Henry Aubin on Us Damn Kids

The Age of Facebook Has Ruined Us: Poll

Graphic Olivia Mew

Seasoned Gazette columnist Henry Aubin wrote an opinions piece on Jan. 22, tackling the “self-absorbed, less caring Canada of the future” by outlining the findings from a seriously stacked poll.

Talkin’ ‘bout our generation—us 16 to 29-year-olds—the poll found that 47 per cent of us Canadian youth believe an ideal society rewards individual performance, 54 per cent of us want to earn “a lot” of money, 71 per cent don’t want babies and 62 per cent of us say the lowest possible taxes are more important than social benefits.

Also—shocking!—44 per cent of us say we’re not ready to pay for the Boomers’ increasing social and healthcare costs.

What is to be concluded from this, apparently, is that our generation will be responsible for a narcissistic, childless future. This finding conveniently coincides with “the popularity of social networks such as Facebook, with their culture of self,” according to an American “empathy” researcher.

As one of the youths in question, there’s nothing quite like a bunch of partial percentage points paraded as fact by Boomers about how superior their generation was to ours to make you want to stick it to the proverbial (old) man.

I mean, though it may be easy to blame Facebook for the ills of our generation, the context of Canada within the study (and the subsequent opinions piece) seems to be totally lacking. How and why has this happened, Henry? Who raised us with these values?

Though he admits that our generation may lack the money to pay down the Canadian social safety net, due in part to the huge public debt that the “old folks helped rack up,” this point was presented in parentheses, so let’s be clear : our generation is pretty screwed financially—largely because of yours.

How are we expected to enact social change, volunteer to compensate for the cutbacks in health and social services—and feed our hypothetical babies—in today’s world? Statistics indicate that the average student debt is $20,000 and the average income of 16- to 29-year-olds is well under $30,000. Don’t even get me started on the job market.

It seems worth mentioning that, in the poll 32,714 youth were surveyed, versus 7,400 people aged 30 to 50, which is quite the disparity. Also, there was only an eight per cent difference between the oldies and younglings who believe primarily in individualism.

Even worse, this opinions piece totally negated the huge number of us youth that genuinely want and are working towards a better future in this country—and Facebook can be used as an amazing tool for organizing, activism and volunteering.

Finally, it seems contradictory that the generation that gave us nine years of Brian Mulroney and five years of Stephen Harper are claiming that we’re the ones less committed to the greater social good.

Opinions pieces on youth, without the youth perspective, do nothing to close the chasm that has become the generation gap.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 20, published January 25, 2011.