Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Divinipotent About the Myth of Youthful Idealism

“Idealists...foolish enough to throw caution to the winds...have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.”
~ Emma Goldman

"If you're not Liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not Conservative when you're 35, you have no brain" is a popular saying among smug, small-minded people who then go on to misattribute the line to Winston Churchill (he said no such thing). In Divinipotent Daily's experience, liberal values and idealism are in no way phenomena of youth. They are not fads, they are belief systems that last a lifetime.

Today's musings were prompted by a visit to a winsome little Web site called myparentswereawesome.  The concept is simple: young people post photos of their parents in their youthful glory days. As the home page says,
"Before the fanny packs and Andrea Bocelli concerts, your parents (and grandparents) were once free-wheeling, fashion-forward, and super awesome."
It's like awkwardfamilyphotos with love instead of embarrassment. The result is completely disarming. Not said but, based on personal experience, highly probable: those glowing, carefree parents, though older and less beautiful on the surface, are just as awesome as ever within.

Let's take a step back.

The Web site iStrategyLabs notes that Facebook usage among people 55 and over increased 513% in the first six months of 2009. And an article by Anita Gates in the March 22, 2009 New York Times hints at why: "Finding or being found by old, old friends, all the way back to grammar school, can be a real kick." And as Gates says, "How many 14-year-olds have truly long-lost friends?"

Divinipotent Daily is a baby boomer and, on trend, has reconnected with a growing contingent of long-lost friends since joining Facebook. Whether the friend is from elementary school, high school, art school or the rock and roll business, everyone looks different but thinks the same. Countercultural idealism is alive and well in social media, and as the election of Barack Obama illustrates, it translates powerfully into political and social action.

So spend a little time on myparentswereawesome. And as you click through the photos, remember that while hairlines, waistlines and responsibilities have changed, the same minds that lived within these people when they were "super awesome" are still at work today.

"If you didn't have some sense of idealism, then what is there to sustain you?"
~ James Carville

Update: A new article posted on Psychology Today's blog somewhat fleshes out the psychological underpinnings of the Awesome Ones. It suggests that while the idealism of baby boomers was for many years muted by career concerns, "The volunteerism of the Clinton years seems to have taken root among those unfulfilled boomers. I could see that there was a real concern about social well-being that goes back to the core values they developed in college."

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