Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 17, 2013

VINCENT DAVIS: X? Y? Call us 'Generation Tough'

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Listen-do you hear it? It’s the sound of a million spam emails making it past your ‘spam proof’ web filter. 

In the time it takes you to read this sentence I will have missed no fewer than 3 reminders on my phone that will go unchecked because when I setup those alarms I didn’t have time to add any notes clarifying what they were for. It can feel like in a world with Google, Siri, Mr. Movifone, etc. … 21st century Americans aren’t living up to the expected level of suffering our ancestors went through via the Great Depression, Dust Bowl and various war-rationing campaigns, so we are forced to look inward and make our lives terrible all on our own.

The people of two or more generations back lived through a lot of crazy things and as a result they are classified by various crazy names, The Boomers, The Beat Generation, and the nebulous “Greatest Generation.” These people lived through wars back when the main method of battle was men facing off with rifles and living in trenches, a war across the ocean meant you better cut down on how much tin you’re using in Cleveland because we needed all of it for simple aircraft that might crash before they ever get to the battlefield. They were the first to grow their hair long and wear jeans, or whatever.

I’m not knocking World War II or saying the 50’s or 60’s were overrated, but did people of those eras clearly believe that modern people not forced to ‘sacrifice’ aren’t as awesome as them have to rub it in by not even giving our generations full names? “Gen X,” “Gen Y,” “Millennials.” Two letters and a word that gets marked as misspelled, even in Microsoft Office 2000.

Our wars have no drafts, our music is made up of mashed-up clips of the hits of previous generations and most of our war planes don’t even have pilots. So we dug deep inside ourselves and created an amazing generation of new products with hopes to bring our average level of suffering in line with the past.

We created the Walkman which introduced tangled headphone cables, then we created the disc man; same headphones problem with the added hassle of having to hold them very still while walking so the songs wouldn’t skip, and through hard work and science we created the iPod, whose ear bud headphones ushered in a new era of everyday tangles.

We told ourselves it would make our lives easier when in reality being able to bring all the music you owned with you anywhere offered so many suggestions we ended up just listening to the same playlist all the time; overwhelmed by options.

We’ve worked hard and made a lot of progress in the past 10-15 years; our lives are officially difficult. But there is hope. Those of us who are not crushed under the weight of a DVR full of unwatched episodes of “Cake Boss,” or lost at the back of a Netflix queue so long you can’t remember which movies you actually wanted to watch and which you just wanted people to see on your account and think “ooh, he must be pretty smart/cultured/clever if he likes that” will emerge, changed, better, free.

But even after all of that, we’re probably never going to get up to date on Cake Boss.

Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. His column appears on the second and fourth Friday of every month. He can be contacted at vincedavis06@gmail.com