Teenagers didn’t exist until the 1950’s. I’m sure those rebellious years of mood swings and bad skin have been around since the dawn of time but they never got much attention until the 1950’s. Those post-war American baby boomers had the privilege of both time and money and they exploited it in every way possible. Armed with after-school jobs, they had money to burn and time on their hands. In fact, those youths had enough economic power to drive sales in any direction they pleased. The world was at the fingertips of the young and so things like Woodstock, Beatlemania, fast cars, big advertising, civil rights, sexual liberation, political assassinations and a trip to the moon were all dragged into the world.
Of course, what goes up must come down, and here we are in 2015 with a crisis on our hands. The information age has given us the opportunity to learn absolutely anything which ultimately means we learn absolutely nothing. Our scope is too wide and our memories feeble; I can’t list one phone number by heart unless I learnt it pre-iPhone era. There are terrorist attacks, wars, bombings, murders and corruption going on at a level that may not be any higher than the past but because every single one of these events are coming up on our 24 hour newsfeed we can’t escape it. Unless, that is, we turn our attention to the fantasy world of E! Entertainment and Perez Hilton. We are veracious readers of frivolous celebrity scandals and trivial fluff. As a result, people’s private information, photographs, voice messages and conversations are being leaked to the world at a second’s notice. Orwell’s 1984 is coming true and we’re, predictably, ignoring all the warnings.
We desperately seek the meaning of life through inspirational messages on Pinterest and Instagram while social networks turn us into anti-social creatures, too self aware to deal with a filter-less world. We’re spoilt and defiantly ignorant, angry at all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons and knowingly becoming more vulnerable to anyone who would care to take advantage. The majority of us can name at least one celebrity love-triangle or wardrobe malfunction but few of us can intelligently discuss recent politics. Why? Because it’s easier and we, the spoilt generation, are all about our comforts.
In 1950 the first remote control, aptly named “Lazy Bones” was invented and some say it is the most dangerous invention ever made; instant gratification at the push of a button was made possible and as a result, in 2015 I am somewhat disappointed if my flight doesn’t have on board wi-fi. Words cannot truly describe how troubling that is. Yes, ambition and drive are all very admirable but if all we’re driving towards is quicker access to more comfort, then does it really count? We have never in the course of human history had so much time to delve into so much information with such ease and yet all I do with my days off is binge-watch Netflix….not even good Netflix.
So what are we to do? Perhaps we could learn a number, take our earphones out, read a book, watch one high quality film for every trashy rom-com and have a proper chat with someone without checking our phones. Above all though, I would suggest traveling. Travel to a place where your 4G doesn’t work and don’t spend your time searching for a Starbucks. Talk to people without the luxury of a remote control, TV or Netflix and notice how perfectly happy they are. Money won’t buy you happiness, your world won’t fall apart if you turn your phone off and you’ll make more friends offline than on. All I can take out of my ridiculously privileged quarter-life crisis is that experiences will make you feel worthy of tasks thrown in your direction. The most unsuspecting people can teach and test you and with the likes of Skyscanner there’s really no excuse not to go! Live somewhere different, travel somewhere far away and work for your gratification. Then, as it is 2015, Instagram it to your hearts content.
– Sinann Fetherston