And Now For Something Completely Different

And Now For Something Completely Different

By Tae Kim

 

View of Lake Chapala

As a Lakeside newcomer, I understand the standard array of questions lobbed at me in public. Except for the ones in Español, for I am not very well-versed in the language yet.

But the typical questions (in English) about where I am from, how long have I been here, how long will I stay…are surely a repeated occurrence for most newly acquainted folks.

However, the observation that most stands out is the inevitable comment on my age—neither condescendingly nor inappropriately, simply a remark about my youthfulness.

If there is an official statistic on the median age of Lakeside expatriates, then yes, I am surely well below that number. But it’s probably not good manners for me to say to anyone beyond that median age, “Wow! You are quite old.”

Yet somehow the converse is acceptable conversation, to which I usually smile politely and try to talk about how lovely the weather is. I imagine that the comment on my age is surface fodder for some deeper questions they hold. “What brings you Lakeside?” “What type of occupation do you hold?” “How have you decided at such an early age to leave where you hail from?” “Do you have an absentee ballot for the US Presidential elections?”

I’ve had a handful of these conversations so far, but mostly pleasantries about the weather.  When using broad categorizations to easily discriminate a group, I am a millennial.

At a recent LCS event discussing generational archetypes, the mere mention of “millennial” brought out an audible groan from the crowd. Of course, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and cellphone zombies are not shining beacons of generational ambassadors. Yet for every screaming tween fan of the Biebs, there’s some boomer housewife making sure they are Keeping up with the Kardashians or glued to Fox News.

And what about millennials that have so drastically changed the world already? Mark Zuckerberg, that nerdy billionaire whose social network so many of us use daily. Adele, who’s sold hundreds of millions of records and was an inescapable soundtrack to the year 2011. LeBron James? Roger Federer? Lin-Manuel Miranda?

I guess I simply don’t understand the generalized disdain for an entire generation.

Surely you’ve interacted with a few millennials, for better or worse. We are your sons and daughters, grandchildren, great nephews, and nieces. And we’re simply the by product of a society inherited to us from previous generations. Those that handed out our participation awards. The voices that told us we HAD to go to college. That debt was a necessary component of being an adult. That you needed to find a stable job with a good pension (they don’t have these anymore) so you can buy a nice home with a big green lawn and a two car garage. Whatever happened to the idea of Victory Gardens? I thought that was a nifty and nutritional concept.

Some of those voices said it was wrong for men to marry men. Or for a white woman to marry “outside her race.” Or that it was okay to smoke cigarettes. Guinness is good for you! God bless the Irish.

One big shift that’s hard to ignore is how we’re getting our information: once from a radio, then a television, and now the computers we carry in our pockets. Who the hell reads printed ink on dead trees anymore? You can’t blame those teenagers glued to their devices, because it’s the only world they know. And who made the decision to give a child access to ALL the world’s knowledge in the palm of their hands?

That’s a slippery slope, and typically a sign of lazy parenting. But I don’t have children, so I can’t point fingers. As with most cases of finger pointing, that outstretched index should probably be turned around, if not shoved into a nostril.

Because it is our own values, prejudices, and beliefs that have pushed this world into existence. And some of the loudest voices have pushed a little too hard to make sure their world view became the norm.

The greatest challenge of our generation will be figuring out which of the accepted values and beliefs we choose to advance, and which ones we collectively decide to abandon. Also, climate change, because that’s going to severely impact a lot of people, very quickly.

For now, I find myself at Lakeside, listening to Adele’s new hit single Hola, enjoying this lovely day.

Ojo Del Lago
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