The German weekly „Die Zeit“ this week provides a survey of the consequences of disappearing traditional family structures and socially predetermined gender roles for today’s youngsters.
According to the article, socio-athropologists and behavioral biologists alike now claim that kids these days are in dire need for authority and some sort of biographical structure. The price of freedom, of entirely open biographies, is apparently not a modest one – as rising suicidal attempts and a new autodestructive habits (German: „ritzen“) among both young boys and girls seem to indicate.
Now it is all too obvious that going back is not an option, and even the staunchest conservatives will agree on this point, at least in private. Even apart from the most obvious justifications from an economic and philosphical perspective, modern societies do need social variety as evolutionary organisational „market“.
But kids apparently need some sort of clear-cut answers about life and their position in society to grow up. Growing up does, of course, entail to question these previous certainties – but if there are none, no questions remain to be asked, no walls to be torn down.
But if going back is not an option – where are modern societies headed for? The one thing I think becomes obvious from reading accounts like the one cited above is that we are in need of a new social equilibrium – some sort of „steady-state-equilibrium“. One that is open and stable at the same time.
Don’t ask me for sketches as I don’t have any. But should that turn out to actually be an oxymoron, I fear we will have to witness more and more socially dysfunctional kids, grown ups and then parents – with a resulting negative feedback slope – until both people and society will have evolved in a way that can bridge the rising gap between our genetic and cultural endowments.
Now you might reply to this that no older generation in history has ever been able to understand their younger one and that the above article is simply an example of the classic generation-gap, reframed in modern scientific language by publication-hungry scientists.
That is quite possible. But I don’t think so.