DONOHUE: Will we be the generation where nothing happened?

Caity Donohue

We hear it all the time. Our grandparents tell us we don’t know the meaning of hard work. We didn’t walk uphill both to and from school. Our generation is one of the first to have teachers and adults concerned about damaging our “fragile psyches” in elementary schools. The movement for women’s equality has impacted workplaces everywhere. As a professor of mine pointed out the other day, the only position a woman hasn’t held in this country is president. The Internet has already been invented. Despite the emergence of popular fiction like the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” series, no one has a novel to remain relevant in centuries to come.

It is disappointing that in a lot of ways we seem to be a culture repeating itself. When baby-doll shirts came back a few years ago, my mother said, “Those weren’t a good look in the seventies. They didn’t need to make a comeback.” Lady Gaga seems to be the only person constantly pushing her wardrobe’s limits, and it hasn’t created much of a following. In a similar fashion, music has almost exhausted its options. Techno has been done, and both rap and R&B haven’t evolved much in the last decade. Country singers, even the pop-crossover artists like Taylor Swift, are still belting out the ways in which they’ve been done wrong. Rock isn’t seeing a lot of change with some bands continuously producing new albums every few years. Indie music, while having a few breakthrough artists who made it into mainstream radio, is getting lumped into the “pop” category, and the style remains largely undiscovered. Media tactics are the same as they always have been, and politicians are still predictably untrustworthy.

I frequently wonder if this is because we have found no need for innovation. After all, search engines like Google give us information at our fingertips. Our favorite songs can get lumped together in a playlist on our iPods. Magazines or salespeople tell us what styles work for our body types, meaning no one is feeling too flamboyant with his or her fashion sense. Art comes in so many forms, and none of them new: sculpture, oils photography and the various performance arts. Television networks seem to go out of their way to make sure that every demographic and social archetype is covered to promote ratings. Even reality television has run the gamut, which can be the only reason why the Kardashians were given a spin-off. Businesswomen and female engineers are rapidly growing in number. Laws have remained mostly unchallenged and unquestioned unless an election is lurking around the corner.

We have settled. It sounds harsh, but I believe it is true. Our generation has exceptional potential. Record-breaking numbers of students go to four-year institutions, and we have the resources left to us by past generations to create great things; however, we seem to be at a fork in the road. There are logical questions, of course. How far can we take technology? We have computers, television sets, telephones and iPods. What more do we need? If you think about it, though, no one ever needed a cellular phone until it was created.

What’s wrong with the music on the radio? Absolutely nothing, but again, there was nothing wrong with music before Motown, either. It is my opinion that just because we have “enough,” we should not be dissuaded from pursuing improvement. We cannot be a generation without movement, or we will be remembered as the period of time during which nothing happened.


Caity Donohue is a sophomore English and secondary education major from Northbrook, Ill. She can be reached at [email protected].