Emphasis on Alienation of Young Pleople
New Element in The Classic Tevolt of Youth
Rebelliousness in youth is something most adults can take in stride. Decades of popular psychology have taught them to expect resistance to adult controls during adolescence. Each new generation of young people now is expected to set its own style of living with little interference from its elders. Many of the older generations were themselves young rebels in their day. Grandparents in the 1960s were, after all, the “flaming youth” of the 1920s. Young people today therefore enjoy an unusual, possibly an unprecedented, degree of adult forbearance for their sometimes antic efforts to assert their own identity.
Many persons nevertheless sense something new and troubling in the breakaway of today's youth. The new element is often summed up in the word “alienation.” The alienated youth feels a stranger to his family, to his friends and associates, to society at large, and sometimes even to himself. He typically rejects the values and goals of the prevailing order and refuses to fill the roles it assigns him.
The inaccessibility to normal ties of affection and obligation implied by the term “alienation” accounts to a large degree for the uneasy impression that the young rebels of today—unlike those of the past—may not, after having their fling, find their way back so readily to acceptance of a normal adult role in society. In that event, one wonders, What next?