When I started writing this piece, I stumbled upon the following quote:
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint”.
The quote, allegedly attributed to ancient Greek poet Hesiod, seemed to be a brilliant start for an article discussing youth and what I think is the inaccuracy of a concept like generational linearity in modern society. And, in fact, for a couple of weeks I kept on polishing this introduction until I found out that the quote was actually misattributed to Hesiod and there’s no evidence of him saying that. Furthermore, there’s not even a certain source to link the quote to. So basically, it’s crap.
However here I am, quarantined in my house in Southern Italy reflecting on the relationship between generations and youth and how this relates to the current issues in the creative industries. The question is: do we want the new generation to ‘fit in’? Or it’s time to free ourself from the framework of generations and persecute an ageless youth?
In a world where the single’s personality abdicates in favor of a collective behavior, belonging to a generation seems to be an inescapable truth: “It’s not you, it’s your whole generation.” Never as today responsibility for generational behavior is at its max. Politicians, corporations and, ultimately, advertising agencies keep quietly inventing new generations on demand, as the current liquid state of life brings distress, anxiety and fear to people who lack of anything that is fixed, ‘solid’ or durable. We change jobs, partners, political views and sexual orientation, and generations are there to set the status-quo within an industry who has a peculiar fetish for predictability. Yes, because companies use generations as a ready-made focus group to outline the possible behavior and needs of their next customer.
In such a scenario, the assertion of individuality as a rite of passage has been fucked up by generational branding : Gen X, Y, Z are mere labels at the disposal of corporations who use them to…