Addendum to “Gen Y’s Curious Cultural Paranoia” (Part I)

Posted on January 2, 2010


Re: Original Article

PART I: Girls I Don’t Know.


This morning I received an e-mail from a girl I don’t know in response to my post from a couple days ago on a paranoia complex other Gen Y sources often neglect to point out.

All it said was:

“Reading your blog on Gen Y, I’m starting to wonder whether or not everyone is a little crazy.”

Emphasis added by yours truly. For much of history, diagnosis of mental illness was limited to the dissident, the dependent, and those unable to function. These days, kids have A.D.D. or O.C.D. or O.D.D. before they learn to walk. Everyone is a victim of their own minds. Make it to adulthood without a diagnosis? Don’t worry, they revise the DSM every so often (this year actually), they’ll find something for you sooner or later.

That same moment on another tab I had Myspace open. This girl I don’t know added me and I accepted, and I checked her page to see if she was just a bot. Her fried dyed mop of scenester hair, clown makeup, and post-hardcore lyrics tell me that no, she is not a bot. This girl I don’t know, I know her well in other forms; people I’ve met over the years going through one phase as they emerge from another, over and over again in an eternal aesthetic cyclone.

“I hate my fucking life. Everything before was good but now the only time I’m ever happy is when Im on myspace or txting friends.”

These are actual words on her actual page. A page unique to this one girl, this girl I don’t know, and yet at the same time a page no different from any other. Unique individual identities shaped by a set of shared interests. Everyone is different, and if you differ from that in any way, you can be damn certain they’ll cut you out of their circle in a New York minute.

This chick is nostalgic and she’s not even seventeen yet. At twenty-one the only real one-up I have on her as far as life experience goes is pissing, shitting, eating, crying, and whining. The five things I was good at by the time this chick was born. Also I liked to draw.

I thought about the e-mail girl and the Myspace girl, the girls I don’t know who if I got to know them I’d realize I already did. (“…a copy of a copy of a copy” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club) The teeth-chattering anxiety of our pampered digital youth – Not only are we paranoid, we’re disaffected. Affected by the effects of affects of alienation. In a world where we’re only a text message away from greeting our parents – our grandparents – our significant others, is it not possible that communication, our source of ambrosia, may also be the source of arsenic?

Of course, communications technology is not innately toxic or anything – Mobile usage, paging texting, and ubiquitous colonization of the Internet and social networking have really changed the way we communicate, for better or worse (most likely a bit of Column A + a bit of Column B). As someone not as tech-savvy as he should be at times, I say this with a firm indifference, as I cannot condone or condemn such mediums until I know as much as possible about them. That’s the problem. No one does. And yet most of us use these radioactive interactives on a basis of willy and nilly without fear of consequence, because hey, everyone uses them, so what’s the harm?

Everyone thought the earth was flat for centuries. In ancient society, everyone thought that mercury had curative properties of some sort. From 1930 to 2006, everyone thought that Pluto was a planet.

Everyone: “Because None Of Us Are As Dumb As All Of Us.”

Comedian Joe Rogan (former Fear Factor host) had a bit where he invited his audience to hypothetically picture a world where all of the world’s best and brightest were to suddenly with or without reason cease to exist. What would happen? At first, maybe nothing. Within a few hours, a lot of people would start to complain about all the tech support people not picking up the phone and then once the phones cut out we won’t be able to call or e-mail maintenance to complain. A couple hours, a few days, and we’d be fucked.

“Do you know how to make a battery? Because I sure as shit don’t,” Joe Rogan tells me.

I say that’s a pretty good point.* We think of batteries as being simple compact little fuel cells that power our lives in unlimited supply. Try assembling one from scratch and tell me you don’t feel retarded at the end of the day. That is, if you’re still alive from all the battery acid poisoning.

Joe Rogan, he hits the mic with his palm:

“What makes that make noise? Do you know? Do you?”


I haven’t got a clue.

* After all, humans have been around for little over 150,000 years or so, right? We just invented the electric lightbulb at the end of the 19th century. It took 150,000 years of evolution for us to get to building a lightbulb, and those things only have have like, what, six components? And yet my dumb cell-phone/laptop/GPS-conjoined ass couldn’t tell how you how. Yeah. No way either you or myself could build a battery without looking it up on Google. We would be fucked.