I’ve seen the best minds of my generation blogging, digitized, engaged

This post started with this column from Neil Howe in the Washington Post.  Obviously he is mostly talking about the “early X-ers,” but it got me to thinking about what really makes us Millennials smart.  As Howe pointed out, the powers that be (our parents, teachers, policymakers) have placed a greater emphasis on our education, but I don’t think that sums it up.

Howe refers to the “daily jeremiads from baby boomers who wonder how kids who’d rather listen to Linkin Park and play ‘Grand Theft Auto III’ than solve equations or read books can possibly grow up to become leaders of the world’s superpower.”  Leaving aside the notion I have that the boomers likely preferred listening to Beatles records than solving equations, let’s examine Millennial entertainment.  I’m not a fan of Linkin Park and can’t speak to them, but other musicians embody this generation’s creativity.  Listening to KanYe West’s sampling, Regina Spektor’s complex rhythms under her poppy, folksy chick melodies, the Arcade Fire’s amalgamation of pop, prog, and acid sounds, we can hear the creativity.  But we aren’t satisfied with just listening.  We need to cut up our songs and splice them back together.  We need to set them to video (from our favorite TV shows, movies, cartoons, YouTube viral videos, whatever).  And we need to seek out these rehashings and remashings.

“Grand Theft Auto” is violent and offensive in its portrayals of humanity, but it also requires ingenuity to play successfully.  When our favorite show is set to be canceled, we are reluctant to sit back and watch it happen.  We blog, email, and petition.  We use games to create our own worlds, and we use IMs, texting, and visual art to create our own language.  And it’s not baby talk.  It’s not degraded language.  It is creative; it has its own inherent patterns.  We are loath to be passive viewers and readers.  We need to create our own stories, our own videos, to participate actively in our culture.  And when it’s time to pick a president, we find new outlets for that creativity.

Why are we, the Millennial Generation, so smart really?  We are incapable of passivity.  We are always acting, doing.

We are innovators.

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One Response to “I’ve seen the best minds of my generation blogging, digitized, engaged”

  1. Jason Says:

    I wonder if the difference is the access to a communication medium that allows this acting and innovation by individuals. I am not sure that previous generations (I apparently fall into the genX) are less creative or innovative, but the web as we know it today did not exist. There are far more visible outlets and the focus is on the web, allowing creative artistry to be seen and heard.

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