On contemporary culture

It is hard to know what to think of contemporary culture. I know I am an old foggy, and that the current generation has left me behind, but am I really that much of a fifth wheel? The kids today can handle computers as easily as they handle breathing. They can’t write a full sentence without breaking thirty-three grammars rules, but the can text like the wind–150 words a minute, or at least they call them words. I won’t give them any points for originality, but they are persistent and fast. Creatively, they are stunted, and are often surprised when one their own comes up with a great idea, only to find that someone else already did it fifty years ago. Originality is not their strong suite. Today’s generation is pretty much addicted to cell phones, ignorant of Vietnam and Watergate, willing to spend megabucks on coffee and sandwiches, and are convinced of their own importance, which means they are just like we were thirty years ago. I have never lived under the illusion that I am either important or original. The sixties, Flower Power, ecology, Vietnam, the Domino Theory, the space race, hippies, the Manson murders, several assassinations, and Watergate burst my innocence bubble, and left me foundering in the fetid waters of the Disco era, Studio 54, platform shoes, bell bottoms and big hair. I think that contemporary society is stuck on itself, obsessed with consumerism, and buying everything, ignorant of most politics, addicted to digitally mediated communication, isolated and afraid, sleep deprived, malnourished, and impatient. I think that we live in a nation of gluttons who want their next super-sized meal now and are totally unprepared to either wait or compromise. They don’t want fast food; they want instant food, and they wouldn’t know how to cook it if they had to. There fix for instant communication has taught them to be impatient and nervous, like junkies waiting for their next fix. I think the current generation eats too much, and eats out too often, unwilling to learn to cook or to buy food that needs preparation, and the only exercise they get is walking from the car to the table in the restaurant. Yes, I am cynical about the current generation, and many of my generalizations are exaggeration that are untrue and unkind. Yet the rise of big box retailers, which put the little guys out of business because they cannot compete, is also another sign of the times, and although I see nothing ominous in the big box retailer per se, I do think those places have become a part of the national landscape and are now a part of our national past-time and our identity: we go to those places to have fun shopping. Contemporary culture shops to have fun, but I’m not sure that is either healthy or sustainable. Again, I pass judgment on an activity for which I don’t care. I would be nostalgic and say that the past was somehow better or more ideal, but I know that is also untrue, but I feel the current society drifting on a tide of consumerism that is directionless and pointless. All most people do is fill up their garage with a lot of junk they don’t need, but they aren’t happier, or richer, or better off than they were before. The current season, the Christmas season, always seems to drag out my worst thoughts about how superficial and facile our culture has become, unwilling to discuss its direction or the black hole it has become. Christmas carols have become horrible caricatures of the wonderful hymns and songs of my youth only because people want to sell more junk. Perhaps that is the key, our contemporary culture has become a desolate landscape of detritus, flotsam and jetsam, because it’s all junk. Now I’m beginning to wonder if I drinking too much coffee.