The American Teen-ager
Why Generation Y?
The final reason for the teen renaissance is boomer self-obsession. A pervasive theme of Generation Y is that it is growing up just as the boomers did: prosperous, happy, well-adjusted. If you consume teen culture at all, you have surely noticed the remarkable number of sympathetic parents around. Today's TV parents are wisdom figures, not the adult buffoons we have grown accustomed to. Similarly, articles about Gen Y--many written by boomer parents--are fulsome about how well boomers are raising their tots, how intimately parents and kids communicate, and how much kids admire mom and dad. The "surprising fact" that pops up in almost every Gen Y story is a survey in which teens named parents as their favorite role models. (I would bet that every survey of teens taken since Cain and Abel found that they named parents as their favorite role models.)
Boomers, whose self-absorption has long been ridiculed, have finally managed to get over themselves. They have found a new object of their affection. They don't need self-love anymore. They've got Mini-Me.
David Plotz is the Editor of Slate. He's the author of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank and Good Book. He appears on Slate's Political Gabfest.