The ‘brainwashed generation’ sobriquet has been kicking around for an exceedingly long time, probably since kids during the Stone Age had slightly more entertaining rocks to play with than the previous batch of cave-kids.
The ancient Greeks were frequently moved to remark upon the unfathomable, ill-mannered, disobedient youth of today, and even the works of Mozart and Bach were considered little more than a noisy racket in some quarters. All of which is to say, spare us the hand wringing, finger wagging think pieces about the youth of today and their crazy phones that they’re always looking at.
It’s a convenient way to shift the screwed up state of the world onto a group of people with zero power or influence into making it that way. Or is it too many selfies that are melting the ice caps? It’s a neat trick, but so is somebody pulling a quarter out from behind your ear when you’re a kid that doesn’t know any better.
Here’s a tip. If the current generation is lost inside a virtual world, it’s because that world is preferable to the ‘real’ one that they have had foisted upon them.
Brainwashed? That really ups the ante though. It’s not enough to do the standard “kids today” routine; now they’re too stupid to even know what’s happening. Is it really that hard to believe that infinite connections to anywhere and anything in the world, at your fingertips, might be somewhat more compelling than double shifts, team meetings, and student loans?
In the spirit of reclaiming the word, let’s say that brainwashed doesn’t have to mean zombified passivity. Maybe the minds of a generation have been cleansed of all the old rules and systems that don’t seem to apply anymore. (*Psst* houses cost more than 50k now, and you can’t get a loan for one on a barista’s take home) Maybe those blank expressions aren’t so blank. Maybe they’re watching the future crumble, and waiting for the chance to take anything that’s left.