This past weekend I found myself engaged in a conversation with one of my former co-workers-turned-friends. She was expressing to me how thankful she was for Netflix and Desperate Housewives while I was supplying her with a running commentary on my ceaseless job search. I told her that I had just come across a position for a “Meme Creator” and didn’t know whether to be disappointed in the direction my field was taking or to embrace the humor of it all. I added that while I generally enjoyed the idea that somebody got paid to put clever words on a strategically comedic picture, perhaps humanity’s money was better spent curing cancer or researching a way to end world hunger.
Her reply was, “No, we got bored with that a while ago. Now we make people laugh.”
To which I riposted, “Ah, yes. Panem et circenses.”
After several minutes of digital silence, I received her confused “What??” in response.
I tried to explain the Roman concept to the friend in question, but the conversation soon faded as did some of my pride in my generation. Upon further reflection of this hollowing feeling, I found myself increasingly disappointed in the people I called peers. How is one supposed to carry on relatively stimulating conversation with a group of individuals who have formed the habit of expressing emotion and reaction with the use of gifs and emojis? How can we form basic human connections if we refuse to look away from our various screens for even the length of a meal?
In the past, I have Christened myself a “Defender of the Millennials” but not today. Today, the only word of which I can think to describe the majority of my generation is puerile, and I would wager that the same majority could not even define the word. Do not misunderstand me. In the ever-optimistic fashion of the Millennial, I have not lost complete faith in my generation. Yet for now I welcome the criticism from previous generations in hopes that some of my compeers will acknowledge our social responsibility to contribute more to humanity than text lingo and Grumpy Cat.