At the risk of sounding like old fogeys from a generation past, some of this generation of young people is repulsive to observe.
This is not an all-inclusive statement with regard to every twenty-something person (or sometimes older) and every teenager. Those that are repulsive appear so because they behave, dress, and treat others in a way that suggests they loathe themselves. They behave as if they are immature and irresponsible far beyond their years. They dress in a fashion that mimics homeless streetpersons, gangsta criminals, or Marilyn Manson androgyny, complete with the multiple tattoos and body piercings. They treat others as if respect is not even a human issue.
In the physical sense, self-loathing is expressed most publicly and unequivocally through bodily mutilation. Multiple facial (and other) piercings and tattoos are an unmistakable statement — "I'm not good enough as is." Though the young people usually claim they're expressing their individuality, it's always group membership they're hoping to garner. In reality, this is the epitome of collectivist thought.
Recently, while watching Dennis Rodman as a guest on an ESPN sports show, it was overwhelming to look at the two massive lip rings, the huge nose ring, and the multiple ear piercings and tattoos. And this is a man who has publicly stated that he doesn't like himself very much.
Aside from physical self-mutilation, social behavioral signals indicate self-loathing. Upper middle class boys buy vehicles and lower the suspensions (one of the funniest is the Plymouth Neon Lowrider), paste on $2 welded-chain license-plate frames, and install giant stereos merely to make rap-music booming sounds as loud as possible. They are trying to tell the world that they really belong to the "gang" culture. Both black and white boys do this, and even some girls do it. In effect, they're trying to identify with the culture of some of the worst predatory dregs of our society. That someone with a presumably bright future would do this suggests immense dissatisfaction with himself, his social standing, and his direction in life.
Go into almost any suburban Coney Island late into the night, and you're sure to find a bevy of the Marilyn Manson Gothic crowd, all painted up in black make-up, nail polish, and hair, and wearing clothes full of holes, complete with the dog collar and leash. And this is sign of "individualism"? Or you may see the "Baggy-pants" crowd of white kids that look, dress, and talk like blacks, though they have no true conception of black culture. The only black culture they recognize is the MTV gangsta rap set of hoodlums they see on tv.
The self-loathers listen to creep music, and the more detestable it is for the rest of us, the more they like it. If it reeks of suicide, rape, drugs, or hatred for materialism, it's all good and well. If the performers throw vomit or feces on the crowd, that's even better. After all, they believe they are staunch individualists, and the rest of the consumer masses are just out of touch with their "art".
I've had these twenty-somethings tell me that it's all just a generation gap problem; that our grandparents had "wild" big band music, our parents had Sinatra and Como, we had our rock and roll fashion, and now it's their turn to have their own identity, and it is all a matter of taste.
However, they're expounding relativism and forgetting that there is an objective reality that exists, independent of "personal taste" and subjective generation gap stuff. This creep music is — in the objective sense — in bad taste and of bad mind. The justification for such bad music is always "anger toward the system", which is bullroar. How about Beethoven and Bach, or Benny Goodman? Were they just "not angry" at anything? Were their lives and times perfect?
Most of those making and buying this creep music are egalitarian loving leftists who purport to loathe the "establishment". But at the same time, they clamor for more and more of the government's handouts, statism, regulation, and subsidized lifestyles. Most of them stand in support of collective multiculturalism and political correctness. Much of the MTV generation is enamoured of collectivist ideals, and any big government that benefits THEM. Gangsta rap and its proponents are one great example. The only anger these people hold is toward the taxpayer-supported government that doesn't give them and their ilk enough of our hard-earned money and goodies.
There may be multiple causes for the self-loathing this generation expresses, but the most obvious would be cultural leftism and government nannying. Political correctness, cultural relativism, feminism, the smear of religion, and absolute equality are all norms of the modern liberal society. These norms have compelled youth toward the mindset of serving the State and its collective purposes instead of embarking upon their own system of goals and accomplishments.
Then there's the castration of patriarchy as the standard for family rearing. After all, the collective thought process of Hillary's village has come to replace the sovereign family. In poor neighborhoods, government guarantees of a check and benefits for any mother who can't name the father of her child have destroyed the family. The absence of a strong and disciplined father figure has caused more damage than we'll ever be able to measure, and we can thank government social programs for starting the cycle. Among many of the remaining families, powerful and unaccountable government family agencies have made parents afraid to discipline their own children.
The government nipple also includes the monopoly of its schools over the lives of our children. School taxes are extracted from the working person to make sure that these contaminated centers masquerading as educational facilities are fully funded. Therefore, the average parent can't conceive of a life without this "free" education. So typically, the most important building block of a child's life — intellectual development — is left in the hands of the State.
Within these government schools, self-esteem teaching has replaced physics and literature. Pats on the back and "honor student" bumper stickers for anyone who can read by age 9 have replaced genuine academic achievement. Thus, today's kids are unaware that self-esteem is achieved properly through objective self-evaluation — through success in surmounting known, measurable obstacles; through knowing on their own when they have accomplished something praiseworthy.
Instinctively, these young people must realize that most of what passes for their own self-esteem has been artificially induced by moronic and patronizing government teachers, so they try to achieve it in other ways. Many have found it's easier to achieve a feeling of self-worth by joining a group whose membership requirement is sitting for a tattoo as vs. really learning calculus or U.S. history.
What we're given by today's schools, and by many parents raised on the State Nipple, is a generation which believes that the government needs to intervene in economic affairs for the good of the environment and the poor; that corporations, and anyone who works hard to gain financial success, are evil; that "freedom" exists as long as people can choose irresponsible, amoral self-indulgence, and as long as they can vote as a mob to increase the size of government and its guarantee that their material needs will be met without effort on their own part.
The contradictions this generation fails to perceive would immobilize a thinking person. They begin by believing that individuality won through a unique tattoo overrides the fact that the tattoo was embraced merely to belong to a collective. They continue by believing that freedom exists where mobs can use government to satisfy the public whim of the day.
Note that there are young folks who have traditional values and smart priorities. Occasionally you'll hear of a religious group whose teenagers have taken some sort of informal vow to remain virgins until marriage, or not to drink alcohol, or something similar. Whenever this happens, the national news media are on the scene, and commentators subtly indicate that such people are anachronistic freaks. They're labeled "ultra-religious," "ultra-conservative," and anything else that suggests other teenagers should not be like them.
Understand that the whole notion of a "youth culture" is only a 20th-century concept. The cultural liberalism of this century has ushered in an era of group rights, group identity, and group feelings. Therefore, the State creation of a special youth culture based on collective behaviors made children more independent from their parents, and fostered an identity crisis that found our youth as intellectual wards of the State.
Some of this youth culture is just a diseased, pseudo-individualism they will define as individualism as they deconstruct culture to suit their own exigencies. Multiple tattooing, body piercing, and suicidal, sick music are the signs of great self-loathing and self-destruction. That is objective reality.
November 3, 2001
Karen De Coster, CPA, [send her mail] is a freelance writer and graduate student in economics, and works as a business consultant in the Midwest.
Brad Edmonds [send him mail], MS in Industrial Psychology, Doctor of Musical Arts, is a banker in Alabama.
Copyright © 2001 Karen De Coster