I have yet to meet the new kind of person. You know the one who just hooks up or doesn`t read or can’t empathize with others or is unable to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes or is relentlessly shallow. I have the opportunity to meet plenty of people. Now admittedly. most of them are between the ages of 14 and 18 but I could argue that those should be the ones that manifest these tendencies first. I could say that they express themselves in print with less expertise than their predecessors, but if I did I would be joining along historical tradition of elders bemoaning the fact that “kids today …….” . As a matter of fact many of the people I meet, young and old, are intense and committed. They are playful and intelligent. They care deeply about their education, or their children, or other people or what they do for a living. They do read, and volunteer and they do want to keep learning and growing.
Of course there are idiots. And there have always been people who take more than they give. I am not unaware that I have had the good fortune not to have been born in Calabria or Somalia. Perhaps my perspective would have been very different if I was. I do not know. I do know (and am reassured by the fact that) statistically, even in the places with the highest crime rates in the most lawless countries most of the people are not involved in criminal activity.
I also know that after living for almost fifty years through some of the greatest social and technological changes in the short history of mankind, the idea of a new kind of person being created as a result of these processes doesn`t make sense to me. I am not referring, at least not directly, to evolutionary psychology. Although the main elements of that approach to explaining human behaviour appeal to me. It has been my experience that humanity, with all its faults, is not as malleable as we may be led to believe.
There is good and bad in that. Perhaps my vote of confidence is an indirect thank you to most of those I have encountered along the way. My circle of acquaintances may be a little too homogeneous or just small in number to be legitimate. But I believe we are not ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than we have ever been.