08 The Heads-Down Generation (2013–2043)

Since 2008, the “heads-down generation” phenomena had been evident. It was most advanced in Hong Kong and South Korea; so, first documented there. Reporters wrote about young people, heads down, checking their phones, college students and grads who cared too little to vote and other depressed behaviors:

2013: Age of the Heads-Down Generation

Credeit: Mac-Filos.com


In the bustling city of Hong Kong, everyone tries to make the most of every second spent on public transportation. The solution is usually attending to some sort of electronics device. … Take a look around the streets and on public transportation. People constantly have their gaze fixed upon a lifeless object bringing them endless distraction.

More disturbing, at least to my point of view, is people reluctant to put down their phones and electronic devices when other important things are going on, such as walking in traffic. People walk with devices in their faces, oblivious to all else, not cognizant of who or what’s around them the slightest bit. … More significantly, they use smartphones to ignore needy people all around us. Everyone is fixated in their own little bubble of self-infatuation.

Smartphone and head-down generation in South Korea (2016)


begin Q

Hong Kong: People walking fast on the streets, holding up smartphones with high concentration is a common sight. You see this in bus stations, subway stations and coffee stores. When you ask, users say they cannot live without love, but truly, to Korea’s young generation, they cannot live without smartphones. News Asia Channel has done a video report about this habit of Korean and the final conclusion is in two words: Smartphone addiction.

Heads down, eyes on your electronic device, makes more sense in a large city, when you are in a sea of strangers. However the “heads down” youth phenomena goes deeper. Try and talk with these people and you find a good number of them are not simply following their peer’s behavior. They are also unskilled at talking, unskilled at listening, unskilled at hearing, unskilled at keeping up their end of a meaningful or any conversation.

If your people skills are low, as it the case with many people prior to high school graduation, it’s easy to excuse yourself by imagining the world is filled with constant threats of interpersonal conflicts. …

end Q

iGen — generation Internet — those born 1995–2012

Wired Magazine named iGen one of the “Best Tech Books of 2017:”

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (2017).

Kids are more connected virtually; yet, also more depressed and less prepared for adult success. Born in the mid-1990s up to the mid-2000s, iGen is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. With social media and texting replacing face-to-face conversation, dancing and other activities. iGen spends less time with their friends in person — contributing to their unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. More than previous generations, they are obsessed with safety, focused on tolerance, and have no patience for inequality.

Author Jean Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. She is the lead author of the study, “The Decline in Adult Activities Among U.S. Adolescents, 1976–2016.” She is the author of more than a hundred scientific publications and two books based on her research, Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic.

“The convergence of these diverse personal narratives with the data analysis lends a compelling sense of authority to the work…Technology in the last 30 years has not simply changed American culture, it’s transformed it. Twenge’s book is a wake-up call and poses an essential question: Where do we go from here?” ― Chicago Tribune

iGen’ers born between 1995 and 2012, are a group of 74 million Americans. At the time, they accounted for 24% of the population.

“Social media” is not social at all

User review of iGen by an iGen boy:

begin Q

I was born in 1996. In 2018 I’m a senior in college at UCSanDiego. Everything in this book rings true for me; and, of the students around me. For me, I’d say screen time and reliance on texting/messaging instead of real conversations — was a big factor in my lack of social skills in high school. This lead to many social and romantic failures.

The sapping of attend to social media; the constant sleep deprivation in high school (I often fell asleep in classes; and, constantly fell asleep at the wheel driving to school though never crashed).

I recently deleted Facebook and all that validation-hunting, antisocial social media. This book has been very eye-opening to see how my generation is sadly faring. I wish there was something I could do for the students around me and the ones coming in and their soft, unprepared asses. -Will Sun

end Q

The above argues “social media” is 100% entertainment — or distraction. For the most part, it’s not authentic. Selfies and almost every picture are always staged.

From a book review by Gary Moreau:

begin Q

it will “take a village” to address the iGen’ers overwhelming anxiety about their financial future. This is truly a problem for the business community and government to solve. The implied social contract which existed between employer and employee when I started my career, disappeared starting in the 80s. It isn’t coming back. We have to build some form of alternative because opportunities for self-sufficiency as a safety net (the Thoreau model) are almost extinct. The iGen generation — those not born rich — know this void exists. They know few adults are on their side to address this void, this lack of a secure future, realistically.

end Q

Women In Congress and parents in general had been very concerned with this. The success of Women’s Summer Conference #1 (2027) inspired Women with hope to explore hands-on solutions for it in Summer Conference #2 (2028).

Most feared of all: Interpersonal conflict

Why do so many people fear public speaking? Fear of interpersonal conflict. People with few interpersonal skills feel helpless and powerless when conflict arises. They have few skills for avoiding or de-escalating verbal conflict let alone physical conflict. Consider young persons, under age 25. If they grew up on a diet of TV sitcoms, with all dialogue scripted and rehearsed, with canned laughter after all the jokes, these correspond very little to real world conversations.

Gradually since 9–11, 2001, for the average heads-down young adult, in the majority of public high schools and colleges, speaking your mind, about what you believe in, any project requiring interpersonal process, seemed less and less safe.

Gradually since 9–11, 2001, for the average heads-down young adult, in the majority of public high schools and colleges, speaking your mind, about what you believe in, any project requiring interpersonal process, seemed less and less safe.

Additionally, if you are young, and witness multiple unnecessary incidents of verbal and physical violence, you learn it’s safer to look down at your phone, screen or console and avoid interpersonal conflict by avoiding all contact. This is how Monday Lunch With Experts speakers supported Women understanding the Heads-down Generation.

Marriage rate declines

begin Q

The marriage rate had been declining since 2008, an early effect of the as-yet unreported Male Gender Collapse. In the USA in the 1950 census, 78% of adults were married. In 2014 only 50.2% of adults were in marriages “Singles now outnumber married people in America…” “… Klinenberg says the trend towards single life predates the 2008 Recession. It’s a social change ignored for years, he argues.” — (https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-14/singles-now-outnumber-married-people-america-and-thats-good-thing

end Q

Such facts schooled Women to go slow, in their ambition to “re-make face-to-face culture.” There was a lot to learn before proposing new laws. Women In Congress held hearings on this issue. They learned too many colleges were graduating too many young adults:

- Who saw no reason nor purpose to vote in local and national elections,

- Who knew nothing workable nor practical about self-care, their own biochemistry and physical health,

- Who knew nothing workable or practical about their own mental health,

- Who were unable to give purpose and direction to their own lives.

Too many college graduates knew more about social media, pop culture and how to shop, than they did about how to get along with other people; let alone, who to vote for, for the highest public good.

Youth suicide

The Heads-down Generation overlapped considerably with a more serious problem, the rise in youth suicides. In 2027 Women did not yet realize how big a role fear of interpersonal conflict played. With facts, figures, charts and graphs, Monday Lunch With Experts speakers supported Women to understand the magnitude of:

- Teenagers unable to get along well with each other,

- Kids and parents unable to get along well with each other,

- Young married couples divorcing in record numbers, and

- A rising divorce rate among all married couples.

Conclusion? A majority of USA and world population, had few to no skills, to get along with their neighbors. Most people could barely get along within their own immediate family.

Reginald Denny’s classic question-prayer, “Can’t we all just get along?” had yet to be seriously addressed. Women asked organizers of Monday Lunch With Experts to book speakers on, “How to redeem healthy face-to-face connections?”

How to redeem healthy face-to-face relating?

What did the experts say? A summary: The only likely, long-term, sustainable solution, to generations lost and isolated, was to make face-to-face interpersonal relating more safe, trustworthy and attractive again.

This prompted a storm of audience questions on How? What? Where? The next series of Monday Lunch speakers addressed:

- What Best Practices in Interpersonal Competency were known and tested, and

- Best live classroom and large group strategies to ease audiences into interpersonal connecting as safe, trustworthy, even enjoyable. The bottleneck, they explained, was explicit education, in classrooms, in middle and high schools, and in colleges. Speakers pulled no punches. Educating younger generations in Interpersonal Competency, redeeming face-to-face relating, was a huge undertaking. Many possible unintended consequences would have to be faced.

Compassionate Communication expert Sarah Peyton educated Women on the need for best interpersonal methods of making requests; then, negotiating win-win solutions. To conclude, she told Women, “It’s not enuf to know good techniques from the neck-up. They have to be practiced many times before they become habits. Massive hands-on practice is needed before our safety brain feels safe and trusts a new method.

Women grasped this; they would need to start small; create and deliver a pilot project. Learn from it; then, do another. Where could they begin? They needed a way to congregate people of all ages and classes; especially, younger generations in high school and college, expose them to Best Interpersonal Methods for getting along; and then, practice, practice, practice. WHERE could they do this?

Why not in Women Summer Conference #2 in 2028?

SIDEBAR ~ Males: “What problem? What, me worry?”

Why didn’t male leaders address this obvious problem earlier? From the male perspective, the “heads-down generation” was “no problem.” The epidemic fear of interpersonal conflict was “nothing to worry about.” Were kids still earning corporations big profits with their spending? Yes? Were company stock prices rising? Yes. Then “no problem!”

In the USA, males acknowledged the rise in “smartphone addiction” in the young since 2008 especially. Yes, males imagined, “it could be true” a decline of interpersonal engagement was occurring, even between teens of similar ages. Yet as long as men’s stock portfolios still increased in value, this did not threaten “males on top.” So there was “nothing to do about it.” In this way, many male Frankenstein monsters were allowed to proliferate.

Of course many of these males were themselves fatherless boys, whose fathers had been absent physically and/or emotionally when they were children themselves.

dg- Alfred E. Neuman 1980s?

Historians ask each other, “When did the veneer of macho male stereotypes begin to crack?” Many think the cracks began to appear in the 1950s. The Beat Generation, the beatniks, were one expression of cracks in the rigid, over-charged, macho-male role identity. MAD magazine, initially Harvey Kurtzman’s comic book, attacked worn out male stereotypes. CRACKED Magazine made fun of predictable, superficial pop culture. Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow’s humanistic psychology (1955–1975) was another crack. All of these were artistic attempts to get at and remedy un-timely, male, left-hemisphere, one-sidedness.

Tho originally from the US Civil War period, the image of Alfred E. Neuman made his first appearance in MAD Magazine #26 as its foolish mascot. Alfred E. Neuman represented the limited, color-blind, one-sided, happy-go-lucky Homo-self-destructivus. Alfred’s picture always appeared with the tagline, “What, me worry?” Everything’s fine. There’s no problem.” He represented the male know-nothing, the absence and lack of personal accountability for the consequences of his choices and omissions. Alfred was the ludicrously, irresponsibly happy fool, unaware he’s about to step off a cliff, in denial about:

- the Cold War,

- poverty,

- civil rights and

- all other serious issues of the 1950s.

Alfred E. Neuman also stood for 1950s corporations, often in close collusion with governmental agencies, and crass Madison Avenue advertising (see the Madmen TV series). Male-led corporations labored to put a happy face on the “health benefits” of smoking cigarettes and the casual taking of all tranquilizers and over-the-counter medicines-remedies. “What, me worry? Everything’s fine.” This was the mindset of 1950s television, especially in its ads.

When interviewed about the period 1950–1990, historians summarize the response of corporations to how they and their ads were impacting younger generations. Their response? “To us, a child is primarily a young consumer to be trained in how to consume. Each contributes to growing the gross national domestic product. As long as this happens, there is no problem with our approach.”

Young minds, attentive to their age cohort, their “herd,” were the most susceptible to having their minds shaped. The result? Accelerated loneliness and individual isolation. Fear of toxic interpersonal conflict drove kids into the safety of corporate-controlled media bubbles.

The Corporations said, “Not our problem. As long as we’re earning big profits and our stock price is climbing, there’s no problem.”

The extreme endgame of the Heads-down phenomena was artistically portrayed in The Matrix movie (1998), the horrifying image of all human beings dominated by and exploited by corporate-run machines. Long ago, Noam Chomsky summed up the toxic values of the majority of colleges run like corporations: To corporations, there are no “children.” There are only “evolving consumers.” From a corporate perspective, the Heads-down Generation was a good thing: more consumers, consuming more.

The Emperor was naked — yet did not realize it. Males were failing. The male gender was bankrupt, increasingly morally and ethically reckless.

The growing phenomena of a Heads-down Lost Generations, our own children become living zombies, created a gathering storm, a gathering demand for large scale social change. To Women, younger generations paying more attention to screens than to each other, was no way for human beings to live at all.

NEXT ~ The giant re-awakened by the kiss of a woman




Health Intuitive, author in Los Angeles, CA

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Bruce Dickson

Bruce Dickson

Health Intuitive, author in Los Angeles, CA

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