It seems each generation has an identifying title: Baby Boomers, Flower Power and Generation X come to mind.
I often wonder how our current young Americans will be remembered in the future. What will our legacy be?
Unfortunately, I don't have a good feeling about how this story will end. If the current trend continues, I'm afraid we'll be known as Generation Apathy.
Last week while making an appearance on the "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," CBS News' lead foreign correspondent Lara Logan said she felt personally responsible for the lack of the knowledge the American public has regarding the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Logan told Stewart that no matter how much she pushes for more war coverage, network news stations no longer feel it deserves much more than a minute or two of coverage each night.
I see the bigger problem as this: even if there were more coverage, how many people would even bother to tune in and watch? (Or read about it, for that matter...)
Just for laughs, I thought I'd look at the latest Nielsen ratings for the week of June 16, 2008. The results were neither shocking nor encouraging. The top rated event of the week was game six of the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers. I'm OK with that -- major sporting events happen only a few times a year and have historically garnered big ratings and lots of attention.
What I'm not OK with: four reality shows are in the top 10 most watched programs for the week. Seriously people, American does NOT have talent. If they do, the budding stars already signed with Sony and will be coming to an iTunes store near you. (There was an encouraging sign, two news magazines -- "60 Minutes" and "Dateline NBC" --also landed in the top 10.)
We live in a tumultuous world rife with hot topics. The wars on terror, an upcoming presidential election, poverty, famine, civil war and genocide in Africa and other developing countries, but how many of us pay attention?
It makes me angry and sick to think that my generation -- a generation who grew up with more access to information and education than any other before us -- cares so little to do anything with it.
I cannot remember the last time I had a discussion about something other than the Brewers, Britney, or whether or not I'm a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance?" (No, I am not. I do not watch "reality" TV because I have my own life, thank you very much.)
I often hear people complaining about high gas prices and ﬂooded basements, but a conversation on why we're paying $4.09 a gallon or how our weather got so out of whack never evolves from the rants.
I realize that politics and religion are touchy subjects. Most of us were taught from a young age to stay as far away as possible from controversy in a public forum.
I no longer agree.
Although I do not want heated arguments every time I'm trying to enjoy a beer and watch the game, an occasional discussion about something other than an insignificant pop superstar would be a welcome change. Imagine the knowledge we could gain if we listened to the other side and began to pay attention to issues that go beyond the benign and further than our front door.
Think about it for a second. If for just 10 minutes a day you put down "US Weekly" (or any other gossip rag) and picked up a newspaper and read the front page (gasp!), or instead of watching "The Soup" you tuned into "The Situation Room," the knowledge one would gain might be enough to force us to act.
Information is power.
I'm not suggesting we all meet in Cathedral Square, put flowers in our hair and protest for change, but lets at least start a discussion on the direction our world is headed and how we can alter its course where necessary. I can't imagine I'm the only person who is embarrassed that most young people don't know where Warziristan is and the major part it plays in the war on terror? I'm almost positive I'm not the only one appalled that it costs $45 to fill up a Honda Civic and realize that if the two parties would TALK and COMPROMISE, we might not be in this mess. I'm also 100 percent sure I'm not the only person who cares more about the state of the world than Lindsey Lohan's hoo-ha.
Do me one favor this summer while you're sipping wine at Jazz in the Park. Talk. Discuss. Argue. Take ownership of the democracy you are privileged in which to live. Do you really want to be remembered as the generation of Paula, Paris and Paparazzi?
I didn't think so.
Trenni Kusnierek is a sports reporter and radio host who has worked for networks such as ABC, Big Ten, MLB, and NFL. She is currently on 540 ESPN in Milwaukee on both the D-List and Broad Side. Kusnierek is also freelance writing and reporting until January, when she will leave on a service trip to India.
A graduate of Marquette University, she holds a degree in Broadcast and Electronic Journalism. An avid marathon runner, Kusnierek qualified for the 2010 Boston Marathon by running a 3:37:02 at the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee.