Introducing the iGeneration

2011-06-21 00:00

WHEW! This is a columnist's dream. No fewer than three important days to write about in one week.

Thursday was Youth Day. Sunday was Father's Day. And, according to my eight-year-old daughter (I'm not sure if she made this up), today is International Skateboarding Day. You don't have to look far to find a common theme.

The idea of labelling youth culture is not new, of course. Old folk love affixing etiquettes to young people. Before Generation X there was the Flower Power Generation in the United States, and before the Flower Power Generation there was the Beat Generation. In Britain, we had the Mods and the Rockers (remember them?), the Punk Generation, the football hooligans, and so forth.

So, what's happening now? Well, there's been a lot of talk over the past few years about the so-called Me Generation. If one can believe this generalisation (pun intended), the generation following in the footsteps of Generation X took all the best characteristics of their predecessors — ambition, self-confidence, and career-orientated focus — and warped them into a new set of characteristics that were utterly self-centred and superficial. I always suspected we were heading for global catastrophe once those little American beauty-pageant brats hit puberty.

It's not just the children in the U.S., unfortunately. Anyone who's read Dana Snyman's brilliant remake of the Rooikappie fable in SMS Afrikaans would know that the rot has spread everywhere. Even Julius Malema may be part of this.

Needless to say, not all the post-Generation-X youngsters are such spoilt, self-indulgent and shallow individuals. In fact, there is a generation of people growing up right now, under our noses, who are hellbent on taking the worst clichés of the Me Generation and, once again, turning them inside-out.

Alien creatures

Let's call them the iGeneration. The iGeneration is the generation of children who are still warming the seats of our primary school classrooms. Ask me, I know from first-hand experience. I have spawned two of these strange little alien creatures myself. They are a wonder to behold.

The iGeneration has role models like Kick Buttowski, Johnny Bravo, Hannah Montana and the Powerpuff Girls. That's just the positive stuff, though. Like other generations before them, they also have a dark side. I'm becoming afraid, very afraid, that these children will grow up utterly unable to tell the difference between 3D reality and the reality of their 3D Nintendo screens.

The universe these children live in is populated by strangely shaped monsters, space adventures and fantastic flights of the imagination. My son's best friend, for instance, is 12 years old, has his own Facebook profile and describes himself as a "professional hacker". Need I say more?

A different universe

The first time I realised that my children live in a different universe from mine was one night about two years ago when we made the fatal mistake of trying to feed them quiche for supper. Six-year-old Marleen took one bite, pulled a face, and asked: "What's this stuff?"

"It's called quiche," said my wife proudly.

Her instant response: "Quiche? Quiche, my ass!"

Of course, we had to punish her for being rude. From that day, we decided to cut down the children's TV-watching time to within more reasonable limits. Even iGeneration members need boundaries.

If we, as parents, manage this new generation right, however, and if they happen to pick up some basic common sense and good manners on the way, they might just become the most innovative, original-thinking, special generation of young geniuses this world has seen.

If you ask me, that's exactly the kind of future leaders we need in an age of global warming, natural disaster and economic meltdown.

Happy Skateboarding Day to you, too! — News24.

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