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Capital, social, political, animal. Eventually also mineral.

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  1.                                                               Earlier this week, I watched Generation Like on FRONTLINE:
  2. Which made me wonder a lot about parents. 
                                                                                I kept thinking, where ARE the parents? 
    Why aren't the filmmakers talking TO or ABOUT the parents? (Except the parent of the last teen...)
    Why is it legitimate to state that parents AREN'T tech-literate? 
    Why are we pretending that Millennials aren't parenting teens/tweens, too? (You know, the generation that also had some access to Internet and forms of social media in their adolescence...?)
  3. So I read some of the reviews. Negative
  4.                                                                        ... and positive
  5.                                           ...and none of them seemed to be interested in looking the direction I did.
  6. Then I read a piece by Thomas Frank on Salon, "There is no meritocracy: It’s just the 1 percent, and the game is rigged."
                                                 Which is pretty much what the title says. What is interesting, however, is that Frank discusses this by focusing squarely on the Obama administration—its actions (or lack thereof), promises, rhetoric, policies, appointees.
  7.                                                                                             And reading Frank's bio led me to The Baffler:
  8. ...which helped me condense what it is that bothered me so much about Generation Like. And, really, not just that film. 
                               Also things like 'Chopped All-Stars,' when an asshole chef tells us how empathetic he became after having children, or a perfectly nice-seeming chef tells us she chose to compete for a charity that helps children with a specific sickness because she has a perfectly healthy child & is, therefore, now capable of gratitude.
  9.                                                            It's all thinking that falls into the camp/trap of a certain kind of mean-spirited teleology, an under-estimation & under-valuing of the capacities and associations we have with concepts like "humanity" or "people." Personhood. Or, as another article helps label it, the (ma)lingering affects of Neo-Darwinist thought:
  10. Which is, I realize, what the whole 'sell out' moment in Frontline was probably attempting to build up to: the collapse of so much experience & emotion to data that convinces us to buy things & stuff. Exactly the problem that Jaron Lanier sees. 
                                                                               (Though it's worth pointing out that Lanier completely sidesteps the fact that he's looking/talking about 'startup' culture without mentioning venture capitalists & the role/pressure they exert. As in, just how many funders would write a check for a startup founder who fed them the line Lanier longs for: "We’re going to do this thing and we just have a feeling it’s important, we have a feeling it will matter to people, but we don’t know why or how."):
  11.                               Which gets me back to how I'm beginning to consider why any of this should matter.

    Here, it seems fitting to put this in terms of Gresham's Law—which Wikipedia sums up for us nicely as: "Bad money drives out good." 
                                                         Or, in other words, in a system where we pretend that all 'money'—whether made of, say, paper or gold—is equal, then the dynamics of that system will result in the cheaper (paper) money proliferating/getting used more than the costly (gold) money, effectively driving it out of the market. (And into private holdings.)
  12.                                                                                                      So. When we rail about inequality and opportunity and ladders and technology and youth, it seems also worth considering what, exactly, the ends are we're aiming for. 
                                                       If the young people implicated in Generation Like have truly replaced the metaphorical, anti-capitalist definition of 'sell out' with the literal, capitalist definition...well. What does it say about the people around them?
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