Entitlement Kids

Posted: March 6, 2011 in Advertising, Blogosphere, Consumerism, Culture, Education, Tacky, Technophilia

Not sure what the creators of this video were thinking:

The creators say at the source website that is was “originally created for an industry conference and as a promotional video to stimulate discussion within the marketing industry. It aimed to made [sic] projections on what the media landscape could be like in ten years based on what we are seeing now.” They also admit they got it wrong, but I suspect that the strong negative reaction may actually be because they got it unwittingly and disquietingly right. The kids in the video are clearly on script and articulate a viewpoint far more cogently than a typical teenager could, but the desires expressed are consistent with what most of us seem to want: tight integration of our social, consumer, and technological worlds. The mistake was casting those desires as an overt threat rather than a blind demographic wave.

The last such wave was arguably the counter-culture of the 1960s, fueled by baby boomers entering adulthood and demanding their appetites be sated. If those appetites ran early on toward social justice, sexual fulfillment, and creative expression, boomers eventually aged, married, started families, and shifted to more conventional targets, mostly careers, home, and hearth. The counter-culture that had rebelled against The Man became The Establishment. This is the way of things, of course, as people progress through stages of life, but the lingering sense of self-betrayal felt by boomers still stings.

The new demographic wave, what I think of as entitlement kids (many of them now already adults, at least in age), results less from a population bulge than from conversion of an entire generation to a lifestyle characterized by omnipresent connectivity. They don’t yet recognize that their minds have been colonized by makers of shiny electronics, much like counter-culture dissent was commodified, repackaged, and sold back to dissenters. Since current youth has imbibed from birth the empty promises of technophilia, they scarcely recognize alternatives and are in fact leading the blind, furious charge into a poorly charted and dimly understood future. In short, they are the gaping maw of humanity, demanding to be fed not gruel but ambrosia.

But the demand isn’t just to have appetites sated anymore; it’s to completely reengineer society in terms of our electronic devices, and the overt threat is that failure to do so means replacement destruction of the parent by the child. The threat is real, of course, and the mistake made by the creators of the video was to recognize it and tell the truth, which is that youth do not yet possess the resources, know-how, and power to reshape the world according to their infantile desires but will soon enough take up those reins and drive their parents into the grave.

  1. Jennie says:

    I absolutely agree and know many kids who are like this even though they are teenage and young adult age. It’s terrible.

  2. motorola says:

    What do you mean by the destruction of the parent by the child?

    • Brutus says:

      I’m not sure what’s unclear. The kids in the video are demanding that their open maws be supplied an as yet nonexistent, fully immersive, engineered reality served by “smart” devices being built into everything. The phone was the start, but the idea of jacking everything into a seamless user interface that will satisfy omnivorous appetites for information, connectivity, and control are direction everything is pointed. And because youth take to such interfaces more quickly, fully, and intuitively, older generations will be left behind and/or actively bypassed. Anything and everything traditional or established will be swept aside and made irrelevant as new design and engineering obligates everything and everyone to change or die.

      This is the underlying message as well coming out of Silicon Valley, as profiled in Harper’s:


      There is a double meaning to “if you want to live”: could be either (1) if you want to survive rather than die or (2) if you want to have a truly engaged life. Could be both at the same time, actually.

      • motorola says:

        Thank you for the clarification. I couldn’t get past the paywall and will have to see if I can get a hold of a copy.
        I don’t see why parents can’t see what’s going on, what’s being lost in this great rush to hypertechnologize. Can’t they see the potential damage such early immersion in this stuff can do to a developing brain? It looks to herald the end of compassion, empathy, and even personality.

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