In a 1976 issue of New York Magazine, famed writer and novelist Tom Wolfe famously coined the moniker “Me Generation” to describe the evolution of the post-World War II progeny (of which I am a member) that has been commonly referred to as “Baby Boomers”.
The members of this cohort—not all, to be sure, but enough to influence an age and entire society—seemed to throw tradition and convention aside during the Vietnam War years, eschewing the values of self-sacrifice and trust in institutions their elders from the Greatest Generation had embraced.
Once the Vietnam War ended, it was as if a cloud lifted and suddenly the focus turned inward as people began to search for the meaning of life even as they were enjoying the fruits of what was the end of a 30-year economic boom created by three different wars and the government spending they engendered.
Synanon and est seminars (remember those?), and a panoply of communes sprouting up offered new pathways to self-absorption. The message was clear: “Me” is what’s important.
Our digital age has visited upon us many wonders: Smartphones now have computing power that exceeds that of the capsules that sent men to the moon; the miniaturization of computer chips and other electronic peripherals had made possible cameras and microphones that can easily be held in one hand; and of course, the Internet and players on it like Facebook, Google, and others, make it possible for people to communicate globally with a keystroke.
This has led to the advent of what I call the “Look At Me” Generation. No longer content with contemplating one’s navel, today’s narcissist instead, with the assistance of Twitter, Facebook, etc., feels compelled to share with the world every detail of their life: what they eat, wear, drive, and so on.
The truly dedicated, often athletic, sometimes pathetic, Look At Me (LAM for short) will take the extra step of acquiring a video camera like a GoPro that can be attached to a skateboard, snowboard, helmet, etc., to record their derring-do, sometimes with disastrous consequences then post it on YouTube.
The real dimwits are the ones who commit crimes on video they record and post (no joke, this has been done often). I’m sure they think it’s a real good idea at the time. I wonder whether any thought is ever given to the possible long term consequences. Nah, who am I trying to kid?
It’s like the trend in tattoos and piercing. Mostly of the full-sleeve, neck variety, and the ear gages that require plastic surgery if you ever want to reverse the damage they do. I’ve really tried to maintain an open mind on this. I tell myself it is the decision of the individual and times are changing. But, times have a way of changing back, too. What seemed like a cool idea at the time when you were twenty or even thirty might not be such a good idea at forty or fifty.
I do think it’s a bit disingenuous of the wearers who, if you happen to look just a bit too long, give you the “What are you looking at?” stare when you know that’s exactly what they were going for in the first place.
So there you have it. No more Generation X or Y. You are LAMs—the “Look At Me” Generation. Wear it with pride…just stop posting every wardrobe decision, OK? I really don’t care.