Cary Tennis considers life's most pressing questions in audio form most every week on Salon.
This week he's been reading the many letters to the "Since You Asked" advice column about what it's like to be young today, and what the aging boomer generation looks like to those in their 20s. He notices that the '60s seem to have been portrayed as a carefree, happy time, leading the youth to believe that all that twirling around in meadows and wearing of flowers meant that everybody was just kicking back and having a good time. But he remembers the '60s as a dark and frightening era on the edge of apocalypse. All that frenetic energy, all that running from coast to coast and hair-growing and face-painting, didn't seem to arise out of exuberance but instead out of a very energetic and youthful hopelessness.
Maybe he just had a bad attitude. Maybe he got a defective mantra. But maybe, if you look closely at the faces in those old Life magazine photos, you'll see the nihilism, the confusion, the fear of nuclear winter.