We live with our parents, act more politely and abuse fewer drugs. Is this Generation Zzzz?

To be a rebel you need a society to rebel against - but we adore the hell-raisers

Share
Related Topics

Let me tell you what I got up to last Saturday night. At 8:30 pm - in front a roaring fire - I was plonked on a sofa with a glass of un-spiked red wine and a good book. And I was in Wales. As so often with seminal moments like this, it was only the morning after I realised – bingo! – some part of my youth had died.

Probably I should have seen it coming. The openness to “going on walks”. The heavily ironic talk of finding a Welsh drug-dealer. The puddings. All clear signs that what was sold as a ‘weekend getaway’ for friends might well turn out a one-way trip to planet boring.

Forgive me, but I’ve reason to overshare like this because - although a bunch of things make me an unrepresentative member of Britain's youth (not the least being I'm no longer really that young) -  it seems I'm not alone.

This week the Economist revealed that 16- to 24- year-olds are abusing less drugs, being more polite, and getting less pregnant than in previous decades.

In many real and important ways this is good news. But should you take “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” as the yardstick for self-expression, or even just a rollicking weekend, it also begs the question – are we getting dull prematurely? Will the class of 2012 go down in history as Generation Zzzz?

The Economist submits that austerity has shackled youthful spirits. Since fewer young people can afford to move out of their childhood home, there’s quite literally less space to experiment: it's hard to do tantra, or tranquilisers, with your parents watching Downton Abbey in the room next door.

But socio-economic factors aren't the only important ones here.

This generation knows the archetypal rebel icons –  those hula-hipped lovers from the 60s and 70s – mostly as fogeys, eulogised endlessly in TV documentaries and hardback biographies.

Even more recent incarnations like Oasis or eternal-6th-former Pete Doherty styled themselves throwbacks at the height of their notoriety.

To be a rebel you need a society to rebel against, a Man to kick in the nuts, and - as Doherty found - the figure of the drug-taking, hell-raising star isn't so much counter-cultural these days as a vital source of mainstream entertainment. (That singer’s passed out again? Wonderful! Google it pronto!).

Briefly, Tyler the Creator's rap collective Odd Future made rebellion work, giving parents Stateside a serious case of the willies. But who's next? Frankie Cocozza?

You could blame corporate forces. Nothing sells quite like a spritz of rebellion, and youth movements last hardly a moment these days before their stars are plucked by the advertising industry and plied with energy drinks and wristwatches.

Can youth strike back? Maybe. More likely the culture is evolving, away from a celebration of hedonism and towards less superficial thrills.

Or maybe I'm just missing out.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there