The Millennial Existentialist anti-Movement
What is the socio-cultural ‘movement’ of our generation? What defines us? I recently came to the conclusion that the current cultural zeitgeist is defined by the affinity of ‘not doing anything’ (see political impotence, reality TV…). As a millennial, I feel like I live in a paradox, a constant duality between action and passiveness.
On one hand, an existentialist, nihilist ‘do nothing’ kinda futile vibe. Sometimes I see the daily protest in the news or politicians speaking “for the young people” and I think about how socialism and the left are actually the real opium of the people, making us believe we have power over ourselves and are capable of making a real difference in the world. However… if everyone’s making a difference, isn’t that just the new norm? It’s like when punk became mainstream in the 80s. How punk was that? The Ramones were cool, but they were not starting any revolution as far as I’m concerned. Bollocks. ‘Nothing is real’ and ‘nothing’s gonna change my world’ I say. Normcore, right? This effect has even extended to the media and art we consume; in reality TV and YouTube, where the key to success lies in the candidness and the ‘realness’ of the content. With the phoniness that social media brings, we are drawn to entertainment and art that shows the contrary. The art of ‘doing nothing’ and being attracted to something just because of its aesthetic or personality has thus certainly made a comeback. Hence, the ‘movement’ that defines our generation is, funnily enough, not a movement, but rather a lack of one.
On the other hand, I am inevitably (perhaps because of my young age) a firm believer in change, and, deep down, I have faith in a generational revolt. I sort of get an urge, of wanting to speak up, and lead and fight. I take a look at all of the work there is still to do and I am strangely glad for the challenge that comes upon us. I think I romanticise it a bit. This inner turmoil that spreads to the rest of the society, like a sort of Blur/Oasis pseudo-classist conflict all over again.
And maybe that’s the problem with this generation. (What a cliché phrase right? Funny we’re always looking for “the problem”…) we have so much to be angry about because there’s so much we are aware of now (mostly not due to self-motivation or interest); we have so much change to promote, and we are constantly being told the revolutions we have to take part in, what we lack. Yeah perhaps we could do it, but we are baffled. And torn. The impotence, the lack of time, the fear that we will commit the same errors as those before (let’s be real: everyone in the older generations who were taking part in social revolutions, where are they now? When did they stop being cool/caring? When did they think it was a good time to stop fighting? When they actually had to get a job?) We’ll never (have to) fight as hard as they did, and if we ever did, we wouldn’t look as cool and glorified as they did. Also, if we did it, there’d be no turning back to the ‘key years in our lives’; we’d be missing education, training and job experience opportunities that might be actually helpful in our futures (or not).
Ah, the older generations.
Are they trying to make us into their own little revolutionary copies? Always told we “don’t know what hard work is”. Well, no. Perhaps I don’t know it in the way you did. But that’s because the world has changed, right? YOU made it change. Why are we being regressed into the times of “hard work” and fewer rights and expected to go through their same struggles? Jealousy? Because we have it “easier”? It seems to me they have brought ‘the future’ and are not content with it, like they got bored of it now.
And so this split in schools of thought present in the millennial minds leaves us immobile. We already have a certain degree of comfort in this stationary state, so we’re not that bothered about being torn too much anyways.
My friend David and I call it the ‘millennial existentialist movement’. Except it’s not a movement-because to follow it, you must do nothing. Confirm to the inevitable to revolt against the baby boomers, who apparently gained every right we are now enjoying. Should we stop time and change? Or would they like it to stay in the world they shaped? See? A constant duality.