World War 3 is Within
The Millennial trenches are psychological.
Our great grandparents became the Greatest Generation because they had an enemy. They had the opportunity to overcome adversity to prove they were indeed great. Without the Nazis, our great grandparents’ generation would be called the New Dealers.
But they did defeat the Nazis, and at the risk of sounding like a politician, they were great.
Generation Y, however, never had this adversity. We grew up in a bubble of PC feel goodery that cushioned us from the monster of reality. As a Gen Yer, I received first-hand experience with this bubble. It gave us a participation award when we sucked at sports. When we were fat, it told us we were “big-boned.” It tells us we have depression when we’re sad. It tells us we have manic depression when we’re moody. It even invented ADHD when we couldn’t pay attention. And more Gen Yers have taken Xanax than have been snowboarding because, to us, emotions are more unmanageable than hurling down a mountain.
As we grew up and our problems inevitably broadened, the bubble broadened in step. When we cannot find a girlfriend, it tells us we’re too nice. When we cannot make money, it tells us we’re too noble. When we kill ourselves in car crashes, it claims we’re too good for this world.
Now, as the euphoria from a numbing culture wears off, we’re told we will never be tough because we never had to battle for anything. They may be right. I have it on good authority that Glee, the Gen Y bubble’s last stand, even suggests dodgeball is a form of bullying.
But in this wussiness we find our own battle. It’s not a battle to defeat an enemy in reality—it’s a battle to get in touch with reality.
When the Greatest Generation defeated the Nazis, their fundamental ideology wasn’t defeated. It reversed itself. Instead of prison camps telling inmates they’re worthless because of who they are, we have a culture that tells us we’re special for no better reason. Gen Y’s battle, our adversity, is the refusal to pass on this ideology to the next generation, just like our great grandparents refused to pass Hitler on to us.
This is World War III. We always knew that it was coming, we just didn’t know what form it would take. We thought maybe our battle with Islam was World War III. Afghanistan and Iran would suffocate themselves in dictatorship if we just left them alone. But if we remain disconnected from reality, we, as a cultural hegemony, could suffocate the world.
My generation’s fight is the fight to wake up. It’s to realize that we suck at sports because we’re soft; we’re fat because we eat Cheetos; we have ADHD because we don’t choose to focus; we’re moody because we don’t choose our thoughts; and we’re sad because we’re in bereavement for reality.
My generation needs to fight our Birkenstock-clad therapists. We need to fight our union-castrated teachers. We may even need to fight our parents, because unconditional love is the last thing someone needs who thinks the whole world should love them unconditionally.
My generation needs to fight to realize that we’re not born special. We were born a crying, pooping mess who was only useful as an impressionable toy for others. We need to fight to realize if we want to be special, then we need to make ourselves special.
My generation needs to fight to realize the Occupy movement, if it wasn’t an orgy of envy and self pity, would be protesting in front of the White House and the Capitol Building.
And my generation needs to fight every urge to blame false demons for our cultural bankruptcy. Kim Kardashian is famous because we yearn for her entitled life. Justin Bieber is The Monkees who sings his own songs. And Twilight is The Little Mermaid.
To win this war is simple, yet difficult. The simple part is looking in the mirror and stating the three words implied by free will: “I am responsible.” It’s melodramatic to say these words out loud, but when dodgeball is at stake, we cannot take any chances. The difficult part is meaning it, thereby coming to terms with the fact that our every whine, bitch, and moan is of our own doing. The shame lessens in intensity when we realize that bruising our self-image isn’t exactly storming Normandy.
Like any war, World War III will have its casualties. Some of us were told we were big boned too many times, so to accept fat as a pretense is too heartbreaking. These Gen Yers will just have to keep their problems to themselves so as not to infect others with the bubble. Previous generations called this pleasant conversation.
World War II was more egregious, but World War III is easier to ignore, which makes it insidious. If Gen Y isn’t quite ready to focus our lens of blame and criticism in on ourselves, we can at least turn off Glee and play a game of dodgeball—just as long as nobody gets a participation award.