— The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
DISCLAIMER: I generalize with the pronoun “we” hear rather than mediate this essay with “most” or “many” because it is less convoluted and easier to grasp. There are many many people of my generation whose attitude is not reflected in this essay. Perhaps the majority. Nonetheless it is something I have observed. Also, this sounds like a very angry, patronizing, holier than thou essay. It’s hard for it not to be when it’s me writing AT you rather than discussing with you. And who said I was above any of this anyway? Not me.
You hear that a lot right? A generation that thinks they are entitled to everything? Not only do older generations think it, but how many people in our own generation agree? A lot do. Entitled to jobs, to money, to vacations, to whatever it is we want. Well, I could say a lot about that but I have a much larger concern. It’s of the same name (entitlement) but of a different locus: Our ideas.
It’s exceedingly difficult and odd to make statements about a generation in regards to progression or degression from the values and norms of generation past, especially when you have only lived through one or tow or three of them. But let me do it without necessarily comparing us to other generations but just observing it as it exists regardless. What I have observed is a great amount of people of my generation who feel absolutely entitled to their ideas and their ideas being right.
Now this is a lot packed into a little. Let me say I do two things I do NOT mean: That we feel we have a right to be right is wrong or even the focus. That we do not have a right to our own ideas. In fact, I am not talking about rights but entitlements. What I mean when I say we feel our ideas are entitled to be right I mean we feel entitled to go unquestioned. We know what we know and that’s the end of it. We end our rants, ravings, and agruments with “and THAT is what I believe!” and feel entitled to that period mark. Entitled to the conversation ending there.
Do not tire us or distress with doubts, reflections, opposition, or…and most of all…teaching us entirely new anything. We know how the world works don’t you know. What we say goes. What we say is right because that’s what we believe. We go to college not to learn but to receive a degree. Opposing points of view and ideas and anything against what we believe? We feel entitled not to be exposed to any of it. To think none of it legitimate. We are above that and having to even consider it. We look tired and frustrated, like a tourist on a hot summer day in downtown New York City, when being asked to think about anything in a way we had not thought about it before. Because we have our ideas and our ideas are right. It’s been what? 18 WHOLE years. 20 WHOLE years. 30 WHOLE years. We are tired, tired of all that suffering through those pointless, irrelevant, wrong, dogmas and myths. We are irritated with the persistance of the other idea.
We log onto to tumblr. WE choose what ideas we are exposed to. On TV? We choose what ideas we are exposed to. On the internet, in the classes we take, on the radio stations we listen to, on the friends we hang around with. We are entitled NOT to have to hear a word uttered against what we have learned or come to believe over the course of our long, hard lives.
Where does this leave us? Intolerant? Bitter? Ignorant?
The problem is beyond the scope of wanting to be like this but feeling entitled to it. Can I say that word again? Entitled. Entitled. Entitled. We do not just have the right to be right we ARE right because no one else can be unless they agree with us because we feel authorized to do so, that, by surrounding ourselves with only arguments of susbstane pertaining to what WE believe and think and know, we deserve to be above learing, or being asked to think or study ourselves or question ourselves. For others to question us. We are offended when this happens. We offer back not substantive arguments but soundbites. Sneers. We offer up, “Really?”s in between giggles and strange oggling and misshapen mouths: just enogh visible disgust to make known our ever strong entitlement but not enough to lead to a discussion or an argument or a confrontation. That would be below us.