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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Dear Old Guy, here's how my generation feels about the issues

By Marty Archibald

December 12, 2006 | Some old guy came and talked to our class the other day. How old? I don't know, once you hit 60 it's all the same anyways. He said he wants to hear the voice of our generation, those in college. He acted as if he thought our generation was completely different from his. He wanted to know how we feel about today's issues. Why we think the way we do. I asked myself, is he even going to be able to hear me? If so, will he remember it? Just in case, I'll write it down.

I voted in the most recent election. That's not normal for people my age. Most my age don't vote. A lot of us aren't even registered. I'm only registered because I needed to renew my driver's license. Putting a check mark in a little box was easy enough. I only voted because I only had to walk down the hall. Going further than down the hall would have been inconvenient. I only inconvenience myself for the truth. I still don't see what was so inconvenient about that truth.

I used the new electronic voting. The ones you old people can't use, but the change was made because you were leaving chads using the old method. My machine was broken. It didn't have a random button. It's not that I didn't know the candidates or the issues. I just didn't really care. I keep hearing that my vote matters, but I've never seen or heard any thing that makes me believe that.

Maybe it's because in the first election my generation can easily recall, the winner didn't even get the most votes. Maybe it's because the Electoral College doesn't make sense to us. In our mind's, the Electoral College says, we want your opinion on who gets elected and we may or may not take it. Or maybe because if two people vote in California and the whole state of Utah votes, California's two votes mean more than all of Utah's. Or maybe it's because the first political issue we remember was about the definition of "is."

That kind of jaded us when it comes to politics.

Whatever the reason, the vast majority of us don't vote. Maybe with a few more years when we gain that wisdom you have we will realize the importance of our vote. Or maybe we'll be reassured that you have been wasting your time all those years voting.

We like our hip-hop. True, a lot of it is mindless dreck. But it's our mindless dreck. You just don't get it and to be honest, a lot of the time we don't get it either. I'm still trying to figure out what a London bridge is. But occasionally a lyrical genius comes around, the 2pacs and the Biggies. They are the Shakespeares of our day.

We love our video games. It isn't our fault that you can say, "you have died of dysentery" and our first thought is Oregon Trail. That was our reward game in elementary school. After playing educational games such as Super Munchers the teacher would lets us play Oregon Trail as a reward. We've been playing video games ever since.

Sometimes it's easier to just use someone else's opinion. More so than your generation, we are constantly bombarded with opinions. TV, older people, we hear them from everywhere. Those opinions can be helpful in forming our own, but we can't truly form our own opinions from just other's opinions alone. But sometimes it's just easier to take someone else's opinion and call it our own. What we're left with is an opinion we can't back up.

There isn't much difference between our two generations when you really get down to it. You had rock and roll we have hip-hop. You had drive-ins and car hops. We have Fred Meyer parking lots. You have your bridge games and barber shops. We have Halo tournaments and Grey's Anatomy night. We're really the same, except that you are older.

Your vast life experience has helped in shaping your opinions. We haven't had that experience to gain opinions about the things that really matter. Ask us about video games, music, TV or where the party spots are. That's what we know. That's what we've experienced. Our opinions on the things that truly matter will come in time, yours did.


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