November 27, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 50  

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Internet Geek generation?

Maybe this Pete Townsend fellow was on to something.
No, not the child pornography — we mean his take on his generation with The Who’s “My Generation.” While nobody really tries to put us down because we get around, we still feel apart from our grandparents, parents and younger siblings. What makes us unique?

Of course, defining any generation is difficult if you’re a part of it. A logical question of our generation — especially given our penchant for “meh” attitudes — would be: “why bother to define ourselves?” The answer seems to lie in the word itself. Define, from definite: having a beginning and an end.

Some might say our generation hasn’t had time to find an identity for itself because life is simply moving too fast. Others have even gone so far as to dub us the “Stress Generation.” While stress clearly existed before our time — see “Cold War” — naysayers may be on to something. At what other time in history have six-year-olds been worried about their future?

In a North American context, perhaps we are the “Education Generation.” No matter how high you rise, it seems the ultimate answer lies in further schooling. Parents, employers and teachers alike tell students to keep pushing and keep advancing — to never be satisfied. Yet this answer begs another question: when will the stress stop? We’re continually working towards the seemingly bright future, but when will that future arrive?

Maybe the empty dreams can be traced to our parents, who raised children while wild-eyed from the materialistic dreams of the 1980s (or the cocaine rife throughout the decade). Many parents simply hope their children will advance to a higher station in life than they themselves attained. For, as Da Vinci said, “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.”

The ’80s also seem to be a haven for a growing number of university students. However, the way we look at the ’80s now is certainly different than the way Don Johnson wannabes did. Retro music is remembered fondly as being catchy instead of over-commercialized. Retro fashion is seen as unique instead of simply god-awful. In other words, stealing another generation’s identity seems problematic.

If one was to name only one thing to define our generation, it’s likely that technology would be near the top of everyone’s list. Face-to-face conversations fell victim to the telephone long ago, but for our generation instant messaging programs like MSN or ICQ are the order of the day. “Chatting” is so rampant that people separated by only a few feet in residence often take pleasure in conversing over the Internet. Somewhere, Al Gore is smiling (he invented the Internet, remember?).

If we are indeed the Internet Geek generation, so be it — it’s only a matter of time before we’re all seniors and we start to download in our pants.



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