Boy how the times keep rolling

March 23, 2009

“Back in my day, we learned things the old-fashioned way……through hard work, family obligation and responsibility. Now, you kiddies receive everything…you just lay out your golden hand and whine ‘I want, I need, I gotta have.’ You youngsters wander around aimlessly with your eyes pasted to the screen of those gadgets with white strings dangling from your ears ignoring the world. I used my own money back then and admired my self-reliant image. Wow, how the times have changed. Now when I was a young boy…….”

Eventually the story grows old and most of us, being part of Generation Y, zone out the wise words of our grandfather’s redundant story. A story that proves trite, hackneyed and overused by the time we reach our teenage years. Many, and I mean many times, I have listened to my parents and grandparents lecture about the importance of earning material processions and becoming a responsible “young adult,” but eventually the topic of conversation becomes monotonous and I gratefully run off to my room to enjoy my basic necessities- my cell phone, iPod and laptop.

Generation Y, Generation Me, Generation DotNet, “Generation Speed” according to Seventeen Magazine, represents today’s teenagers It is our label, what some history books will dub us as. Really, several of us should be branded Generation Spoiled, Generation “I Want That” or Generation “Spend- All- My- Parents’- Money- and –Become- Bankrupt- When- I- Live- on- My- Own”. I feel proud and accomplished to be part of this generation, one that is described by using more than a handful of derogative words from the dictionary. Really, a true accomplishment.
Being a 90’s baby, I have grown up with flat screen TV’s, portable CD players which later turned into the trendy, chic rainbow of iPods and a cell phone in my pocket ever since my 13th birthday. Many teenagers are just as lucky. Most students receive cars instead of cake, Coach instead of cards.
I have to admit, I didn’t pay for my phone, iPod, laptop, designer purses, new shoes, new car or for about 90% of what resides in my very bedroom. And this fact alone doesn’t make me proud. I may be tagged as part of the splurgy, splashy, pretentious group on Facebook, along with about 1 million others.
It seems like we take. We beg. We want. We whine. We ask. We get.
With the slipping economy and with new products, such as the latest cell phone ads popping up on computer screens, the easy answer to getting what teenagers want, but parents won’t succumb to, seems to lie in the work force. Most teenagers need jobs. However, according to an article from the New York Times
“ Teenage participation in the national labor force has fallen steadily since 1979, when 49% of all 16- and – 17- year olds had some kind of work, [in 2007] the figure was 30 percent.” The irony remains in the hands of Generation Y. We crave new clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch and demand the latest version of “Call of Duty”, but we still lack the money to afford everything our heart desires. Generation Y’s sweetest downfall might be the mall.
Most teenagers don’t want to be characterized as greedy, devouring brats…..yet more than a few continue to act accordingly. Soon our laptops will need updating, our clothes tethered and antiquated. Eventually the shoe won’t fit the foot and the songs will ramble on in our heads. The flashy, radiant dress will lurk in the back of the closet, the video game collecting dust under the bed. Most will just beg for more. My point is plain and simple. Life for teenagers today revolves around material possessions, the au- courant trends and asking for whatever and receiving it. Disco died in the 80’s and so did responsibility and hard work. The 70’s reward equals today’s necessity.
Change. Obama’s slogan. What needs to happen amongst teenagers. Most of you probably haven’t met my friend. I despise my friend for working hard for his cell phone, feeding his appetite on electronics with money that comes straight from his black- no- designer –wallet. When I asked him if he wanted a new one he said “No mine’s fine.” Designer or not, it doesn’t matter. I despise him for being the model, the hero, the anti-Generation Y. Basically, I despise him for radiating the characteristics that I wish I possessed. He knows that if he wants something, he needs to work for it. My friend should plaster his face amongst the “Generation-Y Needs to Change” posters, because a lot of teenagers today do need to change.
We need to prove to our parents that we appreciate what they give us. We need to let our batteries of our iPod’s die, turn off our cell phones and prove to those who stereotype us as money leeches, wrong. We need to illustrate to our Grandparents that we understand the definition of hard work. Don’t chant to the world Madonna’s “Material Girl/ Boy”; instead recite Donna Summer’s “She/He Works Hard for the Money”.
Yes we can.

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