by Shane Morris
While driving through downtown Nashville yesterday, I happened upon an iconic statement of everything I understand to be true about the United States today. An elderly man in late model Buick was stopped at a red light next to a young white man with dreadlocks, driving a Toyota Prius. The elderly man’s bumper sticker boasted “Romney Ryan”, and the young man’s bumper sticker(s) were an amalgam of “Obama/Oil-is-bad/End-War/Etc”. (Let’s just be real here, the Toyota Prius trails only the Subaru Outback in overall bumper sticker supremacy.)
I’m part of a Generation called “The MTV Generation”, or “Generation Y” - which makes me feel sort of misunderstood by society. I’m certainly not defined by MTV. If there is one thing I truly detest, it’s the inane, banal and repulsive nature of shows like Jersey Shore.
I have been told in books and online editorials that my generation is detached, and we “don’t know what’s really going on”, because we’re stuck in our smartphones, and all we do is text, and we don’t understand life before Facebook, and we played too many video games, and we don’t remember the good old days, and blah blah fucking blah.
Perhaps I’m being a bit bold here, but I think the world is a better place because of technology. All this “newfangled” stuff doesn’t scare me, and it’s because I was fortunate to be part of a generation born into a technology boom. It is my belief that many older Americans are scared of technology, because they had to learn something new and massively complex in the middle of their adult lives. Some of these older people didn’t adapt, so rather than admitting they suck at using computers, they vilified the primary users - young people.
"What’s wrong with all these young people, with their crazy ideas? Why are they so opposed to fighting wars in the Middle East? Don’t you know there are Muslim terrorists over there just waiting for us to let our guard down and attack our good Christian nation? Did you know our President is a Muslim? Why do they want everyone to live a gay lifestyle? Don’t they know they’re making God really mad by allowing abortions to happen? Why won’t my grandson respond to any of my emails?"
(Related - Old People Using Technology: “FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD Obamas a gay muslum. Proof read it here.”)
This is the part of my narrative I say something completely politically incorrect and face immense backlash: America is going to be a great place, right after all the Baby Boomers kick the bucket.
America is divided right now into two clearly different ideologies about what our country is supposed to be, and I’m thankful for that. It makes me happy to know all these people voting for “1940 Version 2.0” America are going to get old and die soon.
When I think critically about history, I see the last 70 years of American history as a really bad thing. If you’re not getting lost in the overt racism and intolerance, you can always look at the endless state of war and the complete stagnation of our economy.
History shows us some pretty dark shadows the midst of all our historical highlights. While we were busy touting Americans walking on the moon, the majority of America was still opposed to black people walking in restaurants - so don’t toot your horn so hard, old people. America’s oldest generation is defined historically by intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia, just to name a few. (America’s greatest generation sure did use the n-word a lot, didn’t they?)
When I think about why my generation is so disenfranchised, it’s actually really easy to understand. Our parents and grandparents handed us the keys to a country in a sad state of disrepair.
We’re the only industrialized nation without a single-payer healthcare system, because we’re the only nation with a preponderance of selfish baby boomers with their healthcare paid for. (Must be nice.) Why do we have all these boomers? Because we were one of the few places on Earth not bombed out completely by World War II. While everyone else around the world was busy rebuilding, we got busy fucking. Baby boomers get Medicare at age 65, so it must be easy to vote against everyone else getting healthcare too, right? No wonder you were so against the imaginary “death panels” - boomers sort of deserve it, in light of their hypocrisy.
Moving on, let’s talk about war.
After doing some careful research on the internet, I discovered killing people is totally not cool, no matter how much oil, or how Muslim they might be. However, the mandate of my country seems to be shooting and killing everything not white and Christian. My country has been at war in the Middle East (with some short breaks), effectively since 1991. I think it’s safe to call the break between Iraq 1991 and Iraq 2000s an “intermission”. That’s what you call it when you start something, don’t finish it, and then go back later, correct? We kill so many innocent people in the Middle East, we have to take breaks to rest. Killing hundreds of thousands of free, innocent Islamic people is fucking exhausting.
Old people like the military, because it makes them feel safe from all those people Fox News tells them to be terrified of. Old people have a nostalgic view of the military, and like waving flags, and spewing catch-phrases like, “Freedom isn’t free!”
Yeah, no shit it isn’t free. It costs like $590 Billion a year. You know what else isn’t free? Healthcare. Funny how we’ve got an almost unlimited budget for exporting death, but preserving life is a crazy idea.
Do you know what else my generation inherited? Debt. My parents and grandparents saddled my generation with the costs of their unfunded, long-term healthcare and Social Security. I’m paying into Social Security right now, and it will be bankrupt before I ever get to use it. You want irony? Ask an old person why they’re against universal healthcare.
"Because why do I gotta pay for someone else?! You’re gonna take my money from me, and give it to someone else!"
Irony is me paying for your Social Security and Medicare. That’s you, taking my money, and keeping it for yourself, you fucking hypocrites.
Right now, I’m looking at $15 Trillion in national debt, along with another $60 Trillion or so in unfunded liabilities. You know, because the boomers had to buy shit. Who was going to pay for it? Their grandkids. Duh.
I wouldn’t have a problem paying back all that debt, but my generation also can’t get jobs, because we were handed a crippled economy. Before I could even vote, the establishments of Wall Street were already in place, put there by this thing that never happened called “Trickle Down Economics”.
We might be the first generation in a long time that doesn’t do better than our parents did. That used to be the American Dream - the nostalgic notion that you can work hard and give your children a better life. We don’t have a better life, because all those people at the top responsible for trickling down the money put American jobs overseas, because it made their businesses more profitable.
The poster child for “that fucking idea didn’t work” is running for President, and his name is Mitt Romney. He ran a company responsible for putting people out of work, and pocketing tens of millions of dollars. Mitt Romney represents everything my peers hate about America. Bain Capital was lead by Mitt Romney. He is the face of shutting down the middle class, and sending jobs overseas.
"I’d be a great President, because I ran a successful business." Yeah, Mitt Romney? Maybe that’s why we hate you so much. Perhaps, just perhaps, we don’t like you because we think big business happens the wrong way. Perhaps, just perhaps, we want business owners to act with some sort of moral compass, without blindly disregarding real American families. You know why? Because we have fancy internet connections, and we know what the corporate executives make, and it makes us sick to think people can feel good about buying corporate jets while they destroy American homes. Business is not good, Mr. Romney.
Do you know what else irks me about old people and their support of people like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney? They hate gay people, and women. That’s what is really happening, because that’s how they vote. I could honestly not give a flying fuck what comes out of their mouth, especially when it sounds like this…
"I’m not opposed to people living a gay lifestyle. I even know a few people living a gay lifestyle - but I believe marriage is between a man and a woman."
Here’s a translation of what that statement actually means…
"I grew up Christian, so I was indoctrinated into the belief that homosexuality is a choice, and God created a men and women to be married. I am willing to put my belief system above the civil rights and liberties of other people, because I’m a bigot."
Conversations get even better when they bring up things like “freedom of religion”, which isn’t what they mean at all. They want freedom from religion - specifically, anything that isn’t Christian. You can go just about anywhere in the south and find a church. Seriously. Drive a few miles, and you’ll pass at least a dozen.
Now try building an Islamic Mosque just 10 miles away from my apartment, right down the road in Murfreesboro, TN. You’ll deal with lawmakers saying you’re terrorists, arson, bomb threats, and other awesome Christian values. Building a church is no problem, but as soon as you start inviting brown people around, Tennessee has an issue.
I’m a rational, reasonable person. I think Islam is just as silly as every other religion that involves talking to imaginary friends, but you won’t find me phoning in bomb threats if someone wants to observe their religion in peace. That responsibility falls upon the good Christian people of Tennessee.
These are the same people vehemently opposed to gay marriage, and a woman’s right to choose. Why? Because if you’re willing to commit a felony in the name of defending your religious ideals (bomb threats, arson, etc), you’re probably willing to vote against the civil liberties of people trying to do something as crazy as… share retirement and healthcare benefits with a state-approved marriage.
I think I speak on behalf of everyone in “The MTV Generation” when I say this:
I’m tired of all the ideas that don’t work.
I’m upset because my peers fought and died in two wars for old, affluent people, only interested in controlling oil markets, in the name of making themselves richer.
I’m sad because I know my tax dollars are spent around the globe killing people who would have never hurt me, ever.
I’m sad because I know the difference between right and wrong, and killing for oil stability is wrong.
I’m angry because I was pushed through a flawed education system. I get upset when I see my peers exit college with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, and little hope for the future.
I’m infuriated, because my girlfriend’s sister can’t get married. Because she’s gay, and hateful bigots want to control her life from a place of fear in their hearts - rooted deep in Christianity. She can’t share her work benefits. She would have an extremely hard time adopting children, if she ever wanted to. Why? Because she loves other women.
I’m enraged when I learn creationism is being taught in public schools, with my tax dollars - a clear violation of the First Amendment.
I’m confused, because I don’t know why we’re even fighting a war on drugs anymore. Old, “Romney votes” are scared of marijuana, and want to institute mandatory minimum sentences on people who really just want to eat Cheetos.
I’m scared of prisons becoming a for-profit establishment. It upsets me that taking away people’s freedom isn’t just part of our penal system, it’s also profitable to lengthen sentences.
I’m irritated that stem-cell research, and potentially lifesaving medicine, is being controlled by religious idiots.
I’m fascinated with all the alternative energy options we have in front of us, and dismayed at how little we’re investing in them. I understand climate change is real, because science exists. I also understand that massive oil companies pay scientists to say it doesn’t exist, because they’re willing to profit at the expense of my future. Old people don’t care about the future because they won’t be there, but I do, because I have to live in the future, and so do my children - so fuck what they think about climate change.
This nation wasn’t supposed to be an “Us vs. Them” situation, but it has become that, because we’ve reached an impasse in ideology. “They” want to do things the way they’ve always been done, because they’re afraid of change.
I have faith in the future of America, because “Us” is an increasing number, and “Them” is a decreasing number. Our country is going to be great again, and it’s because of all these “crazy MTV kids always on their iPhones and texting”, because we can rapidly mobilize our movements now. We can use technology to save things important to us.
Soon, politicians like John Boehner and Paul Ryan won’t be around, because our power in numbers will keep them out of office. They won’t be able to promote their doctrine of hate - because that’s what they represent. They hate gay people, and women, and Islamic people, and minorities, and immigrants, and pot-smoking hippies, and liberal arts students with student loans, and poor people, and sick people, and disabled people, and pretty much anyone else not interested in trying to be Christian and white.
That’s not what we’re about anymore, because my generation is better than that. They call us the MTV Generation, but I prefer Generation Y - or better yet, “Generation, WHY?”
We’re the first generation in a very long time to ask an important question: Why?
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