I’ve been finding myself talking about differences between generations. I remember being an eighteen year old and wanting not to go to ‘2.2ie Land’
2.2ie land was created by the previous generation of my parents. The creation of a suburban ‘idyll’. where people would live in their own houses, which were centrally heated with modern appliances. they had a personal life outside of work, comfortable steady jobs and 2.2 children (this being the average family size at the time.)
This dream for the most part was achieved. It was within such an environment that I grew up. It was a dream fulfilled. Mt grandparents generation lived a much more meagre existence, in cold damp houses, working in often appalling conditions down the pits. Where heating and disposable income were a luxury.
In a sense my parents generation tackled the problems they identified with the previous generation. So as an eighteen year old I was identifying what the problems, the failings of this model were. to not be part of the problem but to be part of the solution and make the world better.
My generation had a dilemma. We could either fight for improvements or give in to maintaining the system which seemed be pressuring us to join. To those who gave in, vast wealth was offered and a level of luxury beyond that of our parents. To those who chose to fight, simply were uncomfortable with the idea of working for corporations simply to make money and not help achieve anything, they wanted to do something useful. The big cause was the environment, it was clear that the economy was damaging the environment in an unsustainable way. The problems seemed to be getting worse: the corporations were becoming more powerful and influential, people had less time as their commutes to work become longer, house prices were rocketing and more food in the shops was coming from the other side of the world.
I like to think of myself as one of the fighters. However our generation faced theenormity of the task of saying that our parents had got it wrong, when actually they hadn’t, they simply hadn’t foreseen the enormity of the problems created by perpetuating a system that required revision. My generation also became distracted by the internet.
When i was eighteen I was at university. In the university there were computer rooms. In these rooms were PCs where you could type up your essays. These PCs were connected to the university mainframe and via telnet the internet, such as it was then. It was so thrilling to connect to servers and chat by text with students at universities in the US and other exotic locations. We found software to play chess with these people, it was amazing. A lot of the creative energy went on developing the internet. Perhaps I was stupid for not joining in as I didn’t want to sit at a keyboard all day (But of course I now sit at a keyboard for most of the day!).
My generation grew up with patiently waiting weeks for a trip to the city to visit the record shop and buy the new LP by our favourite band. Patiently sitting through the hour of ‘The Chart Show’ on TV, in the hope of hearing one or two songs we would like. The internet was my generations dream and it happened too.
To an extent we made it easier to circumvent corporate power by allowing access to small independent businesses, we stopped the rip off of CDs being £12 and only 67p going to the artist for example. But we failed to sort out the problems left by our parents generation as the internet created it’s own monsters.
Others in my generation did enter the corporate world, step by step compromising to achieve positions where change for the better could be made, only to find sustainable solutions weren’t ‘cost-effective’ enough. Was anything achieved?
So, what of the next generation. I read this today. Perhaps the vast library of resources that my generation built into the internet dream has caused it’s own problems. One of the reasons I didn’t want to become a computer geek is I know how absorbing it is, how you escape from the world into it. I remember wasting days playing silly games on my ZX Spectrum as a child, not really actively enjoying the process, but simply chewing the cud. However the internet has become so pervasive that losing a connection to it does stop your life; you can no longer manage your social life or obtain information. How much is the next generation losing the skills and spiritual enrichment of non-computer based activities. This is why i don’t own a Kindle and buy books, as I want to get away from a ruddy screen for a while. Where are they going to find the energy and resources to solve the problems of our world?