I had a long discussion-maybe let’s call it a debate-with my offspring recently about how the distance between their generation and my generation is so close, compared to the distance between my generation and my parents, that they probably can’t really shock me.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s some stuff going on with Millenials that I find not so much shocking as just kind of “Why?”…things like that donut head thing, (and yes, on Wikipedia it is referred to as “Bagel Head” but given it’s Canadian roots, I will always think of it as “Donut Head”) or even spacers which kind of gross me out. But culturally, we are so very similar.
I watched Scooby Doo, they watched Scooby Doo. We all love the Ramones. You are as likely to see a 50 year old with pink hair and sleeve tatoos as you are a 20 year old in our neighbourhood. And let me be clear: hennaing my hair shocked my parents.
I blame the internet in many respects; I think a large part of internet culture, meme culture is about replaying and reliving the era that came just before the Millenials were born. Sarah Bunting talks about it in her article, and we see it all over Youtube. Cult culture isn’t new but the breadth of cultural artifacts from the 80’s now available online is, and as Bunting points out, the reuse of those “artifacts” (read: actors) is a clever way to capture a new generation of television viewers.
So can gen exer’s ever be shocked by their Millenial offspring? I’m sure we can, and in fact I hope so. Thinking up things to distance yourself from your parents generation is what growing up is all about. And maybe my parents generation was, at the heart of it, shocked by difference. Maybe the Millenials will shock us by simply not being shocked by difference.