Saturday, October 3, 2009
Mid-Career Mike, this ain't rocket science:
We're talking about the iGeneration here (though perhaps the "ME Generation" would be more apt). These students have had every desire instantly gratified since they could toddle (you think the Baby Boomers were bad? You ain't seen nothin' yet).
Thanks to the internet, they've never had to go to the library and get a book to find information for a report (heck, thanks to "Copy" and "Paste," they probably never even had to write the report). Thanks to iPods, they've never had to flip through radio stations to find music they like, or even listen to a complete album of songs. Thanks to more readily available (and more effectively employed) birth control, many of them have never had to share with or tolerate a sibling. Thanks to an increase in two-income families, they've never had to scrimp, save, sacrifice, or... god forbid... get a job.
Then they get to college, where professors might actually notice that their essay is copied from Wikipedia (since they foolishly left the url on the title page). College, where professors might have the audacity to make them sit in one place and focus their complete attention on a lecture for an entire hour... without iPods, cellphones, and other electronic devices. College, where for the first time in their lives, they have to share their living space with someone else... someone who is just as self-centered, inconsiderate, and spoiled as they are.
They have no perks to soften these harsh blows. The twin joys of sex and alcohol, once the two great panaceas of undergrads, have lost their sparkle; They started binge drinking at 14, and they have been so overexposed to highly sexualized media that they have either became completely jaded, or exhausted the entire scope of sexual possibilities before their senior prom (there are only so many postures the human body can assume during intercourse, after all). The so-called "independence" of college life is nothing special to them; their parents have been letting them run wild since they were old enough to drive (if not before).
This is a generation that was raised on shows like "My Super Sweet Sixteen," where rich, spoiled brats are allowed to indulge in decadence that exceeds even the usual bottomless depths of their hedonism. When their own experience fails to lavish such meretricious celebrations of self-indulgence, they become despondent. When it becomes apparent, after taking their first real academic class in years (taught by instructors who, shielded by both distance and tenure, can easily deflect and/or resist the pressure of the browbeating parents who have paved their way through middle and high school) that they will have to exert themselves to succeed, they become bitter. And when they realize that after this, they're going to have to get a job, one in which they will have to work with (maybe even for) people they don't like, performing tasks that they don't enjoy...
...well, that's when those of us who are older and wiser can drink deeply of their sweet, sweet tears