"The Gradolescents"

david j. sperling BIO
speaking info


     Nothing.  Well, I suppose it seems nothing of any importance, that is.  The truth is that “GRADOLESCENTS” (those who’ve graduated from college or who are of such age yet seem to be delaying any sense of responsible adulthood), are in fact, lost.  If anything is on their minds, it’s most likely themselves. 

     The real concern regarding the culture of young America is that they don’t even realize they are lost.  Since the parents of this group abandoned accountability long ago, the map has been crumpled up and thrown away.  There is no one to lead.  The parents of this particular group are Capitalism, Commerce, and Consumption.  This type of broken family picnic of BIGGER/BETTER, ME/MORE, MY WAY/RIGHT NOW! occurs every day, at every meal for that matter.

     Now, the suggestion is not that life is at its worst for Gradolescents, (it’s rather contrary) or that the end is near, but as in any new generation, times have changed and the young minds of America have changed with them.  To say that Gradolescents are victims of their environment would be mis-leading.  They, like everything else in our nation, have become products.

     The American commerce machine has infected even the deepest core of the Gradolescent’s existence.  ACCESSORIZE!--is their war cry.  Every moment has an opportunity to be accessorized with a useless image-polishing trinket of some sort.  

     The reactionary blind acceptance of the mainstream media’s blitzkrieg of ‘news as entertainment’ fosters a false perspective that jolts individuals into believing that fame and celebrity carry importance.  This is the same importance that overshadows a savory nugget of trivia such as, “96,000 children died of starvation in the world today” with something monumental like “Paris Hilton just lost her dog on the Autobahn!”   

     Fame and celebrity drop their bait-laden nets into grade schools across the nation.  They prime the next generation of feeders, creating a mockery of the decision-making process of what is real and important.  Instead the Gradolescent’s precious energy is spent trying to decide what accessory goes with their crippled decision.

     This perverted sense of living even extends to the law.  These days, if you’re a criminal, you’ve found your fame.  You’re a full-blown celebrity.  Absurdly, everyone wants to be a criminal, but no one wants to commit a crime.  Certainly, doing your time is out of the question, it’s downright silly and works against your best interests as a fame seeker.  The fame factor gets a serious boost anytime a multi-million dollar attorney is part of the recipe.

     For the Gradolescents, life has become a mutated game of consumption.  Hundreds of young men form lines around the block and wait in line for hours on end to be swallowed by the broken angel of their vapid dreams.  These “Gang Bang” junkies take a number in what appears to be the hurricane-naming equivalent of porn starlets one-upping each other in the latest DVD to blow onto the video rack.  This surprises no one.  Portion control is a joke.  Super-sized meals extend to all of Gradolescents’ appetites; BIGGER-BETTER, ME-MORE, MY WAY/RIGHT NOW!

     There is a disenchanted acceptance that the future is something that will never arrive.  The demented hope of paying off credit cards and debt--gets pushed ahead as well.

     Instant gratification is honored, awarded and glorified.  It is fed.  Everybody wants to be fed but no one wants to eat.  The crushing hunger that drives the spirit is satiated in a drive to “appear and present”, but there is no real appetite.  It’s a shameful combination.  Sink or swim.  If someone sinks, blame someone else...And you’d better place the blame yesterday. 

     Emotions rule, thoughts are invisible.  Experts agree that one of the first steps in dealing with someone distraught in crisis is in helping them understand that their feelings are okay—they just do not have to act on them at this time and place.  This switch is broken.  Gradolescents are acting on their feelings without the sliver of a thought.  After all, what in the hell is a consequence, anyway?  Gradolescents are accountable to no one. 

     This is another reason the media wields so much power.  They’re masters at evoking emotion, yet they can only function if there is fear, because fear creates the victim.  Which explains why crime is dropping yet, reporting of crime is rising.  Stay tuned--you need us.  We’ll feed you.

     To confirm my suspicions, I sought out and asked a number of young Americans what was on their minds.  The answers I received were the same type of answers I would’ve expected from someone wobbling through high school; “Making money, lots of it.  Chillin’ and havin’ fun.  Tits.  The new Dodge.  Livin’ like a rock star, baby!”  I heard lots of BIGGER-BETTER, ME-MORE, MY WAY/RIGHT NOW! 

     Just when I was about to make a gross generalization and pretty much write off this demographic as horribly shallow, I met a 24 year-old girl I’ll call, “Jenn”.

It’s not important where I actually met Jenn but it needs to be mentioned that she was recently arrested for possession of a crack pipe.  I believe her response carried the most poignant depth.  I believe she spoke for her generation.  Whether what Jenn said is in fact on the minds of America’s youth or not—I believe it should be.  It should be on the minds of all of Americans, young or not.

     Jenn did not hesitate when I asked her.  She almost answered before I could finish my inquiry.  Flatly and obviously she spoke without embarrassment, “Getting sober”.  This is terrifically ironic, considering society views her as the least likely individual to offer any answer of any merit.  She’s a failure and she doesn’t count.  I disagree.

     Getting sober is a drink we should all take a swig of, and we should do it now.  We’re drunk on lies, consumption, fear and most of all, ourselves.  Some tough love and some critically overdue detox could go a long way in getting these Gradolescents, the youth of America, back on the map.

     Jenn’s about the only one I asked whose compass didn’t appear to be spinning nowhere.  Although the world would label her lost, she was not lost.  She knew where she was and she knew where she wants to go.  She’s felt, but now she’s thinking.  What’s on Jenn’s heart is her mind and what’s on Jenn’s mind, is her heart.  

     Life starts within and Jenn appears determined to find it.

                                                                                                        - David J. Sperling

                                                                                              March 2006

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