All Alone is All We Will One Day Once Have Been: A Generation X Response to Thomas Friedman’s “Generation Q”
The Lonely Puppet by Jace Cavacini (Highly Functioning Autistic: Asperger’s Syndrome)
At least one of the anthems of my generation is “All Apologies” by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame. The refrain which repeats over and over again in the collective mind of our generation is “All alone is all we are. All alone is all we are…”
My dream is that in the not so distant future, we will be able to update that riff by giving it a happier, more hopeful ending. To do that, however, is going to take a little work, and a little working together in a process I call “social cogeneration,” because only by working together will we be able to stand together and tell the world:
No, Kurt got it wrong. All alone is all we will one day once have been.
All Alone is All We Will One Day Once Have Been
A Generation X Response to Thomas Friedman’s “Generation Q”
As a leading edge member of Generation X, a generation I affectionately refer to as the generation trapped between idealism and despair, told by our parents we could do anything we dreamed of doing, then told “no” every time we tried, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on Thomas Friedman’s October 10, 2007 column, Generation Q, in which he termed the current crop of college students the “Quiet Generation.”
It’s not so much that Mr. Friedman got it “wrong,” but that he could have gotten it more right. The younger generation — also known to marketers and within popular culture as “Generation Y,” denoting those born between 1981 and 1995 — is indeed quiet now, but this does not mean they will be quiet later because they are also very much the “Quick” Generation, brought up in the age of Information Explosion, Internet learning by association and Social Software.
Fractal, “object oriented,” relational thinkers in the mold of noted technologist Ray Kurzweil, a self-described “patternist,” they “get” things, intuitively, in a Malcolm Gladwell “Blink” of an eye, even before they have language by which to frame those thoughts and, sadly, one of the lessons they have learned, perhaps a bit too fast, is that nobody is listening.
In my view, many members of Generation Q are not so much “quiet” as frustrated and, possibly, even a bit depressed.
I don’t know this in theory, but in practice, in anecdotal, but all too tangible, form, because for the better part of the past three years I have spent thousands of hours interviewing and talking to and corresponding with, not just members of Gen Q, but with people of all ages, across all economic and geographical and race divides.
I communicate with these people here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and on the streets of Manhattan, and on social software sites such as Flickr and Friendster, real life “participatory action research” by an aspiring professional human being who has made more than his fair share of mistakes. I tell these people stories — mostly in private, but also sometimes in public — stories about being a bit too “different,” about being a right-handed, right-brained thinker trying to follow a path with heart in a left brained world and not wanting anyone to know because I know what happens to those who dare to dream with the heart of a ten year old child…
They get trampled.
George Kingsley Zipf (Linguistics & Power Laws), Edward Witten (String Theory), Edward O. Wilson (Consilience, Social Complexity, Cognitive Blind Spots), Wikipedia (The Collective Wisdom of the Collective), Divakar Viswanath (Order in Chaos), Giambattista Vico (The First Principles Approach), Jan Vermeer (Diffusion of Light), Petr Tyc (Kinetics of Movement), Jan Tinbergen (A Gravity Model of Economics), Tom Stoppard (The “Implicate Order” in Life), Clay Shirky (Power Laws and Inequality), Sam Shepard (“Psycho-Geography” and “Lies of the Mind”), Matthew Salganik (Hidden Populations), William Shakespeare (Storytelling, Measure for Measure “Metrology” of the Psyche), Bernhard Riemann (The “Linear” Curve), Srinivasa Ramanujan (The “Implicate” Order in Mathematics), Pythagoras (Linear Equilibrium & Proportion), Claudius Ptolemaeus (Epicycles), Plato (Metonymy, Structure, Dialectic), Picasso (POV, Internal Fracture), Carlos Castro Perelman (Applied Number Theory), Leonardo da Pisa (Progression as Embedded Algorithm), Sir Roger Penrose (Penrose Tiling), Charles Peirce (Symbolic Logic), Ovid (Metamorphosis) H. Pierre Noyes (Bit String Physics), Don Norman (Emotion & Desgn), Friedrich Nietschze (The “Overman”), Jacob Nielsen (Usability), Fred Myers (Universal Time, Alternate Definitions of “Ownership”), Karl Marx (Systemic Clash and Dialectic), Benoit Mandelbrot (Complexity from Simplicity, Measure as Relative Construct), Anestis Logothetis (Visual Music), Mario Livio (The Golden Ratio), A. Garrett Lisi (Root Systems), Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz (The Relative Zero), Bruno LaTour (Material/Semiotic Correspondences), R.D Laing (The Divided Self, Intelligent Interdependence), LIFE EXPERIENCE, Akira Kurosawa (Social Relativity and POV), Milan Kundera (Question as Action), Johannes Kepler (Elliptical Curves, Twin Loci), D.R. Kaprekar (Number System Cyclicality), Daniel Kahneman (Prospect Theory), Franz Kafka, Carl Jung (Syncretism, Archetypes, The “Quantum” Psyche), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis), Vaclav Havel (Social Fusion by Diffusion), Gothamist.com Interviewees (The Zeitgeist), Malcolm Gladwell (Scale Free Networks, Intuition as Pre-Conscious Knowledge), Todd Gitlin (The “As if” Principle), Galileo Galilei (Relative Motion), Buckminster Fuller (Tensegrity), Sigmund Freud (Binary/Trinary Systems of the Psyche, Psychic Relativity, Free Association), Charles R. Frank, Jr. (The Indivisible Commodity, Cogeneration), Michel Foucault (Deconstructivism, Power as Dynamical System, Self-Censorship), Richard Feynman (Hieroglyphic Semiotic Deconstruction), Paul Erdos (Elegance in Simplicity), Albert Einstein (Relativity Theory, The Worldline), Ida Dupont (Participatory Action Research), Daniel Dennett (Dialectical Model of Consciousness through Time), Paul Dimaggio (Cultural Capital), Nicolaus Copernicus (The Copernican Principle), Auguste Comte (Sociology as the “Hardest” of all Sciences), Matthew Caws (Balancing the Human “Equation”), Joseph Campbell (Cross Cultural Mythological and Symbolic Syncretization and Synthesis), David Bohm (Material Interdependenc), Laszlo Barabasi (Mathematical Modeling of Social Networks), Aristotle (Categories), Archimedes (Heuristic Mathematical Approximation)