Musings: Generations

Today’s topic is: “What generation do you wish you grew up in?”

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris 2011

This topic reminds me of Woody Allen’s 2011 movie Midnight in Paris. I’m not a big Owen Wilson fan, but I loved the premise. A modern-day American writer travels to Paris, where he is able to travel back to the 1920s, to rub elbows with famous authors like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and artists including Picasso, Dali, and Matisse. While there, he meets a woman who longs to live in Paris’ Golden Age during the 1890s. Together they travel back in time where they meet Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin, and Degas, who insist the greatest era was the Renaissance.

It’s difficult for me to choose a generation because there were so many positives and negatives throughout history. The Roaring Twenties saw women gain the right to vote and the invention of many time-saving household appliances. But to be young and carefree in the 1920s, like Renée Zellweger in the movie Chicago, would also mean having to endure the economic crash of 1929 and losing loved ones in WWII ten years later.

My own generation (technically called Generation X, although I’m only four years away from being considered a Millennial) has seen the cost of education skyrocket, the housing market tumble, and the uncontained spread of technology. The wars that have been fought during my lifetime have been vague and distant. They haven’t brought the country together the way propaganda posters would have you believe WWII did.

 

I considered that the key might be to go way back to the 1790s – 1850s. Maybe things would be better in the years after the American Revolution but before the Civil War, when the founding fathers were trying to create a unified nation out of an odd collection of colonies. (My upcoming novels, the Roosevelt series, will be partially based during this time period. Stay tuned for more details on how and when you can buy the first book.) Hmmm… or maybe the 1870s Little House on the Prairie frontier lifestyle would be a good fit for me. While I would avoid wars, my chances of dying in childbirth or from some contagious disease would be greatly increased.

I’m going to hope that the right answer will be Generation Alpha, which includes both of my daughters. For the babies born after 2010, their life won’t simply include technology, it will be completely immersed in it. Part of that makes me very worried; I want to be sure they don’t let the internet think for them. Therefore, as a parent, I insist that they read books made of paper and spend the majority of their time unplugged, interacting with others and using their imaginations. If I do my job right, they will grow up living like Laura Ingalls Wilder, except with parents who happen to be addicted to the internet.

 

Tell me which generation you’d wish for the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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