The world we've inherited is rotten, and it's getting rottener. We are living in the twilight of a world order on the brink of economic, ecological and ethical collapse. We are the last generation who will live in this version of the world.


So, one thing first:

All generations shit on the generations that came after them, and all generations shit on the generations that came before them. We're all obligated to pay lip service to the crew that fought WWII, but that's mostly knee-jerk "respect your elders" shit. They also raised the punks that became the 'boomers who destroyed the economy and committed more war crimes and abominations than anyone else in history. Holocaust? Greatest Generation. Rape of Nanking? Greatest Generation. The kids are all right. They really are.

Ahem. That said...

    The following was adapted from a commencement speech delivered to the Independent Concentrators of Brown University at their diploma ceremony on Sunday, May 25, 2014, in Providence, Rhode Island. Miriam Markowitz is deputy literary editor of The Nation.

I read most of this first before I bothered to look back at what, exactly it was. There's a little too much egocentricity to the writing; a little too much "we are the champions my friends" to it all. And yeah, sure, it's a college graduation speech. That's part and parcel. But comparing yourself to Moses and Gen Y to the Israelites in Egypt is... well, kind of a new high in low.

But sure, okay, hyperbole. Rally the crowd. Except what the hell is an "Independent Concentrator?"

So let's say you've managed to swing a $62k a year Ivy-league education. Good on you, mate. You may very well end up with some of the archetypal GenY gripes about unemployment and underutilization and god help you if you put it all on student loans. A Brown degree counts for shit-tons more than one from the University of Phoenix, regardless of what it is. "Independent Concentration" sounds suspiciously like Applied Guruism but as it turns out, it means "roll your own major."

I'm an old fart. I graduated in '99. Back then, I knew one person who rolled-their-own major... and it was in web design. So I can see the utility in doing it. That said, she didn't exactly have a lot of company. Any guesses as to how many "independent concentrators" graduated in 2014?


Normally, one person delivering a speech to 17 others doesn't make news. But then, it's the age of the Internet where if one of them is "deputy literary editor" it sure could. So while the actual event where a 32-year-old junior editor delivered a 3700-word speech to 17 people whose degrees range from "Comtemplative(sp) Cognition" to "Narratology(?)" was likely a cringe-worthy affair, it can be polished and rebranded and made to appear as wisdom.

And that is why everyone hates GenY. This is literally the manifesto of a room full of trust fund kids bitching about how they have it rough and it's being presented as grand oration at a noteworthy event. There are AA meetings with more people in attendance and at least the Bilderberg Group doesn't pretend they've got street cred.

So good luck, class of 2014. Yes, you got the shaft. But we took our licks, too and then we invented the Internet. The gracious thing is to say nothing and prove everybody wrong, not compare yourself to Moses in a room filled with 17 of the Toniest "jews" in Rhode Island.

posted by camarillobrillo: 1662 days ago