Saturday, July 5, 2008

Oil Men

With oil approaching $150 a barrel, gas in the US around $4.50 a gallon, and oil companies reporting the largest profits in corporate history, I wonder if this is our reward for having a pair of oil men appointed to the White House. And why does no one remember Dick Cheney's energy task force, whose members he has never divulged to the public? I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but I have to wonder if this was planned all along.... Nah, forget that. Given this administration's inability to plan and execute effectively, they couldn't possibly have pulled off something like this....

The "Us" Generation

Remember the "me" generation? The self-indulgent tail of the Baby Boom generation? Then came "generation x", then "generation y" (for lack of a more imaginative label)....

Much has been made of the social nature of today's young generation. With younger kids on MySpace, older ones on Facebook, constant sharing of pictures, text messaging, videos, and so forth, this generation is assembling a shared experience like no other before it. This has its downsides, of course; parents and business-minded adults fret that the "kids today" are leaving a trail of cyberdroppings that will follow them into job interviews, lead to stalking and identity theft, and compromise their privacy in ways they can't imagine or appreciate until they're older.

I wonder if this is necessarily a bad thing. Today's adults, like all the ones who have come before, hide their shortcomings and hope that their friends, neighbors, and associates will believe them to be stronger, more principled, and more sensible than they probably really are. The line between public information and private places personal habits and preferences that may be controversial or unsavory well behind the privacy line.

Today's generation may not have the luxury, or perhaps the burden, of keeping all that personal stuff off limits, when so much of it is on YouTube, Juicy Campus, and their own social network profiles. Rather than leading to embarrassment, though, I wonder if this might instead promote a wider understanding of what it means to be human, with all its flaws and frailties. Perhaps the "us" generation will, in the end, be more tolerant of personal differences and less burdened by conformity.

And, what happens when the "us" generation meets "Big Brother"? What happens when the continuing proliferation of data mining, background checks, surveillance, and other tactics of a generation that hordes its own privacy yet seeks compromising information about others meets the openness of a new, more social generation? Perhaps the personal information that Big Brother covets like gold will be recognized by a new generation as nothing but fools gold.