Irony and crippling self-consciousness are the culprits. The post-modern irony at the heart of Generation X has made it taboo to be passionate about anything, lest one appear “uncool” or cop to liking something that’s sell-by date has unwittingly passed by. This engenders the kind of eyes-averted, foot-shuffling, non-commital mumbling that has come to be the language among many young people. Hell, even when you can get someone to admit what he or she likes, it’s almost always followed by the caveat, “Yeah, I know I’m a geek” or “I’m a total dork,” in effect apologizing for their affinities. This is another ironic back-door escape route being identified in case the audience doesn’t share one’s tastes: “Oh, I know it’s lame, but isn’t it spectacularly lame in a hilarious way?”
Punk rock, on the other hand, was defined by its passion, and whether that passion was Romantic (artistic), political, or nihilistic, it was vehemently—even violently—presented. Such passion has become taboo in an age of irony that pays lip service to individuality while remaining desperately concerned with not being ostracized. No one is willing to risk being excluded for improper allegiance.
I also think this is making our country consistently stupider. Asking questions in class or getting genuinely excited about learning brands one a nerd and invites ridicule from the status quo, so kids learn to quell their enthusiasm. To be cool is not to give a shit.
In other words, people aren’t pussies because they don’t fuck, fight, or get get fucked up—they’re so self-conscious and so desperate for acceptance that they won’t allow themselves to express their passions—if they allow themselves to have them in the first place. It’s sad, it’s stupid, and it’s cowardly.”—Brett Eugene Ralph
My friend floated this one out into a public space a little while ago and never more has it hit home. Really.
Brett Eugene Ralph gets the shirt off my back because of things like this.
This is actually very close to the subject of my next MRR column, too. Brett Ralph 4 life.