As I’ve becoming less and less interested in new music, podcasts have become an obsession of mine. I download around eight hours of podcasts a week, and I devour them. All of my favourite subjects – film, writing/screenwriting and boxing – are covered, and covered well.
One of the podcasts that has made an impact on me is the Bret Easton Ellis podcast. I recently revisited American Psycho for the first time since I first read it as a Tarantino-obsessed teenager, and it was completely different to how I remembered it, and so much better.
Recently episodes of Ellis’ podcast have been focused on what he calls ‘generation wuss’ (check out his amazing article for Vanity Fair for his full take) and it affected me deeply.
I’m from the generation that is benefitting from the leap in technology, but I lived on this planet for 19 years without the internet and a mobile phone, and 25 years without Facebook, Instagram and narcissism (sorry, I meant to write ‘selfies’). This means I am 25% sympathetic to this generation and their negative, snowflake behaviour, because I’ve witnessed its emergence first hand. The 75% wants them to grow a pair and turn their Wi-Fi off for a bit.
In my opinion (which is based on my own eyes and a lot of reading), social media isn’t to blame. There were snowflakes long before Facebook. Attention seekers, social justice warriors and dickheads, too. I was one of the latter. Still am.
Social media has just magnified the situation, and given these people a worldwide audience. Listening to Ellis’ interviews with Quentin Tarantino and – to an even larger extent – Eli Roth, it blew my mind just how far the snowflake generation will go to shut down something that ‘offends’ them, or ‘upsets’ them.
The news that there are colleges in America that allow students to opt out of reading books with provocative or upsetting material makes me extremely nervous for the next generation. How are these people going to deal with their first sacking? The first time somebody beats them to a promotion? Or, to a more extreme level, the next time ISIS decides to blow something up?
We are living in a world that is incredibly PC. Everyone is pussy-footing around, careful not to offend anyone. Even commenting on a Boxing News Facebook post will see you bombarded with abuse from people who can’t deal with a difference of opinion. If you don’t fall in line with some people’s narrative, you must be shutdown.
As a kid, I can remember wanting to be offended by films, books, TV and comedy. I wanted to be provoked, attacked (in the senses, not literally punched in the face) and entertained. Something happened and the new kids on the block don’t seem to feel the same.
What happened? It couldn’t have just been the internet. What’s happening at school? Is everyone awarded a medal now? I asked a schoolteacher friend that very question, and she shook her head and closed her eyes. That’s all she needed to do to tell me that generation wuss is being groomed in the classrooms. Her face read, “Don’t ask”.
It can’t be easy for this generation. As a teenager, I was obsessed with my looks and what people thought of me. I was desperate to be liked. If I’d been given the opportunity to put a photo up of myself as a 16-year-old and watch the number of Likes and positive comments shoot into the hundreds, I would’ve done it. I would’ve felt amazing. I also know that one bad comment would’ve ruined my fucking life.
I worry about this generation. I work in a college, and I meet some fantastic young people who are fun, energetic, smart as hell and hilariously stupid, as teenagers should be. I just hope that they – and the rest of this generation – can learn to take life’s bullshit on the chin without creating a Twitter campaign or hiding in a hole until it goes away.