The photo controversy showing the soldiers on a funeral posing wildly in front of a flag draped coffin got me thinking about something. It got me thinking about self expression and how it evolves from generation to generation.
Take for instance the 1960s. People then used rioting, parading and socializing to protest harsh authority and rigid, stuffy rules. They wanted to break out of the old mold and revolutionize the way people thought and lived in America. When confronted with their idea of self-expression they asked their parents: When are you going to listen to our generation?
The 1980s was another time of self-expression. This time it was more through music. The music was loud and it came with some extreme forms of dress and self-expression. Parents rose up in opposition citing the music was evil, satanic and an influence toward violence and drugs. When confronted with their idea of self-expression the youth asked their parents: When are you going to listen to our generation?
In the 1990s and 2000s people started self-expressing with body art and of course they were met with opposition. People with tattoos, long hair and piercings will not be able to get a job, they said. When confronted with their idea of self-expression they asked their parents: When are you going to listen to our generation?
Currently the new form of self-expression is through photo media and social media sites. People can really self-express in ways that were unimaginable in the 1960s, the 1980s or even the 2000s. Youth are breaking out of old molds, looking at their own history and re-defining self-expression in some very creative ways. When confronted with their idea of self-expression they ask their parents: When are you going to listen to our generation?
Historians in the future will have to decipher the meanings of the change in self-expression and how those expressions influenced or changed society. One thing is certain and that is each generation chooses to self-express but forget that when they were young they created controversial new ways of self-expression too. What might offend us now may be the new normal twenty or fifty years from now. Those in the future will look back and ask why we were so opposed to that new normal. Just like we do when we look at our history and ponder why youth did what they did to self-express themselves in the past. The important thing is that each generation learns something about themselves, their past and their future. They take what they learned and create a new normal. The history that is made will mean something in the future to someone who asks why it happened.