I love Debbie Gibson, her music has always been very uplifting and optimistic. I especially like her song “Electric Youth.” It tells the optimistic story of the kids growing up in the 80’s that will become the next generation of Americans. This weekend I was coming back from a wedding so I was on a long road trip. As is my usual practice I put one my favorite road trip play list which includes several Debbie Gibson songs. As I was listening to the lyrics to Electric Youth I realized the song was made 30 years ago, the message doesn’t really hold true, she was singing about my generation and while I won’t go so far as say we are the worst generation, I think the optimism and carefree anything goes attitude of the song is not at all a defining trait of our generation. Maybe I am taking the lyrics to literal but the message was always this generation coming is the future and the future is bright. If she could go back in time she might tell her record produce, “I can’t sing those lyrics, their so far from true.”
I don’t know how I didn’t see this coming. In the 80’s we were all into Atari and Nintendo, Nintendo might sort of still be around, they are not at all what they were in the 80’s Optimism for the future dies just from an 80’s gamer perspective when you realize that as far as Nintendo has fallen, at least their still around, when you look at what happened to Atari, heck most people today don’t even remember Atari.
I can’t blame her though, as a teenager in the greatest most carefree decade our nation has seen in a very long time it makes sense she would have been optimistic for the generation that was coming up. But that generation, known as the Millennials, are one of the most pessimistic, narcissistic generation, probably ever, in our country. I am not going to complain to much, I am a part of this generation and I see we have done a lot of good things, but I am not optimistic for the future as much looking at this current presidential election cycle. She got one thing right in the song though, the generation was electric for sure. Maybe not in the youthful, carefree, optimistic way she intended but with our over reliance on technology, smart phones, smart watches, social media, we are more electric today than at any point in history.
I am not saying that I can no longer listen to the song and inspire a hopeful sense of the future, it’s been 30 years that future is here and it’s not as carefree as the 80’s were. Or at least how I remember them. I know every decade has it’s troubles but I just feel like this current generation coming up now isn’t as carefree as we were, as optimistic as we were or even having as much fun as we did. I think they have settled for mediocrity and accepted that things are what they are. I am not sure there is any reason to think it’s the end of the world, just that it’s not as “electrifying” as the song I used to really appreciate described. Today when I listen to the song it won’t illicit emotions of optimism for the future, instead I suspect it will only cause me to reminisce about the past. Of course personally I am optimistic about the future, my own future at least, as I have always been a mostly optimistic person. Hopefully once the election is done things will get back to normal and I will then get back to a point where the song won’t make me sad I had to see so many good things get replaced by less good things.
At the end of the day, I still enjoy her music and the songs are still fun to listen to as is most 80’s dance/pop music, it’s just the message is slightly altered now that we are 30 years into the future. On the plus side, Sony just released their Playstation VR and Nintendo is gearing up to launch a brand new game console that I am optimistic for, so there is still some hope.