Generations come.....generations go.
One can review historical and cultural changes within the Germanic region over the past thousand years and note that some generations have arrived in the midst of some period, and cleaned up a mess, invented a war out of thin air, or dragged a bunch of adults kicking and screaming into some new revolutionary period.
Martin Luther and his counter-revolutionaries took on the Catholic Church, and roughly a hundred years after their threats were made....full scale hostility unfolded in 1619 with the Thirty Years War. By mid-1600s....Germany was a much different place, and the Catholic Church was no longer the dynamic in everyday life, or a threat to society.
By 1919, the public perception of having a Kaiser or allowing Prussian military authority to hang over the general public had come to an end. Democracy and Lego-like construction of the Republic simply didn't help by the late 1920s and the public demanded some radical changes which a majority felt that only the Nazis could deliver such changes.
The awkward steps of 1960s and radical changes by the public were a difficult period. Change came to Germany but it was not entirely a friendly or organized event.
So, here are my ten observations of youth in revolutionary period of 2010 to 2010, and how they may transform society or dampen enthusiasm in the future.
1. I get on the bus every morning and have fifteen minutes to observe the sixty-odd school kids that are riding into Wiesbaden. Roughly fifty of these kids have smart-phones and are chatting, watching videos, updating Facebook, or listening to some new tune. These are kids who range from age eight to age seventeen. They've generally got the income to have unlimited internet or communication access. They are chatting over lost loves, homework woes, the newest fad or some gossip that has marginal value. Some are gaming as the bus moves along. Some are updating some picture on their Facebook page or dropping someone as their friend.
The amount of connectivity to their little world is significant. There are probably kids there with forty-odd connections. Some might even have friends sitting on a bus in Italy or Istanbul at the same time.
This leads me to think that they are engineering their future and relying on the communications for more and more things. Wang, the Chinese kid, might be able to explain a one-hour math episode in 90-seconds....using You-Tube. Boris, the science wiz, might show 750 kids a simple science project guaranteed to get them top grades for the semester in just three minutes.
2. Fashion trends are changing on a day by day basis. It amazes me to see a couple of thirteen-year old German kids who've trended themselves into the Goth-look. In all of Wiesbaden, unless you do the design or look yourself.....there's just one shop in town which does that type of look. There are probably a hundred kids spread around the city now....who desire Goth.
It surprises me to see some fourteen-year old German girl on the bus who has 300-Euro Italian made boots, or a 400-Euro leather jacket. Kids are willing to save up or use their one big purchase a year to make some huge fashion statement. Of course, with the same group.....they are stupid enough to pay 75-Euro for a pair of cheap Converse All-Stars made in Vietnam for 10-Euro only because the shoes look great.
I think in twenty years.....someone will spot a trend on a Wednesday....get the idea to some guy by that night, and by Monday morning....there will be some plane landing in Germany from China with 12,000 fake-Viking-look shirts that sell for 99-Euro each.
The idea of mom or dad guiding this fashion trend business? By age ten, the German kid has them out of the game.
3. TV options are under continual threat. To be honest, if you quizzed any group of kids about state-run TV and what they watch from the fifteen-odd channels......they'd just start laughing. Half would admit they mostly download or use Netflix.....the rest still use commercial TV. State-run TV usage is non-existent.
The reasons? It boils down to a couple of simple reasons. Lousy movies that they make which are mostly what an over-forty crowd would appreciate. Non-existent comedies. Science fiction (something that state-run TV won't touch). Clever scripts being necessary to the viewer.
German adults are mildly happy with state-run TV and the options....so there's no problem. In another decade? Some political party is going to stand up and say that half the population simply doesn't watch state-run TV....so why tax everyone? Once they cut this line....state-run TV will sink rapidly and be limited to just one or two stations.
4. Unnecessary pregnancies. By age thirteen, I'd take a guess that every single kid has had a minimum of ten hours of lecture on manly fluids and how that might get introduced into a female and cause a pregnancy. If you look around, there just aren't that many young German ladies of 14, 15 or 16 getting pregnant.
Toss in the fact that birth control is readily explained and offered. Toss in the added effect that kids don't have cars in their lives at age sixteen or have some backseat situation to enjoy a lusty evening with Wanda or Huns.
5. The lack of drug usage. I could probably go into Wiesbaden and do a random drug test on a thousand kids of age fifteen.....and 990 of them would likely pass. You might have some kids with marijuana, and a small handful with some pain-killers. But you simply don't have the drug usage that you see in the US.
This isn't about the change or be jerked around with future issues.
6. Current data says that more kids are doing the university route than the craftsman trade route....something is different from previous generations. Journalists can't readily identify the reason for this....other than more options existing.
7. Almost every single political party in Germany is angling toward the youth voter. They want them interested in the trendy topics, the intense discussions, and the potential outcomes (meaning that they come out and vote).
I've come to notice even state-run TV has tried to create chat forums that are geared strictly toward the 15-to-21 year old viewer. Oddly, with the exception of college or university students....no one else watches these chat forums. I'd take a guess that some barely have thirty-thousand viewers across all of Germany watching.
If you go back to various generations of Germans.....this hasn't really changed much except the attempt to draw them is more intense than ever.
8. Once the German kid makes the final run and has their first big job.....within a month.....they come to see their first pay-check and note the significant amount of money removed to pay taxes and health care. Taxation is a bigger deal today than in any generation of the past thousand years.
To be honest, the government has probably fixed the spigot to such a degree.....that they can't squeeze anything else out of the typical worker. So, there's not much more 'free-stuff' that you can offer, without taking money from one class of people and giving it to another class of people.
9. German kids are having massive amounts of health and good living information thrown at them left and right. If you look just at school lectures alone, each kid is probably getting fifty hours a year of information on why they shouldn't eat burgers, why they need to bath less often, why sugar is bad for you, why nuclear energy is bad, why climate change can be stopped, why Facebook is evil, why intellectualism is good for you, why smoking is bad, why multiculturalism thrives (when it doesn't), why meat is very unhealthy for you, etc.
All of this tends to be too much for the normal kid, and they start to become skeptical of these 'gospel-according-to-the-smart-guys' stories.
Back in the 1970s....German parents as kids didn't have to face as much conflict on these stories. Time, effort and funding is continually poured into this trend currently....but I think more than half is simply going down into some bottomless pit without any achievements shown for the episode.
10. If you were to say anything about German kids today and where things are going....you'd likely say that this is the land of mad scientists, witty physicists, tinkering engineers, von Braun geeks, Max Planck brilliance, von Humboldt nature wizards, and Martin Luther-enthusiasts who are prepared to challenge the most massive and oppressive creation of their time.
The truth is that you don't really remember the bottom ninety-nine percent of German society....it is the one-percent who ran past normal expectations, asked more stupid questions than anyone else, and sought answers that weren't supposed to exist (Einstein went beyond mortal expectations).
If you subtract one stupid Kaiser, one oppressed half of Germany for forty years, and one Austrian-pretending-to-be-a-German from German history....you end with a great five-star story. Hansel and Gretel are doing pretty well.....all things considered, with some occasional parental guidance and a wide-open road.