My long-suffering man friend and I often bemoan the Damn Kids Today and their lack of intellectual curiosity and branding obsession and mystifying substitution of electronics for human contact, and just as it always happens, there are other people in the world who have the same thoughts I do and write legitimate books about them. I’ve been reading reviews of this Jacoby book about the willful ignorance and anti-intellectualism of America (I also wrote a paper about those awesome Left Behind books that centered on anti-intellectualism as one of the religious right’s most important weapons), and I’ve been thinking myself about what makes my students’ generation that much worse than mine (AND THEY ARE, CATEGORICALLY, I do not lack perspective! Fuck off!), and I think I have figured something out. (That combined with the reviews for Definitely, Maybe–especially the one in Salon where Mary Elizabeth Williams says something like "o ye who have ever held a Zima, the bell tolls for thee" and I cringed and laughed simultaneously for like 10 minutes remembering this one time my friend Meghan Deacon and I drank Zima and juice-and-gin for a night–if I did that now I would LITERALLY DIE).
So my man-friend and I are both on the very end cusp of Generation X, and our youth embodied all of the quintessential Gen-X accoutrement (including, briefly in one of our cases, a goatee): and that is, slacking for sure, but a certain pointed and deliberate kind of slacking wherein the slackers use big words and armchair quasiphilosophical arguments and smart cleverness all for the sake of slacking–it was slacking but slacking in a deliberately intelligent manner, as if to say: I am MADE OF POTENTIAL but I choose to USE THAT POTENTIAL to drink coffee and fill out video personal ads where I am flying through Seattle and then Eric Stolz or some guy who look just like him goes out with my roommate instead.
My students’ generation, on the other hand, is slackery but slackery in a deliberately, celebratorily dumb way (I think here especially of the references in the book reviews to the Kellie Pickford on "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" that make me wish for nuclear holocaust every five minutes, Bill Hicks you hadn’t seen NOTHING yet)–like when I was a slacker I did a terrible job on my William Blake papers but that is because I was busy scribbling in my journal about Kafka and writing scathing cultural commentary for the college paper (I am SO grateful none of the Schuman Era is online–because I’m too old!), not because I was playing Nintendo Wii and proud that I could only count to six. Our slacking was a deliberate misuse of knowledge and intelligence, a looking awry (pace Zizek) as it were–their slacking can’t even be called "slacking" because the word "slacker" carries with it all these awesome 90s allusions of intelligence that THEY DO NOT DESERVE.
So what can be done to remedy any of this? Fucking nothing, people, that’s why I’m not having kids. You want inspiration, go to some other dumbass’s blog.