Thursday, January 24, 2008

Loss of Athens

I live in Athens, Ga. Which among the many places I've lived (Fairbanks, Venice, Boulder, Champaign, Chicago, Dharamsala and Downers Grove)is a good place. It's good because it has a rich history (although that history is being wiped out by the Atlantification i.e.)gentrification of small southern towns). I care about this history being wiped out. Out of all the places I've lived I care most about what is happening to Athens (not that this isn't happening in other places, because it is) but because I get the sense that it snuck up on its citizens and it's being orchestrated through late adolescents who don't know any better (but they should).

This generation of late adolescents my mother recently said are the generation that, "get a medal for showing up." They are entitled, self-focussed (not on issues, but shoes, ipods, and texting) and appear to be pretty checked out (many of these adolescents i.e.) UGA college students, walk out in front of traffic because they are looking down at the aforementioned cell phones and UGG boots.) Now, I understand that college-time is about self-exploration, self-centeredness to some regard and hopefully a commitment to one's personal ideologies. I just can't figure out why all these kids seems so empty. I don't get a sense that they care about much of anything. They're not politically engaged, there's not much philanthropy happening, they don't organize. These are all things that I did as a college student (still do) and my friends as well. And it's not like I grew up in the 60s. So what gives? And mainly what's going to happen when these kids are leading the nation?

I feel equally bad for the folks that these kids are pushing out of Athens (myself included) as I do for the kids themselves. This consumer-based, pop culture is turning some of the most fundamental times in a person's life into a solopsistic hell and they're buying it hook line and sinker. There's no sense of urgency at all that an entire generation is being raised on Fox News and Brittany Spears tabloids. I guess that's what you get when a nation spends half of it's federal budget on the military. It makes me sad and now I'm getting too global.

I'm most sad about the fact that due to a lack of jobs, good higher education opportunities and a basic sense of depression about Athens, we are going to be leaving soon...soon like in the next several months. And this is the place that our daughter was born, and my husband grew up. And damn it I wish something could convince us to stay.

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