I am writing to ask what has happened to our young people. They are not as polite or hard-working as
my generation (一代人). I will give you two examples.
Last Friday, I got on the underground at 9:15 a.m. It was very crowded so there was no free seat. There
were some boys sitting on the seats near me. I didn't know why they were not at school. They were talking
and laughing loudly. It was difficult for me to read my newspaper with all the noise. At the next stop, a
pregnant (怀孕的) woman and her daughter got on with lots of shopping bags. I expected the boys to let them
sit down. They saw the woman but they did nothing. I had to ask them to give the woman and her daughter
seats. They did so but gave me a rude look.
Last Saturday, I had dinner with my friend's family. I was glad to see his children, who I hadn't seen for
ten years. During the dinner, I started talking about world politics with the children. It soon became clear that
they didn't know much about it. They couldn't tell me the name of the King of Spain or President of Italy. All
they knew about was the Internet or which singers were the most beautiful. In my days, students knew the
kings, the queens and the presidents of every country in Europe.
I worry about the future of Germany. How could these young people become good workers and parents?
They sit around Mcdonald's after school instead of going to the library as I did at their age. Maybe they have
too much money. Perhaps some readers can give us some ideas about what to do with this "lost generation".
Until late in the 20th century most Americans spent time with people of different generations. Now
middle-aged Americans may not keep in touch with old people until they are old themselves.
That's because we group people by age. We put our three-year-olds together in day-care centers, our
13-year-olds in schools and sport activities, and our 80-year-olds in senior citizen homes. Why?
We live far away from the old for many reasons. Young people sometimes avoid the old to get rid of
fears of aging and dying. It is much harder to watch someone we love disappear before our eyes. Sometimes
it's got hard that we stay away from the people who need us the most.
Fortunately, some of us have found our way to the old. And we have discovered that they often save
A reporter moved her family into a block filled with old people. At first her children were disappointed.
But the reporter baked banana bread for the neighbors and had her children deliver it and visit them. Soon
the children had many new friends, with whom they shared food, stories and projects. "My children have
never been lonely," the reporter said.
The young, in turn, save the old. Once I was in a rest home (养老院) when a visitor showed up with
a baby, she was immediately surrounded. People who hadn't gotten out of bed in a week suddenly were
ringing for a wheelchair. Even those who had seemed asleep woke up to watch the child. Babies have an
astonishing power to comfort and cure.
Grandparents are a special case. They give their grandchildren a feeling of security and continuity. As
my husband put it "My grandparents gave me a deep sense that things would turn out right in the end."
Grandchildren speak of attention they don't get from worried parents. "My parents were always telling me
to hurry up, and my grandparents told me to slow down," one friend said. A teacher told me she can tell
which pupils have relationships with grandparents: they are quieter, calmer and more trusting.
Celebrity (名人) has become one of the most important representatives of popular culture. Fans used
to be crazy about specific film, but now the public tends to base its consumption (消费) on the interest of
celebrity attached to any given product. Besides, fashion magazines have almost abandoned the practice of
putting models on the cover because they don't sell nearly as well as famous faces. As a result, celebrities
have realized their unbelievably powerful market potential, moving from advertising for others' products to
developing their own.
Celebrity clothing lines aren't a completely new phenomenon, but in the past they were typically aimed
at the ordinary consumers, and limited to a few TV actresses. Today they're started by first-class stars
whose products enjoy equal fame with some world top brands. The most successful start-ups have been
those by celebrities with specific personal style. As celebrities become more and more experienced at the
market, they expand their production scale rapidly, covering almost all the products of daily life.
However, for every success story, there's a related warning tale of a celebrity who overvalued his
consumer appeal. No matter how famous the product's origins is, if it fails to impress consumers with its
own qualities it begins to resemble an exercise in self-promotional marketing. And once the initial (最初的)
attention dies down, consumer interest might fade, loyalty (忠诚) returning to tried-and-true labels.
Today, celebrities face even more severe embarrassment. The pop-cultural circle might be bigger than
ever, but its rate of turnover has speeded up as well. Each misstep threatens to reduce a celebrity's shelf life,
and the same newspaper or magazine that once brought him fame has no problem picking him to pieces when
the opportunity appears. Still, the ego's (自我的) potential for expansion is limitless. Having already achieved
great wealth and public recognition, many celebrities see fashion as the next frontier to be conquered. As the
saying goes, success and failure always go hand in hand. Their success as designers might last only a short
time, but fashion-like celebrity-has always been temporary.
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