Generation Y

Generation Y has problems.

Generation Y cannot find a job. Generation Y cannot break in. Generation Y has discovered that cash is the key to every door. Generation Y feels pressured to “make it” but cannot endure the rat race. Generation Y is starting to realize that it shouldn’t try to “make it”. Generation Y has seen the man behind the curtain. Generation Y knows that it has been brainwashed by advertising and mass culture. Generation Y has been co-opted anyway. Generation Y cannot break out.

Generation Y feels empty.

Generation Y has been taught what to think but not how to think. Generation Y has been told to memorize answers but not to ask questions. Generation Y has not been told how to live. Generation Y is trying to learn. Generation Y wants something new but can’t find it. Generation Y rejects old methods but can’t escape them. Generation Y is tired of consumerism but continues to consume. Generation Y has seen the nihilism at the end of modernism.

Generation Y feels empty.

Generation Y feels like no one has its back. Generation Y has no role models. Generation Y does not know what stability looks like. Generation Y acts out. Generation Y has addictions that it cannot control. Generation Y wants to feel secure. Generation Y has been depressed before. Generation Y has had breakdowns before. Generation Y takes medications that do not solve its problems. Generation Y is lonely but cannot connect. Generation Y is a shaken soda bottle. Generation Y needs a friend.

Still Eating Oranges

Modern isolation

It’s nearly a cliché to say that the modern condition is characterized by inescapable loneliness. Many people feel trapped inside themselves; and they see in others a fundamental separation and unknowability. Interaction with the outside world is ultimately prison-like, negotiated via telephone and glass partition. In the 20th century, this sense of alienation was expressed by numerous cultural movements, ranging from the Lost Generation to the punks. Self-destructive living and even suicide were not uncommon to these groups, and both inclinations continue to grow in the similar countercultures of today.

Yet, why is this the modern condition? Have we ever been different? Surprisingly, the answer is “yes”. In the pre-modern West, people felt connected to the natural world and to other humans. Identity was porous rather than buffered, in the words of philosopher and historian Charles Taylor. A blurry line—if that—separated the “inside” from the “outside”. Certain parts of the world still cling to this porous notion of self, particularly in those countries where Buddhistic, Taoic and Vedantic ideas remain embedded. So, what caused the West to change? Why was the lonely, isolated modernist born? The answer begins in the Middle Ages.

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“Please pale hot, please cover rose, please acre in the red stranger, please butter all the beefsteak with regular feel faces.”
"SALAD DRESSING AND AN ARTICHOKE.", taken from Tender Buttons: objects, food, rooms (1914) by Gertrude Stein.