. . the other day, when I heard a commentator complain about the lethargy and conformity of today's youth compared to the 1960's. Considering my own sons, I would agree they are much more interested in having fun with friends and accessing the latest gadgets than with social causes.
But (I thought), lest we think that youth 40 years ago were so much more aware and perceptive, consider how different the times then and now. In the 1960's, Americans were riding high the wave of prosperity that grew post WWII. Their parents were the "conformists", made the money and gave the kids opportunities (and material possessions) the parents wished they'd been able to have as children. In a word, the Baby Boomers sort of grew up "spoiled". Into that, the youthful rebellion was (sort of -- not really) a reputiation of materialism and social injustice. Frankly, we were able to be so comfortable in our prosperity that would could condemn it without feeling threat.
Compare to today: A country where drugs and crime are everywhere (especially in the news). Where intact families and familiar neighbors are replaced by fratured families and anonimity. "Don't talk to strangers" and the feeling you can't trust anyone or anything. A country whose wealth and polish has been largely replaced by debt and tarnish. You seek education, but where are the jobs? You don't get comfortable as the Baby Boomers could/did -- you know life might be a struggle or, at least, much less certain. While there are still some "isms" around to get some fired up, the great social causes have largely been fought: Women today are out-educating and gradually out-earning men. The black middle class has left behind its own poor. Gays are close to getting parity with straights. There just aren't the noble battles to be fought. Today, its about, "What will my life be like? Will it/I be okay?"
Like I said, different times . . . different responses.