I finally finished the NYT article on irony that was going around last week.
There is a lot there to think about but the part that really interested me is,
“How did this happen? It stems in part from the belief that this generation has little to offer in terms of culture, that everything has already been done”
I don’t disagree that the feeling is there because it is an old axiom we all accept. “Do I have new stories to tell? New photos to create or art to make? Probably not, ho hum.”
But culture is not just the art or style we create. It is also how we communicate, what we fill our day with, and the community we create. In the last few decades technology has changed what we can imagine and how we communicate so fast we can barely keep up with it. Facebook, Twitter, Jeggings, Kickstarter, Pinterest, smartphones, iBeg (a game about being homeless to help raise awareness), Creative Commons, dubstep. All of these come with questions of how to make them part of our life. How do we best use Facebook to communicate with our loved ones? What privacy protections will we accept from social networks and our government? What is the etiquette for checking your text messages at the dinner with family or on a date? We don’t have a set of cultural norms we all agree on for using these new tools yet, but we are all working to figure out what they will be. We talk to friends about frustrations with Facebook. Ignore calls when we prefer texts. (Except from grandma who doesn’t get it.)
The everyday how-to of defining this may not be all that exciting, but in figuring out how it fits in our lives we’re asking questions, interpreting it, and building on top of it we are creating lots that is new. We aren’t making new colors. But we are using colors in ways that no one has ever seen before.
This generation has lots of new to bring to the world and a huge opportunity to shape culture. Regardless of if we’re using irony I think it’s stepping up to the plate and I only hope we realize it. The truth of that old axiom seems incongruous with the time we’re living in because it is.