Generational Vanity

Each wave of humanity is united by general qualities which distinguish it from the generation before and the one after. The uniqueness of each individual isn’t denied, as a range of colours always exists in every domain in nature. One generation is enormously influenced by the technologies of the time. The internet, let alone other technologies of modern days, has coloured generations X and Y in ways that alarmingly contrast them from the generations their parents and grandparents belong to. Fresh, new, trends in morality also run parallel to the shifts and impact caused by disruptive technologies. By generalizing sweeps of factors and influences, one generation can truly be placed in a single bucket and referenced in isolation.

As with the boons and contributing skills which a new generation brings to the scene of society, there also come more or less permanent features which can have a negative influence on how they perceive the world. As is true with individuals, belief systems can skew and distort, filter and arrange how situations are seen, and colour them in a particularly limited way. Each generation invariably places judgments on the generations which preceded it and, most certainly, the ones which follow. It is very easy to take notice how our parents’ generation, for example, can point out flaws in ours by claiming nostalgic virtues which had existed in the past and no longer seem (to them) to be as present in modern life as it once was. Blame is typically placed on the ‘new’ and current generation, as if they are the cause of problems which had hitherto never existed. This is an example of an illusion each preceding generation has when they find themselves stuck in a time bubble, isolated in a period of time controlled by a generation they do not belong to or understand.

One of the interesting qualities which seems to hold invariably true from one generation to the next, is a group vanity which exists among them. Often there are environmental, political or socio-economic conditions which are highlighted as the challenges of the time. Subsets of the population split off and form microcultures which fight injustices, protect the rights of those less fortunate and fend off trends which appear to be harming the population or even the planet itself. What is often forgotten by the generation in question is how every preceding wave of humanity had its own story and how the themes were approached with equally righteous attitudes and postures. A subset of the population, for example, always believes the world is facing impending disaster and that their generation is solely responsible for saving the day. It is as if humanity, at any given moment in time, is found running on a trendmill with the same pictures in front of it. It is a form of insanity when observed in retrospect.

The real point of contention here is that a generation, just like an individual, can benefit from suspending to the best of its abilities the filters and bubbles which frame its perspective on reality. Affording themselves with suspicion towards how they see the world and their place in it, they may be able to limit the generational vanities which skew their understanding of the situation at hand. They may as a result understand with greater ease that the next generation is a creature of contemporary times and that their mode of thinking, feeling and being is evermore at risk of being outdated to current conditions.

One response to “Generational Vanity

  1. Eloquently stated Amir. We’re a dead-end generation. And unless we find a way of inculcating values that’s better than *child rearing*, we’re a dead-end culture too.
    Noa

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