Blowback against socio-psychobabble about how Edward Snowden’s generation is anti-government
Moderate-conservative columnist David Brooks of The New York Times took it upon himself today to EXPLAIN how NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old, is somewhat representative of an alienated generation:
Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.
If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.
This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age….
Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Blog DEFTLY REBUTS Brooks’ nonsense:
Snowden’s generation? As Pew noted in January, 18-to-29-year-olds are, by a significant margin, the most likely to say they “trust the government in Washington to do the right thing always or most of the time.”
There may be a subgroup of distrustful Millennial dudes, but the generation as a whole is not alienated from the institution of government. If anything, it’s the rest of us, the oldsters, who are alienated. (And remember, the young are the ones who’ve been most supportive of Barack Obama and other Democrats in recent years. Interest in libertarianism, at least among the young, could be explained in part by Obama’s failure to live up to his promise.)
And on the subject of this generation’s overall socialization, I’ll say that for the past twenty-plus years I’ve lived a couple of avenues over from a popular bar strip for twentysomethings, and I can assure you that young people generally still like interpersonal engagement — a lot. It’s true that now they spend much of their time checking their phones, but they do this in large groups. And, of course, their parents have pretty much the same phone habits. The young (and not-so-young) are still social, and are also digital-social.
Snowden is just who he is. He is not the representative man of our times.