Libertarian History/Philosophy

Is This "The Age of the Comedown"? Some Millennials Think So

|

Over at Splice Today, millennial Nicky Smith announces that the future is only so bright because of the likely nuclear flash that's going to happen before 2100. He's responding to novelist Bret Easton Ellis' recent Vanity Fair jeremiad against millennials as "Generation Wuss." Ellis is right, says Smith. "Millennials are over-sensitive, narcissistic, unrealistic and anxious. No mystery why: we grew up in the midst of an unprecedented end-of-the-century party in the Western World."

Smith continues:

What Ellis cannot comprehend is the unspoken certainty amongst people my age that the world will not make it to 2100. There is just absolutely no way—climate change, earthquakes, massive expulsions of methane, radioactive fallout, dramatic terrorist attacks—and the human experiment is nearing its end. It's not pessimism, but it's easy to forget that the Cuban Missile Crisis was only 52 years ago next month. That's a blip of human history, and it only takes one loon, or a group of organized and legitimate loons and psychopaths in positions of power to orchestrate mass death or total annihilation. Let's assume we all behave ourselves and refrain from blowing or mutating everything away: there's a consensus in the scientific community that climate change is at too advanced a stage to stall, and its effects will be irreversible and make coastal cities uninhabitable very, very soon.

Ellis is 50; he's in the September of his years. He'll most likely be fine, and he doesn't have to worry about what the air in Los Angeles will be like in 2067. When pressed, Boomers blow it off as sophomoric fatalism and go on about the sanctity and durability of life. They can't help it—that was their world, their narrative. We're living in the Age of the Comedown, and very soon everyone will be feeling it worse than they could've ever imagined.

As someone who turned 50 a year ago, I prefer to think of Ellis as being in the June of his years (if not late May).

But wow, what a Debbie Downer Young Goodman Smith is! Doesn't he read Reason.com enough to know that we not only survived the Cuban Missile Crisis but we won the Cold War to boot (for god's sake, the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall is coming up this fall); ISIS and assorted Islamist-themed jackasses need to be taken out, but they're not an existential threat to the civilized world. 

Climate change isn't the bugaboo he seems to think, either. To paraphrase Reason's Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey, it's happening; humans are involved; and we'll figure out how to cope with anything that gets thrown our way, just like we've been doing for thousands of years. The air in Los Angeles today is vastly cleaner than it was in 1967 and there's absolutely no reason to believe it will be dirty again in 2067. Indeed, the air in Bejing, which is dirtier than it was 40 years ago due to the sort of economic production that has lifted millions of Chinese up from subsistence, will be cleaner in 2067 than it is now.

As the parent of millennials myself—and the younger brother of a sibling who graduated college in the grim year of 1981—I feel sympathy for young adults these days due to economic malaise and looming fiscal issues. But if the past is prologue and if the political class does the bare minimum to rein in entitlements and the like (yes, a big if), even the near-future will be upbeat. When I graduated college just four years after my brother, things had already turned the corner.

While it will take a lot of effort to make sure that politicians give in to the Libertarian Moment and start enacting the sort of common-sense reforms to right the ship of state and allow economic markets to get cranking again, there's every reason to believe things are going to be all right. For god's sake, the Libertarian Moment is so happening that conservative-types are hauling out Hitler arguments to combat it. In the meantime, Nicky Smith, take a moment to talk to your elders about how shitty things were for them at various times back in the day.

For a different perspective on millennials, check out Reason.com's incredible landing page dedicated to the subject.

NEXT: Detroit's Water Shutoff Can Continue, Says Judge

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. For god’s sake, the Libertarian Moment is so happening

    Clap your hands if you believe in fairies The Libertarian Moment.

    And can you regale us with how Anchorman 2 is the Most Important Film of the Year?

    1. I hated anchorman 2. Then I found myself quoting it and looking scenes up online. Damn it I hate myself sometimes.

    2. Please get a hobby.

  2. the world will not make it to 2100. There is just absolutely no way?climate change, earthquakes

    Yes, because there’s never been earthquakes before now and the climate has never changed before now.

    I had to hear every single day the entire time before I moved out on my own (that used to happen before age 40), that the world was going to end any day now cause jeebus is coming back. Now I have to hear every fucking day of my adult life that we’re doomed because global warming.

    Fuck all of you doomsayer jackasses, go fucking kill yourself now and STFU.

    1. So climate change and earthquakes will blow up the Earth? I didn’t know that they could do that.

      1. Once again the enviros don’t realize that the planets can exist without life.

        1. No, they realize that. When they’re talking about the world ending, they are actually saying all life will end, or at least human life. I’ll give them credit for being that intelligent.

          It’s just that they’re the biggest pussies to ever exist in the line of the human race. Our ancestors survived brutal conditions and actual real climate change and survived it, with only the most basic of tools and technology. Now with all of our technology, a 2 degrees change in global temperature will kill us all off. And I repeat myself, pussies!

    2. Ummm… Even it the seas rise, won’t we just have new coastal cities? I look forward to vacationing at Atlanta Beach and delta hub.

      1. Has the sea risen? Maybe the ManBearPig could use that hockey stick to do some measuring and let us know, or stick up his arse.

      2. I’ve got a 4 foot rise in front of the family beach house. The beach will just be closer than ever!

        1. Which beach?

            1. Does that 4 foot rise happen once a day?

              1. No. The storm surge from Dennis in 2006 floated our septic tank, but that was more than a 4 foot rise. Usual tides are maybe a foot or two.

            2. I don’t know that particular beach but that area has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. Nice.

      3. If we don’t take climate change seriously right this very instant, we won’t be able to finish the walls between high ground and places like California, NYC, Boston, Florida, etc.

        It is important we begin working on the wall right now!

    3. And humans are incapable of adapting.

      1. Apparently, we can’t even adapt to a make believe crisis. Just think if a real one comes along.

      2. My biggest fear for the future, if I were these youngsters, wouldn’t be the nihilistic catastrophes (although most generations have feared such one-stop destruction; before atom bombs, it might have been the Rapture, or some other similar End Times). No, I’d be more concerned about a future (which doesn’t appear that far off) where every single move we make, every breath we take, someone or something will be digitally watching us.

        I don’t think the current youth, growing up around so much technology, really cares about this like I might. The pure joy of flooring your gas pedal on a straight, empty, deserted rural road? Gone. Instead, a world where you probably can’t do anything privately, even masturbate, because you are under constant monitoring.

        Personally, living like that would bother me a lot more than a world with higher water in New York Harbor.

        1. No, I’d be more concerned about a future (which doesn’t appear that far off) where every single move we make, every breath we take, someone or something will be digitally watching us.

          I’m not that afraid of Sting, he seems like a pretty chill guy. And he was probably exaggerating in that song anyway.

    4. The insane thing about it all is that by just about every measure, the past 10-15 years have been the greatest in human history. The only thing Nicky Smith’s paranoid piece accomplished was to confirm everything Ellis wrote.

  3. climate change, earthquakes, massive expulsions of methane, radioactive fallout, dramatic terrorist attacks

    Hey, what are killer bees, chopped liver?

    1. Oh man, where have you been? Killer bees, ozone layer, ice age, those things are like so last week. Do try to keep up.

      1. Oh, very well. Asteroid strikes, then.

        1. Where’s Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck when you need them?

          1. Lib Tyler got fat. I haz a sad.

        2. That’s actually a real threat that could wipe us out. Politicians and leftist hacks don’t want to talk about that.

          1. Politicians and leftist hacks don’t want to talk about that.

            Until they can figure out a way that an asteroid threat can increase their power…

  4. The only danger I see to the future is people letting the government destroy us. Everything else, to the extent that they’re real threats at all, can be dealt with.

    1. That’s pretty much the biggest threat by come order of magnitude. I would say comet or astroid is next, followed by a caldera eruption. And we could potentially survive all of those things.

      1. some order of…

      2. Asteroid/comet is avoidable right now if we stopped pretending it wasn’t a huge threat. Just because we haven’t been smacked harshly recently is no reason to hope for the best. If our number comes up and we can’t do shit about it, well, no membership in the Federation for us.

        Government has killed more people than just about anything else unless a Mars-sized object hits the Earth.

        1. It will be something like that will take us out while the government is ignoring the threat and spending trillions to stop global warming, which isn’t happening. So in effect, the government will kill us all, one way or the other.

          1. Is there any doubt at all? Nuclear war or any other worldwide WMD cataclysm? Government. Negligent death by orbital body? Government. And so on down to the more likely reducing us to the fucking Dark Ages through insane economic and political policies.

      3. “caldera eruption” -er I think you mean Supervolcanic eruption.

    2. AI sentience or chemical warfare by an alien invader are some of the risks that keep me up at night. Mostly it’s the mattress stuffed with cocaine and doll heads keeping me up at night but sometimes those other things.

    3. The only danger I see to the future is people letting the government destroy us. Everything else, to the extent that they’re real threats at all, can be dealt with.

      I wouldn’t ignore the potential for synergism as well.

      strong public education policies + virus
      strong anti-reproductive policies + any catastrophe
      strong local organic food policies + inclimate weather
      etc.

  5. While it will take a lot of effort to make sure that politicians give in to the Libertarian Moment and start enacting the sort of common-sense reforms to right the ship of state and allow economic markets to get cranking again, there’s every reason to believe things are going to be all right.

    Ah yes the assumption that the politicians secretly agree with you and will not enact the horrible things they advocate. Very rational.

  6. Sock Puppets!

  7. ISIS and assorted Islamist-themed jackasses need to be taken out, but they’re not an existential threat to the civilized world

    I agree, it’s the civilized worlds governments that’s a threat to the civilized world. Upon their imminent collapse, maybe we can resume progress instead of sitting around in a circle jerk hand wringing constant make believe crisis about global warming, rape culture, racism, blahblahblahblah.

    Maybe then it’ll be perfectly ok to knock those fucking blowhards about the head and continue on with progress.

  8. This Millenitard says

    “What Ellis cannot comprehend is the unspoken certainty amongst people my age that the world will not make it to 2100”

    You think? because its not like people who grew up in the 1980s had any problem similar to *that*

    This adult-diaper-salesperson seems to think that their contrived ‘environmental disaster’ is somehow more plausible than Nuclear War?

    Or that the current Green-Panic is *new*? I seem to recall ‘Acid Rain’ and the ‘Vanishing Ozone Layer’ being fairly contemporary concerns at the time.

    All this person has done is provide further evidence of the ungodly intellectual laziness and historical ignorance of Millenials.

    1. You should have linked to this, instead. :-p

      1. You should have linked to this, instead. :-p

        I figured it would’ve been this or this instead, or maybe this too.

        1. Ah, I see you have linked thricely, and are therefore Blessed by the Squirrels.

    2. Or that the current Green-Panic is *new*?

      ***cough***SilentSpring***cough***

    3. Millenitards, heh, I’m going to use that.

      1. If you do, please use two Ns: Millennitards.

        1. Are you suggesting that there are millennitards that can spell and will know the difference? Isn’t one N faster to text with?

          1. Which is why you should spell it out.

    4. Relevant: ozone layer now apparently thickening.

  9. So, a millenial tries to explain away the generation’s alleged oversensitivity, narcissism, and angst by… spewing forth several paragraphs of apocalyptic whining.

    1. Yep, pretty much.

    2. Maybe we should’ve had that nuclear war after all.

  10. so you’re saying you just fell off the turnip truck. congrats.

    1. “The *local* turnip truck, thank you very much!”

  11. From the article:

    “My huge generalities touch on their over-sensitivity, their insistence that they are right despite the overwhelming proof that suggests they are not, their lack of placing things within context, the overreacting, the passive-aggressive positivity, and, of course, all of this exacerbated by the meds they’ve been fed since childhood by over-protective “helicopter” parents mapping their every move.”

    Um, as a Millenial that pretty much describes a good two-thirds of my friends. I think a lot of this has to do with being the first generation actively exposed to the internet through their childhood. It’s an opportunity to learn and expand your views, but it’s also something that can easily lead to confirmation bias and deliberately walling yourself off from opposing views. Politically it also makes it very easy to demonize your opponents.

    1. “My huge generalities touch on their over-sensitivity”

      Oh, my!

  12. we’d have killed to have an 86 year end of the world horizon when I was a kid.

    1. **Years**? LUXURY!?

      When i was a kid, we’d have been happy to have lived to the end of the day without being eaten alive by hordes of AIDS infected rappers during an Acid Rainstorm

        1. see the linked vid, sense will be made

          Also: yes, ‘Attack of the AIDS Rappers’ was around 1987 or so. Before they got into a violent turf-war with the Mutant-Chernobyl-Crack-Babies

    2. Yeah, where the fuck is the Doomsday Clock?

  13. the grim year of 1981

    What was so grim about 1981? Other than Bob Marley’s untimely demise.

    1. Eight is Enough was cancelled in 1981. Isn’t that grim enough for you? 😉

      1. Raging Bull losing Best Picture?

        1. That’s nothing. Kramer vs. Kramer beat out Apocalypse Now for Best Picture and Best Director. Quick, name the director!

          1. Robert Benton.

            1. You looked that up. Admit it.

              1. Nope, I didn’t.

                1. I don’t believe you. No one knows that. No one wants to know that.

                  Is that Robbie Benton, the actor?

          2. Wasn’t that a 1979 picture?

            1. Yes, but the awards were in 1980.

          3. Kramer vs. Kramer beat out Apocalypse Now for Best Picture

            Nude in her prime JoBeth Williams….

            It earned the win.

        2. “Raging Bull losing Best Picture?”

          Well, this is what i say to THAT

    2. This song hit #1 in 1981. Does that count as grim?

    3. Return of the Jedi. Ewoks.

      We shall speak no more of 1981

      1. That was 1983.

      2. Good, because that was ’83.

        1. yes, but someone thought up Ewoks in 1981

          just trust me, it was a bad year.

      3. 1983, as noted above, but also the movie was good except for the Ewoks. Fortunately, in the sequels, we learn that the Death Star II did, in fact, kill the local population.

        1. Ehhh that movie had other problems.

          1. I thought it was pretty good, sans Ewoks. Like the whole redemption arc, though that’s now tainted by the prequels.

            1. I didn’t like that Luke Skywalker became an asexual monk because his incentous lust for his sister was complicated by her love for his best friend as well as his urgent need to kill his own dad in order to save the planet of the monkey-bears.

              I mean, I was like, “FUCK IT DUDE!! GO TO THE DARK SIDE!! THEY HAVE COOL STUFF!”

              To be fair, i also apparently completely misunderstood the movie E.T.

              My family later explained to me that the alien was *not* trying to brainwash children to help ease the way for Alien invasion, and that i should not have been rooting for E.T.s death by bacterial infection.

  14. Regarding the first photo, the movie Less Than Zero is what you get when you remake The Lost Weekend as a screwball comedy.

  15. It’s not pessimism, but it’s easy to forget that the Cuban Missile Crisis was only 52 years ago next month. That’s a blip of human history, and it only takes one loon, or a group of organized and legitimate loons and psychopaths in positions of power to orchestrate mass death or total annihilation.

    Ok, I have an idea… PERHAPS WE MIGHT QUIT GIVING THE LOONS MORE POWER? Huh? Huh? Anyone? Huh?

    Nah, that’s TEABAGGER TALK!

    1. Nah the legitimate loons and psychopaths are the libertarians. They actually want to leave people alone which means people will starve in the streets, be forced into rape camps and eat each other for food while aimlessly wandering around their ravaged former cities.

  16. To paraphrase Reason’s Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey, it’s happening; humans are involved; and we’ll figure out how to cope with anything that gets thrown our way, just like we’ve been doing for thousands of years

    *sigh*

    And what’s the #1 suggesting for “figuring it out”?

    That’s right, less of you.

  17. I think Reason needs something like the selfie flowchart for their articles.

    “When is it acceptable to write yet another article about millenials?”

    “No.”

  18. I really like Ellis’ columns, and I remind myself that it is probably not his fault he spells his name wrong. The man can right an excellent rant. And who’s gonna mess with the guy who wrote American Psycho?

    1. it is probably not his fault he spells his name wrong.

      […]

      The man can right an excellent rant.

      Boom, are you here all week?

      1. WTF. I am so ashamed write now.

    2. Writer Bret Harte would tell you to go fuck yourself, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s been dead 112 years. :-p

      1. Bret Hart is still alive. He just retired from wrestling.

        I don’t know what you are talking about.

      2. Bret Harte? Ne’er the Twain shall meet.

  19. having the temperature rise a degree and making the earth lusher and greener is way scarier than Mutually Assured Destruction.

  20. Jesus Christ, this idiot basically uses the idiotic collectivist canard “Millenials are lazy and narcissistic” to excuse his own laziness and narcissism. All this “Millenials” bullshit that people are throwing around is actually doing one thing: giving the people who are actually like what people are saying all “Mellenials” are like an excuse.

    Another reason why collectivism of any kind is retarded.

    1. That’s Mellonials–Millennials owned by Mellon Bank.

    2. You tell em Epi, I’m with you!!

  21. Look, ok, the earth is going to end and it’s a certainty. So let’s just all lie down and whine about it now and give up all hope. Since there’s really no possibility of getting off this rock with only a few billion years left before our sun becomes a red giant and incinerates the planet. I know there’s no hope because politicians will still be spending all of our money trying to fix some problem that doesn’t exist.

    1. Seriously, we need soma or full immersion VR with haptic interfaces–or both, for that matter–to get all of these pessimists out of the way of our success and survival. Don’t want to deal with it? Fine, take this and put this VR suit on.

    2. Something something long run something mumble we’re all dead something whatever.

  22. When Social Security and Medicare and the pension funds and the government go bankrupt, and the dollar becomes worthless, you’ll wish that all you had to worry about was the average temperature being a few degrees hotter.

  23. Anybody who states we will not make it to 2100 is clearly an idiot and clearly ignorant of history

    We may or we may not but there is certainly no evidence to predict we will not

    1. There have been similar concerns countless times in the history of the world and yet due to Hardwork innovation necessity being the mother of pension etc. etc. we find a way and the concerns of the day that seemed so overwhelming and crushing turnout in retrospect to have been baseless or at least not as serious

      The myopic ignorance with these kind of predictions remind me of the story about the guy who claimed in the early 1900s that the patent office was obsolete since all important inventions had already been made

      Whether that story is true or apocryphal it demonstrates my point about ignorance

      Another example would be Bill Gates famous ignorant statement about how much RAM a personal computer would have/need

  24. Holy Christ! Climate change!? Even the friggin IPCC says climate change will only cost the world somewhere between 0.2 and 2% of GDP over the qhole century. By comparison, world GDP grew 10% over just the last decade.

    And nuclear bombs? I’m pretty sure my parents generation experienced that threat a ton more than millenials ever will. Somehow they pulled through.

    I’m pretty sure the worst threat millenials will face is how looney other millenials like this guy are.

  25. All you old people born in the ’60s and ’70s don’t have any idea what it’s like to have an unsure future. So, what was this Cold War thing? Is that when you thought the world was cooling, because now it’s warming up and we’re all gonna die. But you don’t care about that, do you? No, because you’re almost fifty and you’re ready to die anyway.

    1. WE ARE YOUNG!! WE ARE STRONG!! NO ONE CAN TELL US WE’RE WRONG!!!

      THERE’S NO WAY ANYONE IN THE 1980s WOULD UNDERSTAND

  26. I think this pessimism is driven to some extent by the internet — by the fact that is fairly immediate and ephemeral, that older material is less available, and you really have to seek it out.

    There’s a real need, I think, to supplement traditional “news”, which is all about getting information out fast in many little “stories”, with something that grows over time to look forward, look backward, look more deeply into this or that detail. Something more like a Wikipedia article curated by a single reporter on a single broad story, but with some technology to make it easier for people following the story to easily get to the changes in the story.

  27. Those of us who grew up in 50s and 60s: did you really think the U.S. and Russians were going to blow up the world? As I recall, we studied hard and looked forward to a bright future. I don’t recall any friends or fellow students overly concerned with the H-Bomb end of the world, even during Cuban Missile Crisis.

    1. As a teenager in the 80s, it was something of a concern.

      Some people older than me seemed more confident that it was all bullshit, but others were totally freaking out that the End Times were upon us.*

      *they were liberals. and idiots. And Tom Petty fans

  28. The job market sure is a comedown. Anyone want to hire a middling MSc?

  29. You think Nicky Smith’s article is bad try this 6,250+ word behemoth –
    http://www.salon.com/2014/05/1…..t_failure/

    They must be scared out of their wits. They just won’t stop writing about how wrong, irrelevant and even laughable libertarian ideas are.

  30. As the parent of millennials myself?and the younger brother of a sibling who graduated college in the grim year of 1981

    You mean “who graduated from college in the grim year of 1981.”

  31. The world’s been due to end by next week my entire lifetime, and I’m at least a generation ahead of him.

  32. To paraphrase Reason’s Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey, it’s happening; humans are involved;

    Yeah but Bailey is an idiot who has zero evidence for any of his climate change claims.

    1. He’s far smarter than you and there is evidence that humanity is responsible for some warming. You’re an embarrassment to actual skeptics.

      1. there is evidence that humanity is responsible for some warming

        Nope.

        There is rock solid evidence that CO2 absorbs heat but no evidence that that can be attributed atmospheric warming.

        The warming that ended in 1998 or so is no different then past warming in all time scales when humans had negligible influence over atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

        Seriously the warming in the late 30s was just as drastic as today. And the further you go back the more drastic the temperature changes.

        1. Here is an image from 1959…at the fucking north pole.

          http://c3headlines.typepad.com…..970c-800wi

          Another from 1962

          http://stevengoddard.files.wor…..858411.jpg

          Get your “far smarter” Bailey to explain that.

        2. Here is some Ice Core data:

          http://www.foresight.org/nanod…..histo4.png

          How does bailey explain those bumps over the past 4000 years?

          How is the current little bump so very very very different that it can for sure be attributed to human influence?

  33. “Climate change isn’t the bugaboo he seems to think, either.”

    Yeah it is, at least according to the clear majority of scientists. Better yet, let me put it this way…it is according to millenials, the precious group you constantly rave about.

    So what’s the solution, Nick? Just a magic wand approach…”We’ll figure something out…we always do.” Lets see if Forbes can help you out.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/hb…..-we-think/

    That’s right, the costs of doing nothing are much more than the costs of tackling the problem. Nick, you and Ronald can’t even convince most commenters here to acknowledge a problem, no less a solution. Here is a business publication that acknowledges the problem at least. According to Forbes, who favors a market approach, we need more investment in renewable energy because we invest hardly anything. And what is the ultimate solution, according to them?

    “…if, in other words, we imposed a realistic price for carbon emissions that reflected our best estimates of the real cost of dumping them into the atmosphere ? then I suspect we would see unprecedented levels of innovation across the economy in ways we can only begin to imagine.”

    Its the innovation you and Ronald say will save us…are you willing to put a cost on carbon? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    1. I know, I know, Forbes must be on that AGW “gravy train” of conspiracy funding.

  34. Just like every other derivative copy-cat, these millenials can’t even do angst right.

    Hell, Gen X had to grow up under the constant threat of Mutual Assured Destruction [the whole of humanity incinerated in 90 minutes], global cooling, the ‘population bomb’, stagflation, only 13 channels on TV, and JIMMY F*$KING CARTER, ok? Those were some real dire times.

    These stupid kids have it easy in comparison.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.