纽约时报双语版-年轻人主导的这十年

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This Decade of Disillusion

年轻人主导的这十年

纽约时报双语版-年轻人主导的这十年

9月20日,在纽约举行的全球气候抗议活动中,游行者参加了由格蕾塔·桑伯格发起的集会。
Damon Winter/The New York Times

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There are eras in history, like the 1950s, when older people set the cultural and moral terms for the young. And there are eras, like the 1960s, when it’s the other way around.

历史上有些时代是年纪大的人为年轻人设定文化和道德标准,比如1950年代。也有些时代恰恰相反,比如1960年代。

The current decade has been in the latter mold. Its true beginning was Dec. 17, 2010, when a 26-year-old street vendor in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire, setting off protests that quickly toppled governments across the region. Now it approaches its end with the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg named Time’s Person of the Year.

当前的这个十年属于后一种类型。它的确切起点是2010年12月17日,那天,突尼斯街头一名26岁的小贩穆罕默德·布瓦吉吉(Mohamed Bouazizi)自焚,引发了抗议活动,导致整个中东地区的政府一个接一个被推翻。如今,随着16岁的瑞典气候活动人士格蕾塔·桑伯格(Greta Thunberg)被《时代》周刊评为年度人物,这个十年进入尾声。

In between, the decade has been fundamentally shaped by the technological creations of the young, in the form of social media and mobile apps; by the mass migrations of the young, from Africa and the Middle East to Europe and from Latin America to the U.S.; by the diseases of the (mostly) young, notably addiction and mental illness; and by the moral convictions of the young, from the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements in the U.S. to mass demonstrations from Cairo to Hong Kong.

从开头到结尾,这个十年被年轻人的技术发明从根本上改变了,比如社交媒体和移动应用;被大量从非洲和中东到欧洲、从拉丁美洲到美国的年轻移民从根本上改变了;被(主要是)年轻人的疾病从根本上改变了,尤其是上瘾症和精神疾病;被年轻人的道德信念从根本上改变了,从美国的“我也是”(#MeToo)和“黑人的命也是命”(Black Lives Matter)运动、到从开罗至香港的大规模示威活动。

Why and how did the young dominate the decade? Let’s narrow the focus to America.

年轻人为什么,并且如何主导了这个十年呢?让我们把焦点缩小到美国。

Demography first. What history usually thinks of as “the sixties” (beginning around 1964 with the Civil Rights Act and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution) coincided, in the United States, with the coming-of-age of the baby boomers, roughly 75 million strong. Our current decade coincides with the coming-of-age of millennials, another generation of about 80 million. More people, more power — or at least more influence. By comparison, my generation, the underwhelming Generation X, numbers only 65 million.

首先是人口构成方面的原因。在美国,历史上认为的“60年代”(大约以1964年通过《民权法案》[Civil Rights Act]和《东京湾决议案》[Gulf of Tonkin Resolution]为起点),与婴儿潮时期出生的7500万人走入成年同时到来。我们当前的这个十年恰逢千禧一代的成年,他们又是约有8000万人的一代。人越多,权力越大——或者至少影响力越大。相比之下,我这一代,也就是索然无味的X一代,只有6500万人。

Next, anger. History is often a series of reactions and counterreactions. We remember the nonconformism of the 60s as a response to the conformism of the 50s. This decade, too, has been a reaction to the last: to two wars that began in moral fervors and ended in strategic fizzles; and to a financial crisis whose victims numbered in the millions and for which nobody accepted blame.

其次是愤怒。历史往往由一系列的反应与逆反应构成。我们记得,60年代的不守成规是对50年代墨守成规的反应。这个十年也是对上个十年的反应:对两场始于道德狂热、终于战略失败的战争的反应;对一场有好几百万受害者、却无人承认责任的金融危机的反应。

Not surprisingly, this decade has been marked by the intense hostility of the young toward truisms that once governed our thinking. As they saw it, the liberal international order didn’t uphold the peace — it bled us dry. Capitalism didn’t make the country rich — it made the rich richer. Silicon Valley didn’t innovate technology — it mined our data. The Church didn’t save souls — it raped children. The cops didn’t serve and protect — they profiled and killed. The media didn’t tell the news — they spun it.

毫不奇怪,这个十年的标志是年轻人对曾经支配我们思维的老生常谈的强烈敌意。在他们看来,自由主义国际秩序没有维护和平,而是榨干我们的血汗。资本主义没有使国家富裕,而是让富人更富有。硅谷没有从事技术创新,而是挖掘我们的数据。教会没有拯救灵魂,而是强奸儿童。警察没有为民众提供服务和保护,而是按外表把人作为怀疑对象,杀害无辜。媒体不是在报道消息,而是在编造消息。

This hostility isn’t manifest just on the progressive left. It also accounts for the rise of the populist right.

这种敌意不仅体现在进步的左翼身上,也是民粹主义右翼崛起的原因。

As for tech, not only did the young invent and shape social media, social media shaped and reinvented the young. This was the decade when algorithms meant to cater to our tastes succeeded mainly in narrowing those tastes; when the creation of online communities led to our Balkanization into online tribes and the dissemination of disinformation and hate; when digital connection deepened our personal isolation, vulnerability and suggestibility; and when the ubiquity of portable screens with infinite data meant there was always something more interesting to do than interact with the person before us.

至于技术,年轻人不仅发明和塑造了社交媒体,社交媒体也塑造并改变了年轻人。这十年,算法以迎合我们的喜好为目标,其主要成就只是令我们的喜好变窄;网络社区的建立导致我们分裂成网络部落,并且传播虚假信息和仇恨;数字连接加深了个体的隔离,令我们更脆弱、更容易受影响;无处不在的便携式屏幕带来无限的数据,意味着比起同我们面前的人交流,总有更有趣的事情可以做。

One result has been a kind of shallowing of our inner life: of time spent wondering, wandering, reading, daydreaming and just thinking things over. Another result has been a shallowing of our political life via the replacement of wit with snark and of reasoned arguments with rapid-fire tweets and hot takes.

一个结果是,我们的内心世界变得肤浅:我们花在思考、徘徊、阅读、做白日梦,以及仔细考虑某事的时间少了。另一个结果是,由于巧妙的措辞被讽刺挖苦取代、理性的辩论被连珠炮式的推文和热门意见取代,我们的政治生活变肤浅了。

Technology had another effect: It vastly accelerated the speed with which previously outlying ideas became, in the hands of their mainly youthful advocates, moral certitudes.

技术还有另一个作用:它极大地加快了以前的边缘想法变成道德信念的速度,这些想法的倡导者主要是年轻人。

Some of those ideas, like marriage equality (the single greatest moral victory of the decade) were long overdue. Others, like intersectionality, gender fluidity, new standards of sexual consent or the purported centrality of racism to American identity, are much more debatable. Moral certitude isn’t the exclusive posture of the young. But it is an easier one to hold when life hasn’t yet given you sufficient time to leaven idealism with experience, second-guess yourself and learn that the things you once thought were most true aren’t quite so.

这些想法当中,有的早该成为信念,比如同性婚姻的平等权利(这是这个十年里最伟大的道德胜利)。还有的仍具更多争议,比如族裔、阶层、性别等社会界定的交叉性、性别流动性、性行为许可的新标准,或种族主义在美国身份认同中据称占有的中心地位等。道德信念并非年轻人独有的态度。但这只是一种轻松的姿态,除非生活已经给了你足够时间,让你用亲身经历为理想主义增色,让你重新评估自己,认识到一些你曾经认为最真实的事情并非如此。

As with any decade, this one contains paradoxes and countercurrents. One paradox is the election of the oldest president in history. Yet Donald Trump, a baby boomer, embodies the spirit of the time as much as he rejects it, not least in his mastery of social media and the cynical, suspicious and angry nature of his politics.

与任何一个十年一样,这个十年也充满了矛盾和逆流。一个矛盾是选举产生了历史上年龄最大的总统。不过,婴儿潮一代的唐纳德·特朗普虽然竭力反对时代精神,但也是时代精神的体现,尤其表现在他对社交媒体的熟练掌握,以及他的政治中见利忘义、多疑和愤怒的本质上。

One countercurrent is that some movements that have animated the decade are, at bottom, old-fashioned. So-called third-wave feminism contains a powerful streak of Victorianism. Similarly, the “resistance” to Trump is partly founded on the belief that moral character matters to presidential fitness, and that this president falls radically short.

一个逆流是,使这个十年里具有活力的一些运动本质上是守旧的。所谓的第三波女权主义中包含着一种强大的维多利亚时代特征。同样,对特朗普的“抵制”部分建立在这样一种信念上,即道德品质对适合做总统至关重要,而现任总统根本没有达到这个标准。

Pedantic readers of this column will note that the decade won’t really end until Dec. 31, 2020. They’re right. We have a year to go before we can render a more final judgment on this decade of disillusion, and to begin to sense what comes next.

较真的本专栏读者会指出,这个十年真正结束的日子是2020年12月31日。他们没错。我们还要再过一年,才能对这个使幻想破灭的十年做出更最终的评判,并且开始感觉到接下来会发生什么。

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