I posted this as a response on a messageboard discussing the Lib Dem conference, and thought I'd repost here, as I feel quite strongly about it. This might make more sense if you read the original post by JacAbsolute and yahyah's response.
I'm JacAbsolute's daughter (aged 23, if it helps), and for the most part I agree with her original post, although I felt I should add, on behalf of the individualist, greedy, porn-downloading, young, politically-ignorant fools that we are, that many of us, recognising that the LibDems are still the best of a bad bunch - with their friends the Tory bullies and the frankly ridiculous Labour party - have decided to continue to hope. There is a lot of feeling at the moment among the 'youth' that there is nothing that we can do, politically speaking, so many have become cynics (though I suspect I hit 'cynic' at the age of 12) about the government and it's apparently fleeting interest in the country which it governs and the people within it. All we can do is work hard and hope that our wide future is less narrow than it currently looks.
So, I have this to say to Mr Clegg and his party. Do better. Please. For all of us.
"One of the things that is worrying about some young people is how they seem to have swallowed the whole 'I' and 'individualism' thing.
For a lot of them it's all about 'my right to download porn on my mobile while sitting on the bus', 'my right not to have to pay tax to keep some old crusty warm in the winter'. Not much about about helping those around them and contributing to the old age of those who paid for their schooling and child benefit."
I'm sorry yahyah, but your comment smacks a little of bitterness.
Although I am an individual, I am also very well aware that I am part of a community - something which appears to have escaped the attention of all too many people of every generation. It's about hitting a balance between the freedom of the individual and the good of the community. ie. I do not wish to be told how to dress, but nor will I wear a skirt that is closer to a belt and top that is closer to a bra to attend a primary school fete.
For the record, I'm relatively sure that the bus is not the venue of choice for the downloading of porn on a mobile or any other device - it's not really a spectator sport after all. That said, there is, as you said, little care or common courtesy for others around at the moment - and far too much greed. But I would like to make it plain: this is not the luxury of a dissaffected, individualist youth. People of all ages have 'bought into' what you refer to as the individualist lifestyle, and frankly, it sickens me. I think it is a product of the lifestyle that is sold to us through advertising and the media - one recent advert encouraging viewers to 'be impatient' because, apparently, patience makes you boring rather than polite.
To address why it seems more obvious in the youth of today: perhaps this is because those of our parents' generation who have accepted this lifestyle of 'me,me, me!' have taught it to their children. We do learn by example, after all.
For example, my grandparents saved up, built their own house, inherited their phone number from their parents and never threw anything away - Grandad still has a vacuum from possibly the 1930s in working condition. When they needed anything new, they saved up and bought what would last; if they wanted a gift to be something special, they made it themselves. They also, when Mum would let them, spoiled me rotten. I'm trying really hard to live the same way, but I have become used to the 'disposable': buying clothes from primark because they're cheap and knowing that they'll be unwearable in three months because the fabric will go funny in the wash (though I'm still battling with a couple of shirts that have survived, against the odds), throwing things out instead of taking the time to fix and maintain them, letting picked fruit go off instead of making jams (though in my defence, I had a distinct lack of jars and a deadline to meet).
We are a product of our time (even Lady Gaga and Lily Allen have sung about it), but that does not mean that we should not struggle against it. I'm not saying 'you made us this way, now live with it', but please, accept some part of this and help us struggle on instead of making lofty statements about how we're all self-centred and anti-community.
Perhaps I'm wierd, but for me, phone app's and the latest bling aren't what make my world go around; family, friends, people helping each other and the turn of the seasons are enough. Failing that, a hot bath and a good book.
Feel free to disagree!