Greetings to all of you - I’m honored to be able to join the discussion taking place in this exceptional forum.
I’m aware that what I am going to suggest may sound extremely controversial and speculative, but I’m hoping that you will hear me out with open minds and that we will be able to engage in a fruitful conversation.
To put the matter briefly - over the last decade or so I have become increasingly convinced that the people born from around 1980 to today (and in particular from 1986 to today) look strikingly different from all the previous generations going back to the early days of anatomically modern homo sapiens. More specifically, they look strikingly soft, childish, and almost underdeveloped, despite the fact that the oldest of them are already in their 30s, almost as if they belonged to a different species in the genus homo. What is even more striking is how abruptly this change in appearance came about - not evolutionarily, but revolutionarily, as it can be dated almost to the year (according to my estimations, ~1980 was the beginning of a kind of a transitional period in this regard, while from 1986 onwards only the “new type” is being born). Here are some photographs that may better illustrate what I have in mind, which compare the appearance of young people from past decades to the young people of today:
It’s particularly instructive to open these photographs in separate windows and compare them side by side. As far as I’m concerned, they clearly show that young people of the “old type” look incomparably more mature, well-developed, and - shall we say - dignified. Those of the “new type” look like overgrown children next to them. I believe that the only reason why this phenomenon is not more conspicuous is that currently we have the young people of the “new type” living next to the mature adults and old people of the “old type”, and we naturally assume that the differences in their appearance boil down to natural age differences and nothing apart from that. However, as far as I’m concerned, the above photographs clearly show that this is not the case.
Nor do I believe that my impression can be dismissed on the basis of “differences in lighting”, “differences in fashion” or even “differences in the harshness of living conditions”. The above photographs do not seem to me to be particularly fashion-sensitive or representative of different lighting techniques. And while for the previous generations the living conditions were indeed much harsher, they cannot account for the kind of striking differences in facial structure and overall physiognomic maturity that my evidence appears to demonstrate.
Finally, I do not believe that my sample can be dismissed as biased, since I have been unable to find virtually any counterexamples to my general observation (I know that actors dominate my set of examples, but that is purely because it is difficult to find notable individuals with clearly verifiable birthdates among people below 32 who are anything other than actors, musicians, or sportspeople). I invite you to make some similar comparisons by yourself and see whether you can sincerely deny that the same striking difference occurs over and over again.
In fact, it’s not only about the difference between the appearance of the “old type” and the “new type”, but also about the tone of their respective voices, almost as if their respective vocal chords were built differently. Here is another set of examples:
Once again, it seems quite striking to me that the voices of the representatives of the “old type” are very mature, deep, and sonorous, while those of the “new type” are invariably high-pitched, squeaky, and tonally “shallow” in comparison. And it seems clear to me that no amount of smoking, drinking or voice coaching could make a representative of the “new type” sound like a representative of the “old type”.
In conclusion, the best way I can describe the situation in order to do justice to my impressions is that it seems almost as if - to use the classical Aristotelian-Thomistic language - God decided to modify the form (or the formal cause) of humans about 40 years ago (my more detailed research on the matter points to the year ~1980 as the beginning of this process and the year 1986 as the final turning point). The material composition of the “old” and the “new” type is clearly the same - biology or any other natural science can recognize no qualitative difference in this context - and yet there is, as far as I’m concerned, a very subtle yet also very striking formal distinction between these two types, which can be demonstrated on the basis of the above examples, and which is, in fact, more easily demonstrable than describable. And since I can think of no purely “natural” factors (of, for instance, environmental character) that could explain the emergence of this new “formal type”, especially in view of its simultaneously radical and subtle discontinuity with the old “formal type”, I have to conclude that this phenomenon bears the hallmarks of a direct providential intervention, perhaps similar to the one that lead to the revolutionary emergence of behaviorally modern homo sapiens tens of thousands of years ago.
Furthermore, I believe that this “formal modification” has already led to some wide-ranging and significant psychological and cultural ramifications. The so-called “millennial generation” - roughly overlapping with what I described above as the “new type” - has been widely characterized as unprecedentedly infantile, emotionally immature, prone to psychological breakdowns, and unwilling to reach the standard “milestones” of adulthood. Again, it might be argued that this is due to the fact they have been pampered by the unprecedented wealth and technological gadgetry unavailable to any of the previous generations. However, such an explanation strikes me as inadequate and incomplete at best. My personal explanation is that this is exactly the kind of psychological profile that one might expect of individuals whose “formal constitution” appears so soft, childish, and fragile as compared with the “formal constitution” of the “old type”. This, in turn, leads me to the belief that the “formal modification” described above might be a kind of providential punishment reminiscent of the one meted out to humankind in the Tower of Babel episode (I do not treat the story of the Tower of Babel in the most crudely literal sense, but I believe that it was a real historical episode endowed with particular moral and spiritual signifcance). In other words, I believe that it might be case that by creating this new both physically and psychologically infantilized “formal type” of humans God may intend to slow down the material and technological development of human civilization in order to once again teach humankind a lesson in humility (or even prevent its self-destruction). Such a conclusion is, of course, even more controversial and speculative than the claim that the “formal modification” that I described above really did happen, so I shall refrain from drawing any detailed civilizational and cultural predictions from it. However, in view of all of my aforementioned observations, I believe that the times we are living in bear the hallmarks of striking providential activity in the ambit of the “formal aspects” of human nature.
As the interpretation of the adduced evidence ultimately depends on what I regard as one’s ability to notice exceedingly subtle differences in the formal (again, in the specialized Aristotelian-Thomistic sense) aspects of human appearance and behavior, I realize that my observations and conclusions may prove unpersuasive to the majority of you. However, I would be very grateful for the opportunity to discuss these matters with you, for your suggestions as to why and how I might be mistaken in them, and - if you do believe that I am right - what are the wider consequences of the historically unique (or at least very rare) phenomenon I’m describing.