iPod people

The road to apathy is paved with good intentions

I must be getting old, because young people are starting to scare me.

They scare me because they are too wonderful.

Stepford kids. Too compliant. Too structured. Too willing to please Mom and Dad.

They scare me because they did not make a difference in this election, when, by all intents and purposes, they should have. Wake up, kids. This president may draft you.

Blame … us. We, the original baby boomers, the children of rebellion, the black hole of the generation gap, the ones who found our parents to be aliens and vice versa, apparently have overcompensated.

Seeking to seal the generation gap that they fell into, experimented in and somehow survived, boomers have become overprotective in their well-intentioned but overbearing quest for trophy kids. Known as “helicopter parents,” they hover over children, making sure that playtime is structured, that their world is safe.

Baby onboard. Don’t let him get bored.

To tell a kid to just go outside and play, especially without a pager or cell phone, is now tantamount to being neglectful.

Where’s the rebellion? Where’s the anger? The figuring out for one’s self? The “You’re grounded for a month”?

When I saw a group of overachieving “shadow boomer” college-bound kids on 60 Minutes insisting that their parents were their best friends, I just about dropped the remote. Question authority? Not when it drives you to soccer practice and piano lessons and pays your cell-phone bill.

Where are the protest anthems, the marches, the idiot behavior, the experimentation, the double albums of anger and alienation?

And when was the last time music made an impact? When parents and children both like the same acts, something is off.

I still have my worn vinyl copies of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and the Clash’s London Calling. Light years apart stylistically, both records celebrate their 25th anniversaries this year, and both sound as relevant as ever.

The Wall is an amazing compendium of angst, paranoia and alienation (“We don’t need no thought control”). London Calling, meanwhile, was the apex of punk’s short but fierce slap in the face (“London is drowning. And I live by the river”).

Man, those albums are angry.

Great stuff.

My parents, naturally, hated them.

Now, we have rock acts shilling iPods for pod people. Parents and kids can file-swap Dave Matthews and U2.

Don’t get me wrong. To raise a generation of college-bound, high-achieving best friends is certainly a lofty ideal (although it does make one wonder where the plumbers, electricians, artists, freethinkers and anarchists will come from).

But the silence of young people—perhaps too busy filling out grad-school applications or taking the LSAT—in the wake of this month’s presidential election was deafening.

Hope those cell phones and pagers reach Iraq.