Have you ever wondered why there’s such clear epochs in history? It’s actually a little odd if you think about it. That most of the people in a particular era should have a dominant trend of thought seems odd. You’d think that people would go about life in their own way, making their own course. People would still have to work together. That would force an amount of conformity. But why, you might ask, do people tend to think in a similar way within an epoch?
Largely, the reason is this: they get similar ideas when they’re young. Epochs don’t need to last very long. Typically they are marked off with the change of generations. So for instance, the Boomer generation in America is markedly different than the X generation. And this even though the Boomers raised the Xers.
The main cause is different environments when they were young. The Boomers were raised in a very placid environment. This led to an amount of laxity, morally, mentally, and physically. This laxity began pulling on society, since the Boomers weren’t holding things up like past generations had done.
As such, when the Xers arrived, society wasn’t as stable or as helpful. They found themselves psychologically abandoned. There was little guidance on how to live. There was little guidance on what they should value. And so many of them went into life and tried to find out. Many were pounded the experience. Many live to this day as wrecks. They tend to chain smoke, drink too much, and don’t take care of themselves. They are also inclined to back quasi-religious political movements. Candidates with an evangelical flare appeal to this type. Even if the candidate isn’t personally an evangelical guy.
Quasi-religious candidates appeal because they give the Xers a sense of purpose. One reason many Xers smoke and drink is to drown out the pointlessness of their lives. Their parents, in many cases, dumped them on the world. And from this, many Xers have never found their footing. It’s incredibly difficult to get into life when you aren’t given any guidance. Some make it. Many don’t. This is why the, if you will, messianic candidate appeals to them. He gives them a sense of direction they’ve never had. He gives their lives a purpose they’ve never felt. Their lives have always had purpose. But they never felt it, because the Boomers never taught them to appreciate what they can do and what they mean in the world.
From all this, the Xers tend to be cynical and credulous at the same time. They doubt individual people. But they trust messianic candidates. They avoid and dislike anything better than them, because they feel their place in the world is so tenuous. They are afraid of competition, because never having felt the security of a stable, helpful home and society, they feel their lives ride upon their own abilities. Thus they fear other people outshining them and pushing them out of the, if you will, labor market of life.
I have noticed that many Xers act like grown up children. In a way this is true. Again, never having had a stable early life, they’ve never experienced the softer, more refined side of life. They’ve only experienced what they could experience in strength. Meaning anything that did not provide an oar to stay afloat with in life was thrown out of the boat. They gravitated to things that are strong in themselves, or that don’t require protection.
This is one reason why Xers tend to be hard-bitten people. Their nerves have never felt the cool, calming influence of refinement. They’ve never felt the tenderness of human sympathy. Their lives, frequently, have been spent trodding the gravel of human life. Their psychological feet have understandably been cut by the experience.
The reason for this is that, having to keep themselves afloat, they’ve had no time for anything refined. Only things that helped them live were pursued. As such, all those small mental nerve endings, if you will, have never been developed.
Thus the X generation, the inhabitants of the epoch spreading from the late 70s to about 2000, are defined by their youthful experience of abandonment. This does not spell out every last particle of their thought. But it does spell out the trend of their thought.
As noted briefly before, the Boomers lived in comparatively lush circumstances. Now, there’s no problem, civilizationally speaking, with lush circumstances. But they must be combined with duty. That is where the Boomer’s parents failed. They gave them many advantages for entering life. But they didn’t build their minds. They didn’t teach, and require, that they should be good, productive, and public minded. As such, many ended up spoiled. Being spoiled like that is what caused them to fail the X generation.
I’ll get to the millennials in a second. But I want to recount this very briefly first.
The Boomers are given material and social advantages, but no mental training. As such, many end up spoiled and selfish.
The Xers are given some material help, but little social help. They are more or less thrown into the world, and have to scrape by on their own. Many end up hard-bitten and crude in their tastes.
Now we come to the Millennials. Since many are being raised by battered, hard-bitten and crude parents, many end up completely lost. Some end up complete messes.
Their parents tend to be workaholics who don’t give them nearly the care they need. Additionally, the Xers tend to group together and ignore their children whenever they can. And finally, the acidic nature of many Xers turns their children away from them. As such, while the xers felt neglected and wronged by their parents, the Millennials often feel they don’t have parents at all. This abandonment is worse than the xers felt. This is why many Millennials look like wandering ghosts. The human heart yearns for parental companionship. When we don’t have it, we feel lost and abandoned.
Again, this highlights the life-guiding effect of youthful experiences. Not only are we more receptive when we’re young. We are also more helpless. As such, experiences that bit us when we were young have an outsized effect. This is because we are driven away from both them and the memory of our helplessness. We want to escape both the situation and our inability to deal with it.
Have you ever remember a time when you did something stupid that had a bad effect on your life? The bad effect probably causes a bit of regret. None of us likes to foul up our own lives. But most likely the stupidity of your action hurts more. Probably a lot more. This is because the memory of our actions, good and bad, usually has a bigger psychological effect than the memory of their results. In short, we’re more worried about how we look doing something, than we are with the action’s effect. Social considerations, in this case, have more weight than practical considerations. That’s yet another reason why youthful experiences have such an effect: we tend to be helpless to deal with our problems when we’re young.
Thus one of the main reason there are epochs is that our lives tend to be shaped by our youth. Since only a limited number of things are going on when we’re young, we tend to be defined by those specific things. Thus many Boomers are placid and unhurried. Many Xers are hard-bitten and cynical. And whilst Millennials havent had a chance to grow much yet, their course is somewhat predictable. They will most likely be the lost generation of the 21st century. They’ll wander too and fro in life. But it’s unlikely that they’ll ever permanently settle into a developed cast of mind. In short, their trend, will be to have no trend.