Eli Pariser recently spoke at TED about how social media, search sites and other online entities are creating “filter bubbles” that remove opposing views from users results. As a Generation X (born 1961-1981) I agree that this is worrisome, but I wonder if Millennial (born 1982-2004) will agree. The Millennial generation is much more willing to participate in group-think and less worried about individualism. Eli’s first quote is from a famous Millennial: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
While it may concern Gen X’ers (and Boomer (born 1943-1960)) that people might tend to polarize around ideals, that fits right in with what the Millennials are all about: picking an ideal for the group and sticking with it. After all, isn’t that what they were taught by Barney for all those early years?
A few years ago I read Alain de Botton‘s “Status Anxiety“. I found de Botton’s writing to be fascinating, but difficult. He is a well-educated Swiss Gen X’er (born 1961-1981) and many of his references were to literature I was not familiar with. Even so, it was clear that he had thought long and hard about the nature of status in our society, and he had done so from a uniquely Gen X viewpoint.
I just came upon this wonderful talk that Alain gave at TED this year:
I particularly like his take at the very end of the talk about what makes a good father. He talks about the need for fathers (and father/heroic figures) in society to be “tough but kind”. His description fits with the view of many Gen X fathers I know: they don’t want the permissiveness of their parent’s generation (Silents, born 1924-1942 and Boomers, born 1943-1960), but also want to avoid the strict disciplinarian attitude of earlier generations. Is this possible? I don’t know, but that seems to be the ideal that Generation X strives for.
de Botton’s take on the nature of success bears a strong resemblance to that of another Gen X TEDster: Elizabeth Gilbert. Her talk about the nature of creativity contained many similar ideas about where success is truly derived. I see a Gen X philosophy being discussed more regularly, with a much more balanced and positive take now that we are reaching middle age. Perhaps it is time for older generations (Boomers in particular) to listen to what the individualistic Gen X’ers have to say about the direction of society. Just because we are cynical does not mean we don’t have any ideals.
Gen X’erElizabeth Gilbert best known for her book, “Eat, Pray, Love” has a unique take on the nature of creativity. Her perspective, to me, is very Gen X in that it looks at the practical implications of creative fame and how to manage it. It inspired me to think differently about where creative genius really comes from.