DEAR READERS: If there’s one word to define this generation, it’s “distracted.” Smartphones, video games, online porn, surround-media blasting messages mostly making bad stuff look good. Magicians rely on distraction to perform their tricks. This helps explain how our national wealth was redistributed to the very rich with hardly any kickback from what are usually society’s young warriors. The other defining word for this generation is “stressed.” Electronically overstimulated, insecurely attached, nature-deprived, spiritually bereft, always on display, never good enough — they didn’t create this posttraumatic stress disorder upbringing, they were given it.

Last week’s gripes centered on media glorification of negative social roles, the so-named bisexual “fad,” and the cult of self-harm. Today, this highly perceptive generation talks mostly about the stressors and distractions they must navigate.

— Lauren

Katie, 20, Auburn: The phones! Seriously, you can’t go a few hours without your device? I get that you need to communicate or that sometimes you’re waiting for news, but every single second? I’m on dates where the “gentleman” is mostly interested in his phone.

Breele, 20, Dana Point: Video games have stolen our guys. Some boys can balance gaming with socializing and work/ school, but millions can’t. They become demotivated and dull. I actually threw my brother’s XBox in the pool. He later thanked me for getting his life back.

Colin, 20, Sacramento: My top complaint about this generation is apathy. I see news coverage of frequent mass protests in other countries and think, “Why not us?” There’s so much broken in our political system — but almost nobody is angry! I wish people actually cared about something!

Ochatre, 24, Kampala, Uganda:

What bothers me is lack of collective responsibility in solving community issues.

Chris, 25, Washington, D.C.: What bugs me is the perception that my generation has it easy and is less motivated than our parents. Our drive is fine. It’s just that now, trying to launch, we have it harder than our parents did! There is a fiercely competitive job market, much higher living costs, and constant media bombardment of what the “good life” looks like.

Gregg, 22, Los Angeles: My peeve: Poor communication. Ironic, I know, but we have the hardest time exchanging more than . . . on our state-of-the-art devices. So often I ask a question and get a thread of chitchat back — the question being ignored! What’s so great about high-tech if we don’t use it for anything important?

Moriah, 17, Rutland, Vt.: I’m fed up with girls who believe it’s their job to dress so as not to be labeled a “slut” or to protect others from “temptation”. I’m appalled by how many times I’ve heard, “I mean her skirt was so short, what did she expect?” I’ve been told way too many times not to wear “those” shorts, or to fix my top because “that guy is looking.” The idea that our bodies are sinful and dangerous — that’s what’s dangerous.

Katelyn, 19, Huntington Beach:

Black-and-white thinking: For many in my generation, love means, “I accept everything about you,” and tolerance means, “I never disagree with you.” People are quickly labeled “hateful” or “bigoted” simply for holding a different view. Rudeness: Others think being rude is normal. They cut down their peers then wonder why everyone is so “sensitive.” Poor reading and writing skills: I shouldn’t have to stamp my posts with tl;dr (too long don’t read), or need a slang dictionary to read yours. When peer-reviewing college writings, I cringe at the confusion between “to,” “too,” and “two.” Twisted sexuality: I don’t have to be thin, wear short-shorts or lose my virginity to be whole. Unfortunately, I often feel like yelling, “I don’t shame you, so don’t shame me!”

Straight Talk is a nonprofit that tackles youth’s toughest issues with youth’s wisest advice. Go deeper in today’s conversation or ask a question at or P.O. Box 1974 Sebastopol 95473.

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