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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Last week, The Atlantic published a video titled, "What Will This Era Be Remembered For?" as one part of a series of videos covering last month’s Washington Ideas Forum 2015. In the video, policy leaders such as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro responded to the question by expressing hope that their respective areas of political interest would undergo meaningful progress.

Being college students, that most selfish and self-absorbed breed of person, we read the same question and came up with a different interpretation of the inquiry: "What Kind Of Person Will This Era Be Remembered For?"

As any student of pop culture could tell you, different decades breed different blends of young people. The ‘50s gave us Allen Ginsbergs and Jack Kerouacs, but it also birthed more "Ron Howard in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’" types than we’re comfortable with. The ‘60s had hippies, and the ‘70s carried the torch of the counterculture movement before the materialism and selfishness of Reagan-Era ‘80s kids put a firm stop to that. Young men and women of the ‘90s have been referred to as "slackers" for quite some time now, and we’re too close to the aughts to make any definitive statements on that lovely bunch.

Which brings us here: What attitudes, characteristics and actions are going to define us, the future hags and cranks of the mid-21st century who came of age in the ‘10s? Keeping in mind both Halloween and recent local events, one need look no further than the Florida-Georgia game and Fest 14 in order to conjure some vague definition of what is going to define us.

There is no disputing that when movies are going to be made about the ‘10s, you’re going to see a lot of high-waisted shorts, groomed beards and people deliberately ignoring the world around them in order to be on their phones: These are non-negotiable certainties. But as far as the more subtle stuff goes — the attitudes, firmly held beliefs and slang — that’s slightly trickier.

We live in a time of polarization. You’re either a filthy commie-pinko lefty, or a staunch, racist conservative. You’re either a monstrous misogynist of a frat bro, or a hypocritical elitist of a "hipster." If John Hughes’ movies or "Dazed and Confused" taught us anything, it’s even the unlikeliest of people can become friends. Forgive us if we’re being cynical, but we somehow doubt you would have seen a single Ralph Lauren-adorned bro at Lot 10 on Saturday, or a tattooed, bearded gentleman rocking a No Idea Records T-shirt in Jacksonville this past weekend.

Without becoming yet another technology-skeptical editorial, by plugging in, we exist in self-perpetuating bubbles that reinforce our preconceived notions about the world. The ‘10s have been marked by hostility and debates over the merits or lack thereof as it pertains to different subcultures. But have we ever tried, you know, being decent to one another? The dude brandishing a Morrissey tee doesn’t have to love football, but he doesn’t have to think lesser of those that do. Likewise, it would be nice for one to be able to walk through Midtown on a Friday night without fear of being called a "faggot" for wearing nail polish or something not traditionally masculine.

It’s pretty goddamn simple. Rather than be defined by our differences, let’s try being defined by mutual respect and — gasp — humanity.

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