“Never mind the gibberish of Mystics & Astrologers, this is the Generation that was born into the Richest Economy in the history of the world. They were born rich & Powerful, the certifiable Aristocrats of a new & Amazing century.”

Hunter S. Thompson calls us “Generation Z,” and the old cokehead has not lost his edge. Although his weekly columns are one of the few redeeming features of espn.com, Generation Z is the grossest kind of understatement for my peers. Boys and girls, take a look at the toys and the lifestyle. Our motto should be, “Because We Can, Motherfucker.”

There’s a tone of jealousy in Thompson’s column, and no small amount of contempt. The cure for this jealousy is hidden somewhere in those 3 billion bases of our DNA, and for the first time in history, we have the little bastard. The “20 somethings” of America stand a good chance of living forever or, at least, not dying for a very, very long time. Like always, it comes down to time, and Thompson’s crew is running preciously short. I would be bitchy, too.

But how could I be? Not with this brand new Sony Vaio perched delicately on my lap like a tablet of Doom[DN1]. It can control a missile defense system, overthrow a small Third World government’s banking system and download pornography at an incredible rate – all in just under seven pounds. It’s dense the way a gun is dense; it’s like Superman squished a mountain in there. A little humming mountain with a DVD player, oh yeah.

Hunter swore off computers for his typewriter, claiming microchips disconnected the writer from his work. It was a fatal error on his part and no doubt a function of his cohorts’ contemptible appreciation for stability.

This century is all about change (as fast as possible, please). Generation Z understands this. Ray Kurzweil calls these bizarre times the “elbow” of the exponential curve, but that’s just math jargon for the obvious.

“We have seen Weird Times in this country before, but the year 2000 is beginning to look super weird. This time, there really is nobody flying the plane.”

Articulate prophecy from an acidhead. The Paranoia and Dread of these times is analogous to that sinking feeling – that testicles-in-your-throat sensation as the roller coaster first plummets. Everyone, put your hands up. Make sure to scream real loud (like at the Inquisition).

We all swallowed hard on election night, some of us for the completely wrong reasons. And Dubya is only the initial lurch.

“Someone’s got to set the agenda. I’ve been waiting all my life to have a Republican president and a Republican Congress,” said Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.

And then the fourth angel opened his vial and one-third of all minorities with poor legal representation were smitten. The Lord saw this and said, “It is good.”

The Great Schism is back in style, folks; this time the Pope’s smoked dope. Such is the fickleness of America. A couple months ago only the rich and the terminally insane wanted Gore or Bush, now the elderly rejoice in the streets and College Republicans walk around with the kind of smug assurance that makes me want to kick their teeth in.

And Generation Z, what did we do on Election Day? We smoked two bowls and voted Nader because it would have been funny. Next time we’re going to vote Jesse “the mind” Ventura because that would be funny, too. Even worse, we’re going to get him elected and then make him legalize prostitution, drugs and gambling.

Generation Z has very little of what would be called traditional morality. Nevertheless, a striking Entertainment Ethic exists. We know what’s funny. We know what we’ll watch. Don’t mess around with the plot, give us the carnage.

It’s important to keep some perspective, though. There have been many Generation Zs throughout the ages, and we are but the latest mutation – inheritors of Empires, version 46.0. The young, rich Romans would only patronize the Coliseum after 3 p.m., when their wine hangovers had lifted and the gladiator death battles were starting up. I, too, prefer an alarm clock set for noon and all movies
Rated R.

In a global sense, we are that mystical, inherently temporary group – the aristocracy of the world. It’s a good place to be, so long as one doesn’t forget the corollary. Empires fall and aristocracy gets the axe in the end. The meek shall not inherit the earth.

Rome took a while to fall, but in the age of exponential change we may not be able to check out before the whole thing collapses. And it would be our unique lot in life to live long, long lives watching it all go to poop. We’d kind of deserve it, if for nothing more than all the times we changed the channel on starving Somalian kids.

Daily Friday and Features editor David Downs is in bad need of a light saber to hack and trailblaze his way through the techno jungle – to boldly go where no man has gone before, toward new horizons with an LCD shine.