Thursday, December 01, 2005

Our Generation: Lazy and Apathetic?

Often I think about how our generation (the so-called Echo Boom) will be remembered in history and what type of impact we will have on America in the coming years? Already certain people are labeling our generation as lazy and apathetic, a product of the digital and video game age. I am not quite sure what to think or to believe but it’s interesting to hear what our elders are telling us.

For instance, my uncle has said told me in the past that our generation does not have the work ethic and stamina due to its reliance on video games and TV for recreation rather than outdoor games and other physical activities. This quite possibly is true in that many of my roommates and friends would probably be much more physically active and educationally productive if Halo was still code for a ring of light, the name Madden drew sighs of annoyance, and Mario was synonymous with “pathetic R&B
crooner”. Yet this is not the reality for much of our generation, specifically men and the hours of virtual fun continue to stack up. Maybe men and for that matter woman will step away from the controller once kids start popping out and quite possibly engage more in conversation, exercise, and print but somehow I think this will not happen. Also, do video games, DVD’s, and TV shows keep us from working, staying in touch with the outside world, and being physically active? Our generation has also labeled politically apathetic by writer Matt Towery of Townhall.com. One of his comments:

As a whole, I think younger Americans are less passionate and focused on issues related to government, policy and other "hard news." Studies show that younger people are shying away from newspapers. They are instead getting word of national and world news as it flashes by on the margins of their Internet providers' home page, or when by chance, they channel surf past a cable or broadcast television news show.

He also speaks much further on how our generation is historically illiterate (read the article The Dividing Line). Do his comments hold significant weight however? Obviously here in Madison many students stay up with the news, are watching CNN, and understand the issues fairly well. However, do students and others our age really participate
and understand what’s going on currently in the US and world? I don’t know exactly because I choose to surround myself often with politically read individuals. I do know that few students read the newspapers and many would opt to watch John Stewart over Wolf Blitzer or Brit Hume. This leads me to believe that “yes” our generation is staying up on certain current events but few really understand the true political
issues well.

Another interesting perspective comes from Steve S of Letters in Bottles once said to me that “there are the 10% on each side of the aisle that really know the issues and there’s the rest of the populace”. Do most individuals our age understand what the privatization of Social Security means? Do they have clear policy explanations on why they hate President Bush other than he pollutes “the environment”, is too "religious”, or doesn’t like black people? Can they name their Congress representatives?

This isn’t a statement piece I guess but I am curious of others opinions. Are we lazy and are we apathetic (in general and comparatively to other generations)?


  • Yes, we are more lazy and apathetic than previous generations.

    And we are definitely historically illiterate - that, in my mind, is the root of the liberal supermajorities in most American universities. Most students act naively on their immediate feelings and the television shows they watch rather than tempering their stances on issues with a sense of what has come down to us as a collective wisdom accrued over the ages.

    Unless there's some other reason most of my peers here seem willing to throw out tradition and heritage at every chance possible, except on game day at Camp Randall.

    By Blogger Brad V, at 8:59 PM  

  • --For Brad:
    Do you think history would lead us towards a path of less government and a more bibilically based society? Why do you think students choose to ignore the past--and do you think the fairly liberal US educational system focuses on the negative things our country has done rather than the positive things?

    By Blogger Tim, at 12:58 AM  

  • I think a better sense of history would make us less hostile toward religion in society and a greater hostility toward excessive government.

    The educational system certainly focuses on critiques of American culture and history to a greater extent than on any sense of exceptionalism or American accomplishment. It also focuses largely on rebels or scoundrels in our history, rather than on builders and constructive individuals. It influences what we value both as individuals and a society.

    By Blogger Brad V, at 6:48 PM  

  • "I think a better sense of history would make us less hostile toward religion in society..."

    Come on, Brad! Religion has an embarrassing history of blatant irrationality. How would studying it more grant it any credibility in today’s discourse?

    By Blogger Mark Murphy, at 8:34 PM  

  • I'm not even advocating additional studying of religion. At least for
    Roman Catholicism, greater general historical awareness and familiarity would tend to create an empathy for organized religion, as an individual would have a better sense of where a religion was coming from and how it had resolved doctrinal conflicts through time to arrive at its tenets. This awareness presents a religion for what it is; the synthesis and sum of the wisdom and faith of individuals over time.

    Come on, Mark! Rationality has an embarassing history of being completely anthetical to the bulk of human experience. How would pulling it out of thin air or Ayn Rand's mind grant it any credibility in today's discourse?

    By Blogger Brad V, at 2:04 AM  

  • I got kicked off of the Daily Cardinal op/ed page for writing an article about this. heh.


    By Blogger Nitin, at 11:10 PM  

  • Excellent article Nitin. It's true, most students at UW instead of asking intellectually engaging questions or constructively criticizing ideas would rather simply spew rhetoric or be apathetic. Another strong point you made is that the intellectual discourse is much stronger on the regular blogosphere than on newspaper blogs/comments to the editor. It's too bad that good conversation is reserved for this small segment of campus and small segment of society in general.

    By Blogger Tim, at 10:49 PM  

  • I think it says a lot that our generation has less historical and cultural awareness than a lot of those preceding it.

    It is clearly a sign of apathy, especially given that our generation has the advantage of technology, which makes it EASIER in fact for us to educate ourselves. In an age where high school, and even, for most Americans, college, graduation is now a given, education has become a responsibility, not something to be sought, but something to be put up with.

    What excuse do we have to be less knowledgable of our country's history, or any other history we chose to (or not to) look into? None. When our parents' generation wanted to learn more, they had to go to the library and dig through shelves for books. Now, you can google just about anything, and follow a series of literally point and click links to see several perspectives and more resources.

    The majority of our generation is incredibly ignorant, and given the advantages available to us, I see no other explanatin than apathy.

    By Blogger BadgerZach, at 4:37 PM  

  • i do believe we are getting more lazy., but though part of it can be video games, i think it may be because of the looser drug laws than other generation have dealt with. I am one of the few people in my group of friends that does not do weed or drink, and i am the only one that seems to care about Bush and the sercurity of our future. When i brought up the State of the Union, some didnt even know what it was, and when i talk about Model UN, they call me gross for caring about such things. maybe it is just my friends but from what i have seen from other schools, most kids my age are potheads and that has effected their potential to be involved and proactived

    By Anonymous Marrissa Miles-Coccaro, at 10:41 PM  

  • Yes, my generation is more lazy and apathetic.
    As for religion and history, think:
    Oliver Cromwell- Protestant, killed many people, many historians complain that [paraphrased] 'little good came from his rule'
    Divine right- The basis on which kings ruled, either they were gods or they were thought of as being appointed as Gods
    The inquisition- Enough said

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:09 PM  

  • Lazy and apathetic? Absolutley! Illiterate? Most definately! Work ethic? Not an ounce!
    Who's responsible?
    Lazy, apathetic, illiterate and worthless parents. Parents who weren't taught to be parents, and children who have children.
    I'm 45. Did my parent's teach me anything of value or how to survive or let alone get ahead in this world? Hell no! Did they pay attention to my grades in school? Hell no! Did they encourage, or god forbid help me get a college education. F#@* no!
    It's not your fault your lazy and stupid; it is however your responsibility to change that! For yourselves and even more so for your children.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 PM  

  • To understand where our generation sits, we must enter into their world. Playing video games 24/7, watching tv 5 hours a day, doing no potential exercise, and chosing to do no right cause for a greater good. Their following and worshiping "the new zeitgeist," Technoligy. With new hightech technology at the tip of their fingers, they do not need to do shit for themselves. Resulting in their apathy, carelessness and laziness. Wake The Fuck Up! We can stop all this...but we all chose not to

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:44 PM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:03 PM  

  • yeah but still our generation can change ourselves we have hope and we also have good people and bad people together so I thin we can change ourselves

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 AM  

  • I hope this isn't a click bait article.

    It really sucks this generation only cares about playing COD maximizing blood/gore or Temple Run on their fart phones instead of being engaged with the world learning all they can at least about their own area if nothing else so they can vote local politics.

    If national politics are too hard fine then but at least learn about you're own area so you can make a difference!

    Fight the Korporate machine! (I spelled it that way to go against censors)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home