The generational blues

Hanna BleauBy Hannah Bleau |

I may be a 60-year-old woman in a 20-year-old’s body. I am an avid coffee drinker and almost always in my pajamas by 6 p.m. Sometimes, I read for fun. I never miss my favorite shows on talk radio, and frequently make hot chocolate chip cookies for my sisters just for fun. Seriously, being a grandma is pretty great.

While I have the tendencies of an elderly woman, my younger self takes a visit now and then, and it often bothers me. Sometimes, it makes me cringe. I wake up, and there it is. Surf social media. There it is. Walk down the street. There it is. I can’t seem to escape it. Maybe it’s because I’m grouped in the stereotype. Allow me to go back into granny mode to talk about my generational blues.

Every generation strives to be better off than the last. History shows it typically works out that way, but my generation is phenomenally different than the rest. Our generation is growing up in a culture of self-obsession. Selfies are a regular thing. Social status is all the craze. All gym pictures must be uploaded to instagram so everyone can see your “athleticism” or “work in progress biceps.” Having a significant other is an absolute must, and if you don’t by the time you’re 13, something is obviously wrong with you.

The condition is worse than it appears. The only thing worse than a self-obsessed generation is one that also carries utopian ideals along with it. My generation is very idealistic. While it’s safe to say that almost everyone has soft spots for orphans, widows and handicapped people, my generation leaves it there. Political opinions are guided by feelings and emotions rather than substance and reason.

The “End it Movement” really got me thinking about this. “Shining a light on slavery” is great. I don’t personally know of anyone who is rooting against the cause. But my generation has been brought up to think that if they set aside a few days a year to draw a red “X” on their hand, they’re changing the world. One of the posts on my Facebook news feed said, “Let’s be bold.” Writing a status on facebook and drawing an “X” doesn’t change a thing.

Really. What sacrifice does that require? That takes literally no effort, time or money. Sending nice thoughts? That’s comforting.

While I have no doubt these people are to some extent sincere, it reflects the self-absorbed nature of the generation. We want to look like we’re doing something so we’ll look like good people. We’re brought up to think that buying a Kony 2012 T-shirt will change the nature of warlords in Africa. Let’s be honest. We just wanted a t-shirt to look like we cared. Really, how many of us are guilty of thinking we were changing the world, one profile picture at a time?

It seems as though my generation only chooses issues that suits it well. There’s not much deep-seeded thought in what we seem to choose. College students would rather read about the struggles of an interracial lesbian couple than the economic crises or the next billion dollar-spending bill.

My generation is responsible for idolizing Hollywood stars like Beyonce who regularly sing about being racy and in the same breath profess to be a renowned feminist. Talk about a walking contradiction.

My generation is responsible for electing the first black president of the United States, yet will complain about “racial injustice” running rampant in America.

Passion erupts for gay rights, marijuana usage and contraception, but anything that has to do with the sanctity of God and country is ignored or labeled as intolerant. My generation is obsessed with looking compassionate.

While no generation has been perfect, there’s something admirable about grandparents and parents. For one thing, they had thick skin. Let’s face it. Kids today are total wussies.

Previous generations appreciated the small things. Family time was sacred. Today, children will bash their parents on their own social media accounts without them ever knowing. We’ve lost the element of respect for our elders.

Past generations worked hard. Trust me, I even argued this one. I mean, I work and go to college — I work hard! But this doesn’t even begin to compare with the struggles our grandparents and parents went through. For many of us, our parents can help us. Past generations didn’t have that luxury.

Past generations really valued freedom. American politics was something deemed as important. Kids learned about the greats of American history. Today, most kids graduate high school without knowing anything about the founding fathers and the Constitution, but are well-versed in “gender and sexuality studies.”

So this isn’t entirely our fault. We’re products of society.

We’re products of a society that encourages us to put our self-identity in a significant other. We’re products of a society that tells us to differentiate ourselves from the crowd by a new piercing or tattoo.

We’re products of a secularist world where the Hollywood elite tells us what’s cool to believe, magazines tell us how to look, and CNN tells us what to think. It’s our fault because we’re stupid enough to believe it.

I don’t want to be another stereotype. I’m not saying the “End it Movement” is bad. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy that t-shirt that sends some profits over to help orphans in Africa. I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand up for your passions, but we need to pick and choose our battles. We need to put on a different lens and really decide what’s important to us and what we’re going to do about it. We shouldn’t base our decisions on how good it will look on a selfie. Being cool isn’t all it’s made out to be. Society is pretty ugly.

I want to put the focus back on God, family and country. I believe that’s a divine ordering, and I want to look back when I really am a grandma and say, “yes, I have a generation to be proud of.”

I have faith in my generation. I haven’t given up yet. I think good can come out of all of this if we can see through the smoke and mirrors of popularity, Hollywood and Washington elites. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to bake cookies, take midday naps, and go for long walks in my orthopedic shoes.  (Ok, just kidding about the last one. I’m 60, not 90.)



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