Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Generation Obnoxious, Entitled, Helpless

Throughout my trip to London, I was always frustrated by the behavior of a lot of the people who were on the trip with me. However, as I started breaking away from the group and traveling on my own, and even as I got back home, I came to the sad realization, that it isn't a couple of brats on my trip, it's a generation-wide epidemic.

I don't really know at what point proper conduct and behavior deteriorated, but it has. I remember as my grade was coming up through the public school system, teachers were shocked and appalled by the slew of behavioral issues they were forced to address. We were quickly dubbed the worst grade the school had seen. And it only got worse when the next few years came up behind us.

I look around today, and I realize something very sad: we haven't gotten any better. We haven't grown up. We're in our 20's now, and we're still the obnoxious, bratty, entitled, irresponsible, helpless behavioral disasters we were back in school. We are loud, and we are rude, and we think the world revolves around us.

When I was in London, a lot of the people I was with would just walk up to people on the street, interrupt their conversations, and ask for directions without so much as an "Excuse me", "Please", or "Thank you". On a train ride back from Oxford, there was a group of people who looked to be about my age spread out along one side of the train car who spent the entire trip shouting over people to their friends across the car. This kind of behavior just shows such a disregard for the people around you, like your conversation and well-being is more important than theirs.

I have no problem calling out the next set of behavioral disasters specifically by school, because I think their high-and-mighty demeanor deserves to be taken down a peg. Now, I thought the behavior of MY classmates left a lot to be desired. However, we were NOTHING compared to the group of students who came in towards the end of our trip from NYU. Rude doesn't even begin to cover it. Within the first 2 days of them being there, all of the common areas had been trashed. Every single table in the cafe and lounge area was covered with trash, from empty McDonald's bags and wrappers to cans of beer and bottles of wine, and every other sort of food garbage you could imagine. I could not believe how poorly they treated the space, and how they have absolutely NO respect for the rest of us that they had to share the space with. I was so disgusted.

Now I know this doesn't apply to all of us, all of the time, but I think if you look around at your peers, you'll see the people I'm talking about.

There's also this overwhelming sense of entitlement. We act like we deserve to have everything given to us. I think this goes hand in hand with viewing our well-being as more important than anyone else's. And I'll say something here that is something I know I struggle with - we don't have any sort of automatic respect for authority. I will call out a professor on their mistakes or botch-ups regardless of the fact that they are an authority figure - if they have not earned my respect, I will not give it to them. The most recent example is a professor I have who yells, snaps, and claps at us as if we were dogs needing to be trained. I do not respect her, despite the fact that I am supposed to because she's my professor.

We're struck by this cloud of apathy that seems to hover over us at all times. For many of us, we haven't ever had to fight for anything, or believe in anything, or strive for anything, because there's nothing for us to fight for or believe in or strive for. The fact that the world is at war means so little to so many of us, because it's such a distant threat that on a good day, we can forget about it, if we're not there. We seem to have so little passion.

And yet, at the end of the day, I can almost start to feel bad for us. I look at the problems my generation is inheriting, and I almost don't blame people for acting out. Many of us are going to graduate college with a huge amount of debt already, and be thrust into a job market that is floundering. We aren't being adequately prepared for life, and so we're being thrown out into the world, helpless, and now with bad manners and poor attitudes on top of everything else. We're getting screwed over by governments, and the mistakes of generations before us that are leaving us in more and more debt, and with more things we are responsible to fix. But does that excuse our behavior? I don't think so.

What do you think of the generation that you are a part of? Does it embarrass you to be a part of your generation, or are you proud of them? Do you wish you had grown up in a different generation? How do you think you would be different if you had?


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