say, the past 25 years has seen what can be described as a “single generational era”. In other words, as a group, they have not seemed to of created a unique style that is unique to them and which they created. This shows that they are no longer in control of their “style” and have not created their own. This is because they live a “controlled” life, by technology, social media, and such. This prevents the development of their own unique “style”. In this way, the style of the generations seem almost stagnant. If there is any change its usually not them who did it . . . its usually a change in the times, technology, or some new gadget.
This is very different from the previous generations. From at least WWI to 1990 we have seen each decade, at least, create its own unique “style” that set it apart from the decade before and after. This happened so frequently, in fact, that it actually created problems as trends and fads changed too rapidly. As a result, people would find that the era they most relate to quickly passed away which made them disconnected with the current times. The generations since 1990 does not appear to have this problem as there has practically been no change in “style” in the past quarter of a century! In this way, they have become somewhat stagnant as a group. I should point out that, in the past quarter of a century, there have been changes, of course, but these have been rather mild and seem to reflect historical conditions that have happened during that time and not actual changes in the actual generations themselves. In other words, the younger generation, themselves, didn’t create these changes.
I speak of these generations as the ‘post cold war generations’, as they appeared after the cold war ended (about 1990). I believe that this is no mistake for the traits of this generation were molded by the ending of the cold war, as I’ll describe below.
Over the years a number I have found myself giving the ‘post cold war generations’ a number of nicknames. This tendency, I think, reflects some character traits that seem common with them, such as:
- They seem a “mass” of people, all alike or similar.
- They lack an “individuality”.
Because of this, they tend to have an overall general quality about them. Its this overall general quality that I refer to with the nicknames. Its like saying, “oh, they are like this or that”. In other words, the nicknames are much like a description. Because of this, they tend to reflect certain aspect or qualities that seem prevalent with them from time to time.
These nicknames refer to their robotic-like nature and tendency to follow blindly:
- The drone generations
- The robot generations
- The sheep generations
- The assembly line generations
- The “appendage” generations
These nicknames refer to their protected nature (that is, that they are as if living in a shell):
- The mantle generations
- The “spoonfed” generations (this really refers to how things like technology and schooling tends to give them their experiences and ideas without them having to do much . . . for example, they are “spoonfed experiences from the computer game” or “spoonfed information a school”)
These nicknames refer to how they are as if a medium for nationalistic feelings:
- The show pony generations
- The indoctrinated generations
- The outdated generations
- The disconnected generations
- The misled generations
- The “brainwashed” generations
These nicknames refer to how they seem lacking in some way:
- The dud generations
- The generations without “style”
- The “next-step” generations (that is, they don’t create anything new, they just take the “next logical step”)
These nicknames refer to how the males have been degraded:
- The suppressed generations
- The castrated generation
All these, I think, are revealing observations about their general character and are in response to their behavior. Over the years, though, I most commonly refer to these generations as the “drone generations”, the “show pony generations”, the “indoctrinated generations”, the “dud generations”, or the “castrated generations” depending on the circumstances, as these classifications seem to display specific dominant qualities in these generations . . .
THE “SHOW PONY”
I believe a significant element in these generation is that it is post cold war. One effect of the cold war is that it has caused very strong nationalistic feelings in the adults. This would be felt very strongly after the ending of the cold war and the feeling that we had “won”. In fact, one could say that the ‘post cold war generations’ have largely been influenced by the feelings of cold war victory by their parents. My observation, though, is that few people are consciously aware of these feelings or how they have imposed them onto their children (I’ve never heard anyone refer to it, for example). Despite this, the children would become an “avenue” for these nationalistic feelings. Basically, the parents, and society, would use the children as a medium to express their ideals which glorify their nationalistic ideals and as a means to glorify America. In effect, they ended up forcing their kids to follow their ideals. This would end up having great impact and, in a way, define these generations.
Interestingly, this same thing was done after WWII with the “baby boomer generation”, at least to some extent. In this way, it almost appears like a post war reaction. I first began to really realize the extent of how kids were avenues for their parents ideals when I watched this talk show which had a short segment showing a 4 year old girl. She was in a classroom with a chalkboard behind her. She even had big distinct glasses on her. She would sit there and say things like a teacher, “did you know that Siberia is so and so many square miles?” and such. After the segment ended, the host of the talk show said, “can you believe it? . . . she’s only 4 years old!” I was so outraged by this I just about complained to the producers. I wanted to say, “All you’re doing is turning the kids into show ponies to portray your ideals. Anyone can see she was coached in all this.” And there is where I first used the words “show pony”. I began to realize that the parents were basically doing the same thing with their kids as shown in the talk show. Basically, the parents turned their kids into show ponies, as a means to glorify their ideals (in this case, the ideal of education and knowledge).
Over the years, I have been appalled how parents, many of which are from my generation, have treated their kids. They treat their kids almost like objects. They have done this a number of ways, such as:
- As something to “train” much like a dog. This has appeared under the guise of many forms, from “teaching values” to forcing kids to go to College or play in sports. Education is particularly bad. All this “training” of the kids is really nothing but to make them play the part of the “generation who emulate the greatness of America”.
- By overvaluing them, usually without cause. They assign them all these abilities and skills that most don’t have. The so-called “millenial’s” are often treated this way. I’ve even heard them spoken of as the “next great generation”, even though they haven’t done anything. In fact, I’ve seen many books glorifying the younger generations before they’ve even done anything. I recall one book claiming that “millenial’s” will teach us (meaning the stupid older generations) to develop a better society and social relations. Another book claimed how the younger American females were so “great” that they will “change the world”. Another described how great the “millenial’s” are, all so educated, successful, and wonderfully great people always wanting to emulate the national ideals, of course. None of these, of course, has even come close to happening . . . its basically amounts to the parents glorifying their kids as a way to glorify themselves and America. This overvaluing of the kids is also seen in all the awards they give them. I’ve seen some kids get awards every time they turn around. I even made a joke: “if they can add one and one and get two they give them an award”. I saw an article, written by a “millennial”, who had a picture of all the awards he had received in school (filled up a table!) and in which he said that he found it was all a waste and having no value in life. Remember, its the parents glorifying themselves and America with their award-winning kid.
In the end, all this is done as a means of the glorification of American ideals as a result of the end of the cold war. The children have become the means to portray and demonstrate national ideals, to make their parents proud. Because of this, this glorification of the younger generations tends to emphasize American values. In other words, by forcing their kids to be a certain way they were as if saying “America is great . . . look at our kids”. Some of these American values, that tend to be emphasized, include:
- The emphasis on achievement. These include things like sports, schooling, accomplishing things.
- The emphasis on schooling, education, and knowing things.
- The emphasis on jobs and making money.
- The emphasis on peace and saving the world. This is really a remnant of the influence of the ‘hippi movement’ of the 1970’s, of “peace and love”. It often appears with the emphasis on being “green”, for example.
Overall, the emphasis on schooling is particularly prevalent with these generations, almost to the point of nausea (and something I tend to condemn). It seems particularly prevalent for a number of reasons:
- It reflects America’s worship of knowledge and education. In this way, it becomes one of the great means to display American’s greatness.
- The school system promotes it, as all kids have to go through schooling. Through schooling the ideals of the parents would be passed to the school system, as the school system tries to take on the role of a parent to the kids. As a result, the school system would continue the work of the parents and promote the glorification of American values. No doubt, because kids spend so much time in the school system, nowadays, the school systems emphasis on schooling makes education and knowledge more marked for these generations instead of other things.
- Schooling became important as it leads to other ideals (achievement, money), and can have direct obvious results of other ideals (fancy job, money). In this way, the glorification of schooling would become particularly strong with the ‘post cold war generations. Success at a job, especially, is one of the great glories of America.
This overemphasis on schooling and jobs has gotten so ridiculous that kids, at a young age, are having these things shoved down their throats. Near where I live there is a grade school that had a sign on it that said, “college bound!” Can you believe it? This emphasis went into getting a job. Recently, I heard of a grade school that had a “career day”. Are you kidding? Its because of things like these that I jokingly call grade schools “pre-college schools” . . . kids go to grade school to prepare for college and get a job. Maybe, one day, they can get college credit in their second grade pre-calculus class? Maybe they can start teaching business in kindergarten? Stuff like this appalls me.
If often seems, to me, that kids are treated, by their parents and society, much like a “consumer product” that is “designed” to “satisfy”. This, I guess, is not that surprising as the parents generations are some of the first to be exposed to extensive consumerism. It makes sense that this “consumer orientation” would pass onto their kids . . . consumer products please so the kids must please. Children must be “cultivated”, like a garden, to be the way the adults want, huh?
I was often appalled by this “show pony” tendency as many of the parents are greatly emphasizing a conformism after the cold war, which conflicts with their views when they were younger. When they were their kids age, they were rebelling against such “control” . . . but their kids aren’t allowed to! Its sort of hypocritical. There seems a number of reasons for this:
- One element of this tendency of conformism, I often thought, is the fact that the parents generations have no culture, no beliefs, with a dead materialistic view on life. This wasn’t helped by their rebellious attitude. When they became parents they found themselves without direction and authority. As a result, they fell back on a conformist attitude because they had no other means of authority and it gave them a direction.
- I’ve also suspected that the parents tendency to turn their kids into show ponies may reflect their own poor view of themselves. Their kids doing “good things” compensates for their “bad” view of themselves.
Interestingly, many of the ‘post cold war generations’ have even begun to believe what they are told about how great they are. That is to say, many believe that they are “great” and often display an arrogance and an excessive self-importance. Its as if their parents glorifying them has gotten to their heads. Oftentimes, this is a reaction to doing exactly what the system wants (such as going to college or getting a hi paying job). The fact that they “did it” makes them great.
THE “INDOCTRINATED” AND “BRAINWASHED”
The ‘post cold war generations’ would have a lot of cold war perspectives, mentalities, and views imposed upon them by the older generations. Since many of these originate from the cold war, and the condition of the cold war, the promoting of these points of view as if “kept the cold war alive”. In fact, this has gone to such an extent that one could very well say that the ‘post cold war generations’ are more “cold warish” than their parents who lived during the cold war. In this way, these generations have been “indoctrinated” to cold war mentality even though the cold war is over and the conditions of the cold war, which created these points of view, are gone. The effect of this is to impose upon the younger generations a number of things such as:
- A false world image of what the world is.
- A tendency to interpret the world incorrectly or in a biased way.
These are some of the things that keeps these generations somewhat detached and alienated from the “real world situation”. In some sense, they are being “indoctrinated” into a fantasized world. This makes it so that these generations often seem “out of touch” with things.
Much of these points of view originate from the Vietnam War protests of about 1970 as well as the ‘hippi movement’. In fact, if one looks closely one can see that many points of views are basically repeating this era’s point of view and interpreting things in the same way. More than once have I almost said to them, “my God, we’re not in the 70’s anymore!” With some of them, its almost like they are trying to “go back to the 70’s” in attitude, world view, and in the interpretation of everything. I guess its no surprise that this point of view dominates most of these generations political viewpoints, especially.
Some common traits of the thinking of the 70’s era are:
- Fear and paranoia. This is the base of the whole mentality . . . the fear of nuclear annihilation in a world war with the Soviet Union. As a result, fear and paranoia tends to seep into many aspects of life and their views of life. There is a tendency for them to become frightened of things too easily. They also become paranoid about things at the drop of a hat.
- A preoccupation with hate. They tend to see hate where there isn’t any and assume its everywhere. Typically, they become frightened with any form of hate and blow it out of proportion, whether its real or imagined. This preoccupation over hate originates from things like the Nazi’s and the Civil Rights Movement.
- The overuse or, rather, abuse of the principles of freedom and the U.S. Constitution. They quote freedom and the Constitution like quoting the Bible and as if they are its only representatives. Using the Constitution, they often say things such as that everything “violates their rights”, “enslaves them”, and such. Its got to the point that one could say that just about everything is unConstitutional. They also tend to think that their views of freedom and the Constitution are the only ones.
- They think they are trying to save the world. Much of this has to do with the ‘hippi movement’ where this was their belief. This often develops a self-righteous attitude.
These are used as a basis and framework of a whole world view. As I said above, these are not naturally appearing but, rather, something that has been imposed by them by the older generations and society. Not only that, they reflect another time and era. In this way, much of these generations “think” they represent the current times but they are actually reflecting the times 40 years ago! In this way, much of their beliefs were outdated before they even started.
One effect of this is that it makes these generations somewhat disconnected with the times and situation. Its a weird form of disconnectedness though. They think they are connected but they really aren’t. This appears to be caused by the fact that they are the “indoctrinated” and the “show ponies” of the nation (and parents). Because of this they have been misled into thinking that they are great representatives of the nation and times. Some even think that they are at the pinnacle of it all! But they have all been misled into thinking this. It somewhat resembles what happened in the 1930’s with the Nazi’s. There many Germans were misled into thinking of not only their greatness but that their views of things was correct. It was almost like a national “brainwashing”. This, it seems to me, is similar to what is happening with these recent generations.
The tendency of conformism tended to cause a machine-like quality in these generations, a drone-like attitude. This can be described as a tendency of “blind following”. I’ve often been stunned how these generations just “do what they’re told” almost mindlessly. One good effect of this, though, is that they don’t create a lot of problems. Several things have always scared me with this “drone” mentality:
- None of them questions anything. They just blindly “follow along” (be a drone). Not only that, I’ve often been stunned how these generations believe everything they are told. In fact, I’ve often said that this is one of the “signs” of the younger generations. In other words, “if you believe everything your told then you must be from the younger generation”. One effect of this is that they tend to lack a common sense in life.
- There is a complete lack of a sense that “something is missing in life”. In other words, there seems a lack of “interior reflection”, of “listening to your gut” or “following your heart”. Its like they have given up their life to social media and computer games.
The main drone stance tends to be things like these:
- They do what they’re told
- They follow what everyone else is doing
- They follow the ideal
The net result is an almost sheepish robot-like mentality with qualities such as:
- A mindlessness
- A slavishness and blind following
- A lack of growth and personhood
- A lack of genuiness and originality
In another respect, what we are seeing are generations of kids that are basically being “programmed” to reflect the societies ideals. Much of education, it seems to me, is part of this “programming”. In some respects, to be educated means to be “programmed” not only to do your job but to reflect the societies ideals. It seems a number of things have led to this “drone” tendency including things like these:
- The influence of technology – a person “follows” whatever it does, creating a slavish-like attitude.
- The power of the social media – it dictates peoples lives.
- Being nothing but a “show pony” who do nothing but what they are supposed to
- The emphasis on schooling – the ‘hear and repeat scholar’. schooling is nothing but an assembly line they should have the kids come out on conveyor belts
- The emphasis on work by parents and society (see my article ” Thoughts on an aspect of the youth of today . . . the creation of “the machines of the economy”“)
This drone-like quality, it seems to me, is also promoted by things that are lacking such as:
- A lack of social structure
- A lack of culture
- A lack of belief
- A lack of human realities and institutions
The lack of these, which is so prevalent in modern society, seem to create a “void” in peoples lives. The quality of being a “drone” seems to feel this void. In this way, the “drone” creates something like a “pseudo-society” to as if replace the dying human society. This is because being a “drone” mentality offers solutions to the void in ways such as:
- It gives the illusion of purpose and meaning (such as computer games giving you something to do that is fun)
- It gives the illusion of human institutions (such as Facebook being equivalent to a family)
My observation is that these have the quality of an aspirin . . . they help temporarily. Because it works, for a time, it creates an illusionary quality that everything is OK. In short, being a “drone” has the quality of a “security blanket”. In this way, many people are not all that willing to let that “security blanket” go. Because of this, many people become dependent and addicted to the “drone” life. When it reaches this point we could probably call the “drone” life a “disease”.
Personally, I think a “drone” attitude and lifestyle is a form of dehumanization and a degraded life. Ironically, though, being a drone has become the avenue of success for these generations. The more of a drone you are the more you get ahead. This is because this system does not need human beings, it needs human robots. A drone is a human robot, basically. In addition, the more of a drone you are the more socially accepted you become. This is because there are so many drones out there.
It seems, to me, that being a “show pony” and a “drone” turned much of these generations into something like a “dud”. This is because these conditions basically made them into something more like an “appendage” to something than a human being. They have to as if attach themselves to something in order to “be someone”. As a result, they cannot really become human beings and develop much of a self. This is further emphasized by the prevalence of imitation. These generations, in many ways, have become nothing but generations of imitators. Life has become one big act of imitation, of trend, of information, of learning, of following the path computers lead you, etc. In addition, much of these generations are as if “spoonfed”. What I mean by this is that all the gadgets of technology tends to “hand” them things like experiences, information, friendships, etc. In this way, they sit there passive while they are given, in a sense, a “phony life” in which they don’t really participate. Their association with life is through some medium, some object, not themselves. In this way, they are not directly participating in life. This inhibits the growth of self. As a result, it causes things like these:
- A lack of creativity
- A lack of innovation
- Having little energy (apathetic)
- A lack of initiative
- A lack of discipline
- An absence of self
- A lack of originality and genuineness
- A lack a “style” (this is because they are an appendage to the system)
- They primarily maintain the continuation of existing things and conditions (there is a lack of advancement)
- A false view of themselves and the world (remember that they are show ponies who have spent a life having their minds stuffed with information)
- A blind following attitude
- A disconnected quality
These, it seems to me, are very prevalent at this time.
Many years ago we used to say that young people offer energy, innovation, and such. Often, companies wanted younger people for this reason. It seems to me that this era is over. The younger generation does not seem to offer this anymore . . . at least, I’ve not seen it. I’ve also talked to people who have felt similar things. Being a “dud” has taken these qualities away, it seems.
The post cold war generations I’ve seen at work tend to have these qualities:
- They seem to have a blank expression.
- They seem as if their mind is somewhere else.
- They are not social. Many will not speak to you and are hard to get in a conversation with.
- They don’t offer anything but do what their told.
- They don’t create anything new.
- They seem stagnant and dead-like.
- They are overly preoccupied with their phones, social media, toys, and such . . . everything else takes a “back seat”.
In short, the legendary energy, innovation, and vitality of the young people seem absent! To me, this paints a picture of a bunch of people who are as if “sitting there looking at this massive system hanging over their head and which has power over them and which they are helpless against”. In other words, they have become subservient to the system . . . they are not in control of their lives but they look to the system to give them their lives. This subservience to the system even appears in their conversations. In many cases, their conversations consists of nothing but repeating things they had heard almost like a tape recorder. I had a weird experience with one of the younger generation that is quite revealing. I was walking and a guy noticed that I had “Freud Museum London” shirt on. He started talking to me about psychoanalysis and Jung. What was weird about his conversation is how he spoke. He seemed to do nothing but recite facts that he knew. I’d say this or that and he’d remember some detail he had heard about something similar and recite it to me. He didn’t even put forth any effort to make it fit the conversation and it generally was out-of-context, often having nothing to do with what I was speaking about. It was like saying, “bacteria are small cells” and then he goes on about some fancy detail (no doubt to impress) like “E. coli means Escherichia coli . . .” that has nothing to do with what I was talking about. I found this type of disconnected conversation very common with these later generations. No doubt it has origin in how they have to sit for hours in class listening to information, having to remember it, and recite it on a test (and, remember, if they recite it properly on a test they get and A . . . special emphasis to repeat and recite). In this way, this style of disconnected conversation is a product of the schooling environment. Its so common that I thought it would be funny if they wore a t-shirt that says, “I am the younger generation” and then, below it, the buttons for an old cassette tape recorder with the letters for each button prominent, “rewind”, “record”, “play”, “ffwd”, “stop”, “eject”. For much of the post cold war generations, this comparison is very accurate . . . they are basically playing the role of a human tape recorder.
From my observation, the main benefit of the younger generations are:
- They know how to use all the gadgets. they are a generation absorbed in gadgets. though this may have a use in some respects, on the large scale of things it makes them almost useless.
- The are a drones. They do what they are told. In this age where everything is a system, they benefit from this.
These, as near as I can tell, are their primary strengths . . . not energy, innovation, creativity, and such as we saw in the previous generations.
The male has been particularly suppressed in the post cold war generations. I tend to feel that this has a lot to do with the association of the White Male, in particular, with the problems of the modern world, especially war (see my article “Thoughts on the unique association between the White Male and the modern world, as well as some of its effects“). To put it simply, the male has been “blamed” for it all. This point of view began in the Vietnam War protests of about 1970 and is therefore based in a male/war association. This would later be extended to any problems of the modern world, such as environmental damage, political problems. etc. The basic thought is that because the male is supposed to be the cause of it all the solution is his suppression and castration. Its a point of view that is not overtly stated but its logic is seen if one looks for it. Females, in particular, seem to promote this point of view.
The castration of these generations is really a result of the effect described in the “indoctrinated” above, which has enforced the points of view of the Vietnam War era onto the post cold war generations. Part of these points of view, as described above, is the blaming of the male. In this way, we see can see that this is nothing but another “return to the 1970’s” mentality, which is so common in these generations, and part of their “indoctrination” to the values of the hippi’s (peace and love).
As a result of this, the male, and male characteristics, have been suppressed creating something like a “castrated” male. Some of the qualities of this male include:
- They are apathetic.
- They look down.
- They are not active
- They are passive-like.
- They have little ambition.
In this way, its created a docile passive male that “does nothing”. The effect of this is that many males no longer participate in society any more or play a role (see my article “Thoughts on “failing” boys and males “dropping out”: “the male exodus” . . . another account of the fight against dehumanization???“). In some sense, they have “vanished”. This has gone on so extensively that one could say that there has developed a “male vacuum”. In other words, where the male used to be there now appears a void, which has created a vacuum and the result is that other people (in particular, females and minorities) are clamering to fill the void. One could almost say that the “male vacuum” has created a great movement of everyone else to fill the void.
But the male remains castrated and suppressed, forgotten and neglected, in the very society and system he created. This castrated has become so ingrained in the post cold war generation male that I, at this time, have no hope that he will do something to end it.
I often feel, though, that this condition of being castrated and suppressed may cause a rebellion in the males in the future (see my article “Thoughts on the unique association between the White Male and the modern world, as well as some of its effects“). Whether anything like this happens or not I cannot say.
THE ‘POST COLD WAR GENERATIONS’ AND THE FEMALE
It appears that females are, by far, the ones that have most emulated the “drone”, “show pony”, and “indoctrinated” generations attitude. In fact, the female has done it abit too well. Many females are having problems as a result. On could very well say that the female has become the great representative of these qualities on an incredible scale. Much of this, I feel, has origin in things like:
- A naturally appearing slavish-like attitude that females have.
- The fall of the female identity which makes them more “in need” of something.
- Of how social media sucks them in and they follow it religiously.
Stuff like these tend to make the female more prone to the ways of the ‘post cold war generations’.
AN OVERALL IMPRESSION
Overall, these generations seem to largely be nothing but a product of the times (the cold war, technology, social media, etc.). In other words, these generations are not a “product of themselves”, of something they created and which reflects them. In this way, the times have completely overshadowed them and, in a sense, squashed them. It has dominated them, dictated their lives, determined what they do, how they think, how they behave, how they view things and themselves. Very little has been an expression of “them” as people, which has been characteristic of the generation throughout most of the 1900’s. I’ve talked to many adults about the younger generation and practically everyone has said something to this effect: “I’m glad I’m not part of this generation”. Most of this, of course, is because of the control things have over them, such as technology.
Sadly, very few of the younger generation are aware of the dominance and power things have over them which makes the older generations say that. I’ve even talked to several of the younger generation about it and all they do is give you a blank expression . . . truly, they live under the ‘mantle’, the shell of the modern world.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen