Luis Cuende


How boomers destroyed the West

Lately, I have been asking myself: why is art and culture worse today than a few decades ago?

In all probability, I have already listened to most of the best music I’ll listen to in my life. I am at peace with that. No more Queen, no more Roxette, no more Fire Inc… the list goes on. I consume a lot of music and I have great respect for it. And while I keep finding good stuff (both old and new), I can safely say that the days of listening to these creations for the first time, with all the excitement and goosebumps, are over.

Same goes for cinema. I can say with certainty that I have watched most of the best movies I’ll watch in my lifetime. Being in my 20s, these thoughts are quite pessimistic indeed.

But I have reasons to be pessimistic. Just watch the next Star Wars movies after the original saga, or the very recent reboot of The Matrix.

Watch a thoughtful, serious character like Morpheus get transformed into a total clown. Hear the desperate attempt to try and appeal to the youth today by using street slang. While the previous movies keep a serious, philosophical approach — sure, with tons of action and effects to appeal to the average spectator — the reboot is like a caricature of what it was.

Instead of making the spectator ask themselves a question, it screams you the answer right to your face combined with some dumb slang.

Maybe we don’t want to think anymore? Maybe we just don’t have the attention span for it? Thinking — deeply, not just moving electricity around the brain — requires deep focus and curiosity. In the last decade, our attention span has gone like this:

2h movie → 30min chapter → 10min YouTube video → 20s TikTok

Not thinking much means consuming whatever it is without questioning it much.

Take trap and reggaeton: two of the main protagonists of my pessimism about culture.

Go to any random club in Spain, you will hear reggaeton. Its lyrics are usually quite misogynistic and gross, to say the least. Yet in Spain, a country in which feminism thrives, you can find all the girls dancing and singing along to lyrics that clearly undermine their stated ideals.

When I lived in Switzerland, I could see a football field from my window. I would see Swiss kids, sometimes as young as 7-9 years old, listening to extremely dark trap.

Picture this: another day in beautiful Switzerland, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, there’s beautiful nature around and you live in one of Earth’s most privileged countries… and now picture super trashy trap breaking it all apart. Yes, that’s our world today.

What’s underpinning this cultural decadence? It’s rather simple: lack of hope. Lack of dreams. Not believing that tomorrow will be better than today.

You can feel that lack of hope everywhere in the West.

And indeed, there are reasons to be pessimistic. Here are a couple:

We can say with certainty that millennials and Gen Z have inherited a mess.

Most of my non-techie Spanish friends won’t be able to own a home. Or maybe they will, when they are 50. They won’t be able to find a job that fulfills them, both mentally and financially. They won’t be able to move out of their parents’ place to start a new life with their significant one. And therefore they will delay starting a family until the latest point possible — and they might even drop that dream.

For most of them, their best days are over. Their high school days, with all the carelessness, the parties and the hopeful naïveté for a blooming future are over. They confront the truth and realize they have been lied for more than a decade about these magical university degrees that will get you a great life. It was a lie. Probably not out of malice, but out of lack of vision. Out of the negligence that boomers have imposed onto this world.

Our world is burning. Earth, the most beautiful planet we know in the universe, is facing a climate crisis not seen by humankind before.

Was it really that hard for boomers to anticipate such issue and address it?

Was it really that hard for boomers to see that flooding the job market with university degrees and student debt would destroy it?

Was it really that hard for boomers to anticipate what an inverted population pyramid would do to real estate?

We are not asking for nice-to-haves. We are asking for an entire generation to address issues that would destroy our planet, destroy our economy and destroy all possibilities for youth to start their own life and build their own families. These are some of the most important musts to live a fulfilling life. They failed us. Probably not out of malice, but out of gross negligence.

We cannot really pinpoint anyone. My parents have always been hard working, they raised me to be who I am and they fought as hard as they could. I cannot complain.

The boomer power grab

There is one objection I have against most boomers. The elite, the ones in control — backed by the voter base, mainly composed of fellow boomers — have made a choice: to remain in control. Look at our politicians. I seriously pity some of them, working on such stressful jobs being 80.

They might have done that out of greed, or maybe they were just trying to be paternalistic.

But the issue remains: it’s not their world anymore. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

Giving up control is always scary, but it’s the only way society moves forward.

And if boomers will not address the issues that newer generations are facing, at least they should give us the power to address those ourselves.

This is certainly a bug in democracy: as population ages and the pyramid inverts, boomers are more likely to vote for boomers that will preserve their interests. It might work well for them in the short-term, but what about the long-term?

Disregarding entire generations from taking the chance to govern the world leads to a death spiral for society.

Not being able to govern the world means not being able to watch out for our interests. For example, not being able to solve the pressing issues that would prevent us from enjoying our planet, having fulfilling jobs or starting our own families.

In turn, letting these issues continue, undermining any remaining hope.

And when there’s no hope, things turn sour. The idea that tomorrow will be better than today — if we work hard enough to achieve it — is what underpins progress.

Credible hope enables dreaming of a better future, which in turn leads to working hard to achieve those dreams, which leads to building and improving things — increasing the credibility of a hope for a better tomorrow.

Our current cycle in the West is the opposite of that. The thought that tomorrow will be worse than today makes people stop dreaming, thus not working hard, thus not improving things — leading to further backing the thought that tomorrow we will be worse off.

It might be a bit different in the US, given its entrepreneurial spirit compared to Europe. But make no mistake, both are in a death spiral.

But, somewhere in this planet, hiding in plain sight, there’s hope...