Little Larry at work is somewhere between 22 and 28. He grew up in a mining town in North Ontario; nice guy, likeable. And he is, in my opinion, a pathetic example of his generation.
He has chronic back problems, apparently some rare muscle contraction problem that in fact is aggravated by almost every treatment applied to back problems in this modern era. This I know because it's the kind of thing guys discuss at work, and while I didn't expect the full history, it's within the bounds of reasonable workplace conversation. However ...
He has psychological problems, which include panic attacks. I know this because he casually mentioned it one day, following the fact-drop with the words:
"Yeah man, I got a lot of issues."
Call me crazy ... no, call him
crazy, and perhaps it's just a wee bit old-fashioned of me, but I rank people who tell me their psychoses in a casual work situation alongside people who lovingly describe their bowel movements to me. It's your $#!7, you deal with it. Don't involve me.
We play a little poker for free, but he also plays online and at the casino. And always claims to be winning. £µ¢λing always
. I find that immensely suspicious. Possibly I'm just jealous 'cos I'm not as good a player as he is? Except that the past few weeks I find I've still got a chip and a chair while he's heading out the door. Last week he went from the free game to the casino, where I watched him lose $100 in under an hour. Then he went to the casino bank machine and got another hundred.
I left at that point. Next day he said to me:
"You shoulda stuck around. You woulda seen a terrific comeback".
He believes conspiracy theories. He's not alone. It seems like all the 20-somethings at work believe, for example, that the September 11th attacks were somehow orchestrated for the benefit of forces invisible, but suspected to be the US government. The water-powered car was bought up and suppressed by GM or the US government or ... But of course he can't defend his paranoia. It just makes him feel he's got one up on the rest of the world--he's so smart he can see stuff the rest of us can't. And yet ...
Today he raised his head from his cubicle and said:
"Nunavut--that's a Canadian province?"
Thunderstounded, I said:
"Uh ... yeah."
"Oh ... how long's it been like that?"
"About a decade ... ?"
I was wrong. It's been eight years--fifteen since the boundaries were first drawn. How self-absorbed do you have to be to not have noticed that
? Surely the lad had geography somewhere in school? Possibly ten years ago, I'll grant you. But still--the creation of a whole new £µ¢λing Territory passed him by?
Presumably he was too busy watching Survivor
A recent study found that today's college kids are the most self-absorbed, narcissistic
generation ever. Forget "Talkin' 'Bout My Generation". These guys are the "talk all about me" generation.
They're totally unplugged from the wider world. As the world becomes more interconnected, it seems they're losing the things that make that interconnectedness meaningful. Critical thinking, moral judgement, political savvy--all gone in the rush to "peer connections" through media.
Television, iPods, YouTube--these are the things their identities and knowledge universes are based on, it seems.
Oh--and presumably bleating away on their "blogs".