A talk through generations

Last night we sat around the table-all nine of us-and talked about the evolution of Iran’s new generation, what the teens today are deprived of, their relationship with the old generation. Sara said even those who are barely three years her junior have different interests than she does. She says they don’t talk about books or political matters, but rather what attracts them in guys, like the way a boy smokes his cigarette.
“This girl said to me once, ‘I just fell in love with the way he smoked!'”, Sara says and chuckles.
But that’s not all. The problem, according to most who talked last night, is that the new generation-at least in Iran-has no sense of value, no role model. They have no interest in the regime (we can’t blame them for that), no interest in what they learn in school (can’t blame them for that either), and no respect for their parents. Their source of information and interest for the most part is the internet, their chats, their instant text messages. This is how they communicate with each other and the rest of the world. Politics and books have become secondary (I don’t think we should generalize here), maybe even nonexistent.
And then Baba joined, demanding that the kids today are much too disrespectful of their elders, always online, chatting with their girl/boy friends, with no values.
N claimed that we can’t communicate with them because they all speak a different language. What was once taboo for his generation is no longer unspeakable for my generation. Talking about sex is not impossible anymore. Bringing your boy/girl friend into the house isn’t so unlikely.
Some of them agreed that the older generation had a cause, a revolution to fight or die for. There was value in newspapers and books and politics and art and intellectual discussions.
I wonder if the same thing isn’t partially true of America’s new generation. I was reminded of last year’s English class when our teacher demanded to know what would shock us, what would make us care or feel again. I feel that the same evolution is happening to teenagers in Iran. The world of technology is outgrowing everything else, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There will always be those who like to think, read and write, and there will be those who want to consume what the media and the internet feeds them. They are trapped in a country where everything is a contradiction. Even their parents are less trustworthy because they too no longer know what should matter. They’ve left a revolution of blood and secrecy and now it’s hard to teach their children. I don’t blame them. I also don’t want to use this as a way to excuse a kid’s lack of respect for his parents or his apathy and laziness.
In America we are dealing with the same thing. Last year, some of the kids believed that there is not much to care for because we have already been through a whole lot of things, an on-going war, terrorism, sniper attacks. We are not shocked because it’s become routine, it’s become the very thing that society feeds us and the media allows us to see. And as I’ve said before, it’s not like we don’t care about anything, for there is always something that we want to care for and get to. It’s that we care for different things. Maybe we’ve become a little more selfish because there’s been a shift in society’s definition of success. Maybe we care fore money more now, just like the kids in Iran, because money’s significance has increased, businesses want younger minds and no one, especially the younger generation who live off their parents’ money, wants to be poor.
I don’t know who is right or wrong, but I certainly don’t think that we don’t care about anything at all. Maybe we are not much into idealism; our goal isn’t so much saving the world and bringing change. In our reality, the world’s a bitch and demands that we become a little selfish, that we strive to be rich, with or without a degree, successful, a somebody. And whether we are in America, a country of so-called fame and happiness, or in Iran, it is important to make the most of the time we have. What we do in that time is subjective, a choice, influenced by the world around us.
Somehow we ended last night’s discussion- it was past midnight- and right before we drifted off to our sleeping locations, I said to my father, “good night older generation”, he laughed, amused.

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