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Generations Lost and Lonely

A thought piece on the various Generations

Updated

By Kerry Tinga

Gen

Warning: In the first few paragraphs is a major spoiler for the original Gossip Girl television series (2007 – 2012).

An HBO Gossip Girl reboot is in the works, bringing the late 2000s teen drama from blogs and flip phones to social media and beyond. A lot has developed in less than a decade in terms of technology and communication, the political and social atmosphere, and the profiles of the youth.

The new students at Constance Billard and St Jude’s are no longer Millennials but are, instead, digital native Gen Z-ers. What does that mean for the show?

Spotted: Lonely Boys and Girls. Plural.

In the palm of his or her hand, every young person today could be a Dan Humphries (Penn Badgley), a.k.a. Lonely Boy, a.k.a. Gossip Girl. The original outsider of Manhattan’s Upper East Side elite, who is revealed at the end of the series to have started the Gossip Girl blog to essentially write himself into their world because of his love (if it could be so called) for It Girl Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively).

gossip-girl-rebootGossip Girl reboot, photo by Warner Bros.

In the Gossip Girl blog he gave himself the nickname Lonely Boy, reflecting that he was the shy and romantic (stalker) outsider unsure of where he belonged.

Now every young person has a social media presence through a blog or an account on a platform like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Tik Tok or what have you. They post about themselves, or even about others, and compare their lives subconsciously. Beyond that, the internet has enabled news from all around the world to be uploaded and accessed. The world feels smaller and smaller, yet Gen Zers takes to social media to say that they feel like they are the loneliest generation.

Filipino generation identification began to align with the west ironically after we were granted independence from the US following the end of the Second World War. We typically start with Baby Boomers and do not refer to our ancestors before them as being part of any specific generation.

To understand the Lonely Generation, however, one generation of the West we may look to is the Lost Generation—their melancholy and dejection forever immortalized in literary works such as Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. They were the first generation to grow up after the turn of the 19th century, the Gilded Age. They were brought up alongside rapid industrialization and urbanization that formed the basis of most global, western economies of the 20th century, which the Philippines followed.

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Coming of age at this transition, they were disillusioned with the values and rules they were brought up with because they did not apply to this new world, lost with no direction in life because there was no clear precedent they could look to.

So they rebelled culturally in the Roaring Twenties in the west, through jazz music and growing voices, shorter dresses, and social change—the changing role of women, the growing public visibility of homosexuality, the rise in labor unions, all laying the foundation for major social upheavals of the century. These lost youth came together.

Now, Gen Zers are the first generation to grow up after the turn of the 20th century, the Information Age, a shift from the traditional enterprises and economies set up from the Gilded Age, brought up alongside the widespread use of the internet and the digitalization of major industries.

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It is arguable that the youth of today are disillusioned with the values and rules they were brought up with believing they do not apply in this new world. Retorts such as “Okay, Boomer” amplify this divide between them and their elders, a way of saying, “Pfft—You do not understand.”

The lonely youth come together online through social forums and media, or in person at protests and school walkouts that undoubtedly lay the foundations for what will be this century’s major social revolutions.

The Gilded Age brought unparalleled disruption through mass industrialization, unparalleled until the Information Age, and the mass adoption of the internet—the disturbance of global enterprises and economies, social upheaval brought about not simply by new technologies but by what is almost like a new dimension to technology that has alarming ramifications for how we set up enterprises and essentially the global economy.

I think we are lonely because we feel that nobody understands us. We cannot even truly understand each other because we are all figuring out this new world we live in. Our growing pains are the global growing pains adjusting to present-day circumstances and technologies. Talk about your Bildungsroman.

The only people who may have understood our Lonely Generation is now extinct, the last known person of the Lost Generation cohort having passed away early last year.

And how should we cope with this loneliness? Only time will tell.

xoxo Your Girl Friday.

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