Why do Gen Z and Millennials not engage with the past so much?

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Harbinger of Kali Yuga

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In past generations, you'd have thinkers and philosophers quote the Greek and Roman greats, or playrights, poets, thinkers, so on. You had people reading a wealth of philosophy and history to understand how we got to the ever-present "NOW" from the "THEN." But now Millennials... they don't seem to care much about what happened before their lifetime. They know about WWII, have a vague understanding of the Vietnam war, probably don't even know the Korean war was a thing, and just sort of live in an eternal childhood where their interests are the exact same as they were when they were kids. Grown "men" are playing pokemon and watching anime no less when they were 16 years old, and the content they consume is largely the same quality.

I think since the 80s we've been massively going downhill in most popular forms of music. Movies today are worse than they've ever been, and the literature world is now dominated by the same socially-conscious messages that are repeated ad nauseum despite never containing or saying anything new, or even offering any new insights, just recontextualizing things into the worst and least charitable form of oppression, endlessly.

The best you sometimes get is some nerd that tries to resurrect "natural law" because they have a hard on for Enlightenment-era thinking and think philosophy ended where their high school education left off.
 

Harbinger of Kali Yuga

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The Internet. There's simply too much media/information, too accessible, all the time. It's particularly bad with the advent of the "feed", with unstructured, poorly-structured, or crypto-structured information being blasted at media-consumers 24/7. The thing is, I don't think those Millennials or Zoomers have much of an understanding of society and culture post-internet, either. I don't think anyone does cultural and historical canon, either.
The problem is it is too structured. The Almighty Algorithm prioritizes the NOW and the NEW.

It's all part of The End of History, the eternal now. It's just that Millennials and Zoomers get it doubly-bad because unlike Gen-X and the oldest Millennials, they don't have any real experience of a time when there was a unified, coherent cultural and historical canon, either.
The evil of globalism, in my eyes, isn't what everyone else focuses on. It's the homogenization of the human spirit. Diversity is wonderful, but real diversity, not the "stick humans in a blender and drink the results" that liberals believe in. I am fascinated by European culture. I am fascinated by African culture. I am fascinated by all the subcultures that have existed, modern ones, and ones people have forgotten about (dandies, muscadins, incroyables--look it up, history is full of hidden things to provide insights). We NEED isolated segments of society for advancement and differentiation. Think of evolution--we need pockets of different populations with their own characters just so people somewhere can be a little different somewhere else. The left used to believe in this, before the migrant crises. They'd point to corporations, like Starbucks, for tearing down the quaint little coffee cafes (not true in America, where Starbucks created the demand for coffee drinks nearly single-handedly and actually helped prop up the indie companies too, but I digress). Now that there's a racial dimension with migrants though, you no longer hear those arguments except from the right wing. Other people forget, with their perpetual entrapment in the Now, but I don't.

I have a long memory. I remember when social security would be a hot button issue, until it wasn't. Remember when social security would pop up as a big issue in the media, never get resolved, and then disappear? I did, I always found that VERY interesting...

This thread reminds me of when I was 20 and all the 30 year olds didn't seem to care about all the cool old shit I'd 'discovered' that 'nobody else appreciated'.
I don't know how old you are, so I can't comment. But I am in my 30s, and I know my peers. I know my generation, and I have talked to many people online. My real friends end up always being either hip Gen Xer, a few artistic Baby Boomers, and the occasional disgruntled Millennial like you'd find on the farms. I still remember the internet when it was far more janky and basic. When bugs were the norm and everything was chaotic, but fun. When you could stumble on a random geocities page by some random asshole that contained some random program that let you wreck havoc on your AOL buddies or just contained a random video game cheat code nobody else posted about anywhere else. I remember the human interaction on the internet then, those days, and how easy it was to make a new online friend. These days, we're more connected as ever and it's more difficult than ever. Everything I believed in as a youth with the Internet was proven wrong with time, and I think most of us on the Farms are confronting that in our middle adult years or even middle age--the false promise of the Internet. It's a wonderful archival tool, especially now that data is cheap and broadband is nearly ubiquitous. But the surge of information did not revitalize culture. It should have, a priori, but it did not. Either something in our culture interfered, or I was wrong, and I suspect my premise was wrong.
 
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CaptainNiemand

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But, I think that most people in most generations are unremarkable and only interested in the now. Keep in mind that when we look at older generations we're filtering through the common rube and viewing the most exceptional (in the real sense, not the Kiwi Farms meme sense) people of that generation.

There's the rub.

I'm bonafide Boomer, sixty-something vintage.

And I grew up in Silicon Valley.

Even back then, in places reputed to be more sophisticated than average you, as a peer, couldn't get most kids of high school age or younger to watch old movies, or TV shows, or listen to old music. The ones that did, wouldn't admit to having done so. I'm not surprised that I simply despise most teenagers to the same degree as I did when I actually was one ...
😉
 

Nonconsentual Pronouns

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Narcissism in the way we know it now started with boomers, carried through gen-x, snowballed with milennials and is at an all- time high now with zoomers. The modern narc simply isn't capable of caring about anything that isn't about themselves. That's why the cinema is now nothing but modern-set power fantasies of uwu so relatable self-insert garbage. Narcs generally don't give a fuck about anything they don't personally relate to. These motherfuckers usually can't so much as have a genuine admiration for an animal unless it's some kind of grand statement to elevate themselves, or they have one as a pet.

TL;DR - They're narcs and the past isn't about them.
 

Sage In All Fields

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I don't see what you mean, alot of zoomer aesthetic & fashion trends are borne out of stuff from the 70s or earlier. You've got stuff like cottagecore, synthwave. I feel like on the contrary gen z only has the past, because since the advent of the internet culture's sort of gotten stuck in a time loop where new things become old and then old things become new perpetually with only minor variation.
 

Red Hood

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I don't see what you mean, alot of zoomer aesthetic & fashion trends are borne out of stuff from the 70s or earlier. You've got stuff like cottagecore, synthwave. I feel like on the contrary gen z only has the past, because since the advent of the internet culture's sort of gotten stuck in a time loop where new things become old and then old things become new perpetually with only minor variation.
A lot of that shit is just bastardized takes on the past by people that aren't examining it in detail and weren't around for it. It's beyond even the Sir Walter Scott "Merrie Olde England" (Scott at least understood the departures from the historical past and used the concept to present a somewhat idealized past, though one that didn't gloss over some of the seedier shit), it's a Disney Park version of the past that's only appropriated for its aesthetic value.

It makes me think of Kung Fury, which to me made me think of a millenial's half-remembered conception of what a Van Damme movie might have been combined with a bunch of dumb "throw it in, that's totally badass" Joss Whedon on a shoestring budget bullshit. It feels entirely artificial.
 

Ike Aim

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The problem is it is too structured.
Unstructured from the point of view of the user. Media algorithms are notoriously byzantine and in combination with other services and streams it's just a flood of chaotic content and information all vying for little bits of your attention. The worst that prior generations had were magazine stands and 100 cable tv channels. I agree that there is a ryhme to the reason on the backend for all of these internet platforms.
 

Grub

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I don't know how old you are, so I can't comment. But I am in my 30s, and I know my peers. I know my generation, and I have talked to many people online. My real friends end up always being either hip Gen Xer, a few artistic Baby Boomers, and the occasional disgruntled Millennial like you'd find on the farms. I still remember the internet when it was far more janky and basic. When bugs were the norm and everything was chaotic, but fun. When you could stumble on a random geocities page by some random asshole that contained some random program that let you wreck havoc on your AOL buddies or just contained a random video game cheat code nobody else posted about anywhere else. I remember the human interaction on the internet then, those days, and how easy it was to make a new online friend. These days, we're more connected as ever and it's more difficult than ever. Everything I believed in as a youth with the Internet was proven wrong with time, and I think most of us on the Farms are confronting that in our middle adult years or even middle age--the false promise of the Internet. It's a wonderful archival tool, especially now that data is cheap and broadband is nearly ubiquitous. But the surge of information did not revitalize culture. It should have, a priori, but it did not. Either something in our culture interfered, or I was wrong, and I suspect my premise was wrong.
This seems like a different complaint than the one in your op that's not really related. The internet changed because corporations took over and made it accessible as a method of easy media and content delivery for the masses to consume.

As for millenials and the internet, you gotta remember, there were a lot of people that age that didn't grow up on the internet or didn't even have a computer until the 2000's. I remember being one of the few kids where I lived that even had a computer and the internet in the 90's. By the time the mid 2000's hit, the old internet was already starting to disappear.
 

Madre Muerte

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They have a fascination with vinyl, Nintendo games, 80's horror movies, Dungeons and Dragons, and religious history. I think you're just not engaging with those generations.
 

SexPistol

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Millennials are pussies who like big hug boxes and hide themselves away from normal society while whining about how old they are getting while accomplishing nothing.

I have so many friends who are depressed working their dead end job at Daily’s while Zoomers excel passed them in every way financially with crypto or easily accessible college degrees.

They want to watch anime and feel good and never have confrontation with anyone. Bringing up anything that makes them mildly feel outside their comfort box short circuits their brain and triggers them back to their abysmal childhoods.

Zoomers like Tiktok. I have a bunch of zoomer friends who get hyped for the newest thing and then drops it less than a week later and never talks about it again. Having conversations with them is hard because they only know how to talk about what’s hip and now, so that leaves me out of 70 percent of their conversations. It’s crazy watching them migrate to new social media platforms too. Did I mention they love talking about themselves? One of my girl friends literally dissociates if she hears someone talking longer than 30 seconds and it doesn’t involve her.

One thing I noticed is that it’s just hard to talk to both of these generations about anything that isn’t internet memes, video games or anime. They know the real world sucks and are happy to live in a bubble. I think they missed the memo that there are other ways to make the world a better place outside of Twitch streaming.
 

Harbinger of Kali Yuga

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They have a fascination with vinyl, Nintendo games, 80's horror movies, Dungeons and Dragons, and religious history. I think you're just not engaging with those generations.
Only on a superficial level. I agree with what The Shadow said regarding this. The nostalgia for past generations Millennials have isn't authentic and it's not a true interest in the times. None of these Millennials even know what "new wave" is despite defining the 80s sound. I doubt a majority know what "synthpop" is. Most of these Millenials think communism is a good idea even after the USSR!!! Millennials will make a point of loving things like Led Zeppelin (always fucking Led Zeppelin, always, what the fuck) and The Beatles but ask them to name any other classic rock band beyond Fleetwood Mac and that's when things get really funny. And when they collect vinyl, they're buying every The Dear Hunter vinyl they can find.

Some of these interests align with mine, even history of religion at times. As I am a Millennial myself I am most certainly engaging with them. No, they do not have anything more than a very superficial interest in things. They don't read books on the subjects they purport to talk about, they call themselves "geeks" and "experts" about topics I know more than them and would never pretend I am an expert in.

Millennials are pussies who like big hug boxes and hide themselves away from normal society while whining about how old they are getting while accomplishing nothing.

I have so many friends who are depressed working their dead end job at Daily’s while Zoomers excel passed them in every way financially with crypto or easily accessible college degrees.

They want to watch anime and feel good and never have confrontation with anyone. Bringing up anything that makes them mildly feel outside their comfort box short circuits their brain and triggers them back to their abysmal childhoods.

Zoomers like Tiktok. I have a bunch of zoomer friends who get hyped for the newest thing and then drops it less than a week later and never talks about it again. Having conversations with them is hard because they only know how to talk about what’s hip and now, so that leaves me out of 70 percent of their conversations. It’s crazy watching them migrate to new social media platforms too. Did I mention they love talking about themselves? One of my girl friends literally dissociates if she hears someone talking longer than 30 seconds and it doesn’t involve her.

One thing I noticed is that it’s just hard to talk to both of these generations about anything that isn’t internet memes, video games or anime. They know the real world sucks and are happy to live in a bubble. I think they missed the memo that there are other ways to make the world a better place outside of Twitch streaming.
This is exactly my experience. Especially your last paragraph. I cannot talk to anyone around me on anything that isn't memes, video games, or anime. I can posture enough and have seen enough to provide authentic conversation, but good god damn I do NOT want to talk about which Final Fantasy was my favorite (6, obviously) any more in my life. I'm an adult and should have power over my life, I should be doing more than mindless consumption.

There's the rub.

I'm bonafide Boomer, sixty-something vintage.

And I grew up in Silicon Valley.

Even back then, in places reputed to be more sophisticated than average you, as a peer, couldn't get most kids of high school age or younger to watch old movies, or TV shows, or listen to old music. The ones that did, wouldn't admit to having done so. I'm not surprised that I simply despise most teenagers to the same degree as I did when I actually was one ...
😉

Well, the movies of then were unquestionably better of the now to begin with. If you want to watch a good movie, you're probably going to be watching something from the 90s or prior. You cannot really compare the climate of movies today vs. then because today they are measurably worse.

And as for movies, I'd argue that the 70s were the most "experimental" and craziest period for some truly wild and strange films, The Holy Mountain and Salo being stark examples of what I mean, movies that will never be created again and certainly not with the same spirit., Boomers and Gen X had easy access to some of the best films ever made because they were made within their livetimes. That's not true of Millennials unless you really like capeshit. I watch older films, I watch some newer films, but I always feel the 70s and 80s were the best decades for cinema.

Maybe it depends on whether you were American or elsewhere. Maybe this is an American phenomenon.

---

I should say, the exception I've seen to this is punks and people associated with that subculture. I'm by no means associated with them, but the punks and such I meet have genuine interests in old ska and such and I can respect that. There are exceptions, always, of course.

I don't see what you mean, alot of zoomer aesthetic & fashion trends are borne out of stuff from the 70s or earlier. You've got stuff like cottagecore, synthwave. I feel like on the contrary gen z only has the past, because since the advent of the internet culture's sort of gotten stuck in a time loop where new things become old and then old things become new perpetually with only minor variation.

I think Zoomers have more in common with rave fashion than 70s trends... Not sure where you're seeing real 70s style unless you're confusing it with something. I've never met a Zoomer that knew anything much prior their generation.

Because the past is RACIST and SEXIST and triggers them too much.

But seriously, consumerist pop culture ultimately cultivates a goldfish mentality. They want you to like NEW THING. How can you spend your pitiful disposable income on NEW THING if you're busy engaging with OLD THING? I wouldn't be surprised if it's all intentional. Destroy the old unless it can prey on nostalgia.

I'm quoting this again, The Shadow, because I copied and pasted your post to a Gen X friend of mine who is an actual artist and she loved it. We agree you're probably dead on here.

The future is now, old man.

There is no future. Only an eternity of Spongebob Squarepants memes, anime, and ROY G BIV fashion. MANGIA! MANGIA! MANGIALO!

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Nonconsentual Pronouns

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I don't see what you mean, alot of zoomer aesthetic & fashion trends are borne out of stuff from the 70s or earlier. You've got stuff like cottagecore, synthwave. I feel like on the contrary gen z only has the past, because since the advent of the internet culture's sort of gotten stuck in a time loop where new things become old and then old things become new perpetually with only minor variation.
Plucking a "look" out of the past, bastardizing it and renaming it to pretend it's 100% theirs isn't exactly engaging with the past. They know nothing about the "look" aside from their cherrypicked interpretation of it's aesthetic that pleases them. Nothing about the history, the people, the methods, the reasoning, no nothing.
 

Harbinger of Kali Yuga

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Plucking a "look" out of the past, bastardizing it and renaming it to pretend it's 100% theirs isn't exactly engaging with the past. They know nothing about the "look" aside from their cherrypicked interpretation of it's aesthetic that pleases them. Nothing about the history, the people, the methods, the reasoning, no nothing.
You know how many Millenials and Gen Zers I know that say they like synthpop and don't even know who Gary Numan is?
 

Harbinger of Kali Yuga

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I guess this is the boomer hate thread cope thread. Bunch of old fags whinging about the kids don't like playing with the same toys as they did.
Almost none of us here are "Boomers" and the OK Boomer meme is Millennial shit blaming other people for spending all their money on Funko pops and Marvel merch. Millennials refuse to grow up. Not all of us want to wear Rick and Morty graphic T shirts as adults.

It's always amusing seeing Millennials bitch about how hard they have it when I know exactly what their spending habits are.
 

lurk_moar

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I am a lot more concerned about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, climate change disasters, future pandemics, and the dystopian reality we live in than those who came before me thought about.
 

Harbinger of Kali Yuga

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It's possible to be concerned with both, regardless of age.
They aren't wrong, but they don't realize how bad what they said actually is, because we have a generation demanding radical solutions to problems they barely understand in the first place with absolutely no grasp of history or how those same "radical solutions" were worse than the problems themselves. Indeed, the second the world seems to start shrugging off the horrors of socialism, here come the Millennials thinking that shit is the answer again because they are too fucking stupid to know what happened before them outside of their "entertaining" commentators half-understood propaganda.