I am writing a blog series on turning postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples. Today, let’s take a snapshot view of the postmodern youth culture in America.
The following is taken from my observations of Christian teens and with a little help from some research by Purdue University.
Historians generally place the beginning of the postmodern era in America at 1945. The characteristics of this era are as follows.
There has been a breakdown of cultural forms. Everyone is coloring outside the lines. Although the average teen is “retro” when it comes to fashion and style, they reject the grand narratives that have made America great. Youth reject that America was founded as a Christian nation, American exceptionalism, capitalism and free enterprise.
America is becoming an oral society. According to Purdue University, literacy rates had been rising steadily from the introduction of print through the modern period. Postmodern society has seen a drastic reversal in this trend as more and more people are now functionally illiterate, relying instead on an influx of oral media sources: tv, film, radio, etc…
This culture still very much relies on print to create media outlets; however, it is increasingly only a professional, well-educated class that has access to full print and computer literacy. An increasing percentage of the population merely ingests, orally, the media that is being produced.
Due to these factors, young people are visual and temporal. They have lost all connection to reality and history. This may help to explain why they are so fascinated with reality television. Pop culture keeps coming back to the idea that the line separating reality and representation has broken down. The movie, The Matrix, is a prime example of this.
Young people have a deep desire for individualism, yet they have a strange comfort level with collectivism and government. Capitalism and free enterprise is on the way out and the government as caretaker is in. Due to advancements in technology, especially surveillance technology, young people have the sense that they are always being watched. And who do they blame for this invasion of privacy? You guessed it, the government. I know, this is getting a bit convoluted, but hang in there with me.
Essentially, teens and young adults are looking to government to protect their individuality, and provide for their daily and life-long needs. They see capitalism as the epitome of greed and they want nothing to do with it. Yes, Marxism is making a comeback.
Don’t get me wrong. I value individualism as much as anyone. It is the way it is being defined that is troubling. This generation wants the freedom to do whatever they want and to be whatever they want – individualism. They believe in a type of social justice where we all have the same things – collectivism. Again, can you say “Marxism?”
In general, this generation is disoriented; there is no right and wrong. Truth is within you. Don’t judge me, and give me what I am entitled to have. Give me an education, health care, a job and a retirement plan. Take care of me and keep me happy from the cradle to grave.
In my next post, I will continue to discuss postmodernism.
I would love to hear from you. What do you think? Please leave a comment.