In Defense of "Generation Selfie": Nick Gillespie at The Daily Beast

The New York Times and other Establishment outposts are flipping out over a new Pew Research report on Millennials (defined as folks between the ages of 18 and 33). The cause of the anxiety? The Kids These Days' lack of attachment to political parties, religious organizations, and old-fashioned patriotism. And selfies. Yes, selfies.

I offer a defense of "Generation Selfie" in my latest Daily Beast column:

“In the future,” worries Ross Douthat, “there will be only one ‘ism’—Individualism—and its rule will never end. As for religion, it shall decline; as for marriage, it shall be postponed; as for ideologies, they shall be rejected; as for patriotism, it shall be abandoned; as for strangers, they shall be distrusted. Only pot, selfies and Facebook will abide.”

Does it strike anyone else as odd that selfies—clearly less the product of rising narcissism and more the product of the same awesome technology that empowers citizens to capture cops beating the shit of innocent people—have emerged as this year’s droopy pants, backwards baseball caps, or visible piercings, as a shorthand for all that is wrong with today’s youth? Getting bent out of shape over selfies may just be the ultimate #firstworldproblem.

To my mind, it makes perfect sense that Millennials aren't buying into the old verities:

More than most age groups, Millennials know that they are being set up for a generational scam of epic proportions. Indeed, Obamacare’s individual market is explicitly predicated upon overcharging relatively younger, healthier, poorer people to subsidize lower premiums for relatively older, sicker, and wealthier people (who really hit the jackpot when they turn 65 and get Medicare). A full 51 percent of Millennials believe they won’t receive any Social Security benefits and an additional 39 percent say that they will receive reduced benefits if they get anything at all. That’s not even factoring in analysis by Urban Institute researchers who show that virtually all workers getting Social Security after 2009 will get less out of the system than they paid in. Wait until that sinks in on younger Americans.

Millennials, alas, aren't perfect - or all that smart. For instance, more than Gen Xers, Boomers, or members of the Silent Generation, they prefer a government that is bigger and provides more services. Which is exactly how we got into problems in the first place. So they've got that learning curve ahead of them. But to the extent that they are turning their back on "political parties and other zombified artifacts of our glorious past," they're a hell of a lot smarter than I was at their age.

Read the whole thing.

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  • John||

    The danger of this generation is not that they are self centered. I fail to see the downside of a generation that is skeptical of whatever national hive projects people like Dohat envision for them.

    The danger is that while they are in some ways very individualistic, they are in the important ways often conformist as hell. Way too many of them seem to take the various leftist bullshit their teachers told them as given truth. While I meet lots of this generation who are very much individualist when it comes to fashion and such. I seem to never meet any of them who are in any way subversive to the various dogmas their generation has been taught to take for granted.

    Where is this generation's contribution to culture and ideas? Where is their counter culture? Maybe it is there but if it is I sure have missed it.

  • Ivan Pike Trolle||

    Where is this generation's contribution to culture and ideas? Where is their counter culture? Maybe it is there but if it is I sure have missed it.

    But that presupposes that they think about issues and problems. I don't see this with any I meet and talk with. They don't seem to have the desire or ability to look at, much less diagnose and propose solutions to any of the problems of modern society.

  • cryptArchy||

    The counter culture is there John, but as of right now it's so small it is easily to overlook

  • The Terminator||

    I'm a Millennial. I don't follow leftist dogma. Nice to meet you.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I've heard so many definitions of "millennial" that the term has no meaning.

  • Zeb||

    Trying to put people into discreet generations or cohorts is stupid. But "people who are in their 20s now" is somewhat meaningful.

  • iEagleHammer||

    "Where is this generation's contribution to culture and ideas"

    Think about what your parents generation said, they said the same shit about you. Just because YOU don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.

  • Brandybuck||

    Look at that! You call that dancing? It looks like an epileptic convention! Damn whippersnappers and their jitterbug, that generation is contributing anything to culture.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Indeed, Obamacare’s individual market is explicitly predicated upon overcharging relatively younger, healthier, poorer people to subsidize lower premiums for relatively older, sicker, and wealthier people..."

    The only reason that Millenials know that is how open the progs have been describing that that is how Obamacare is supposed to work. It was more the progressives overconfidence that they have completely captured this demographic than any skepticism on Millenials part.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Getting bent out of shape over selfies may just be the ultimate #firstworldproblem."

    How many people have ruined their reputations by injudicious use of selfies? It is a symptom of people having no boundaries, sense of shame, or even self-preservation.

  • Roadsider||

    I've lived long enough to see these issues go circular. Seems that every generation is turned off to "the establishment" until they see a good reason to join it. Buy a house, you're now part of that industrial complex with its own political affiliations. Get a job, you're part of that industry's lobbying group. Etc., etc. Predicting the political winds based on people with newly minted college degrees is hardly a reliable indicator of what's in store for us ten years on.

  • waffles||

    Patriotic became a dirty word to millenials after all the "these colors don't run" stuff in the 2000s. Think of the shades of meaning between patriotism and American pride.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    A lack of social trust combined with greater statism? I thought Reason cited international studies showing a correlation of statism with widespread distrust of other people and social institutions. This is a good thing? Traditionally, disaffected youth tend to be vulnerable to populist, charismatic leaders.

  • iEagleHammer||

    Our counter culture is internet based, hence the reason none of you older folks can see it. Everything is more individualized now, you don't need to stage a protest to speak out. The degree to which, baby boomer in particular, don't understand the internet culture is staggering. Heck, I'm at the front end of the millennial generation and I don't understand all of it. Snap chat? Why?

    I think that because of the internet we have the largest reason to be optimistic in a long time. Because of it, we can see how the government fucks us every day, and they can't hide (unless they can pass a cispa-esque bill).

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Sprüngli||

    "Our counter culture is internet based, hence the reason none of you older folks can see it."

    Did your head explode once you realized the irony of posting this remark on these thar intarwebs?

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Sprüngli||

    "Our counter culture is internet based, hence the reason none of you older folks can see it."

    Irony...it abounds.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Sprüngli||

    SQUIRRELZ!

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