I’ve officially gotten to that age. I believe it is in your late 20s when you start to properly feel that enough time has passed since your teenage years that you can start calling today’s teenagers “the younger generation” and, when you hear the word “kids” or “young people”, you no longer assume that people are talking about you and your peers. To this effect, I have seen a spike in the “can you believe kids these days” conversations, rants and posts from my former classmates on facebook. Generally speaking, they all follow a common theme. Here are two prime examples:
Somehow, I seem to be the only one of my peers who actually remembers what it was like to be a teenager. I remember loathing these kinds of rants designed to shit all over me and my generation, and I doubt that the current one appreciates them much either. As for the first meme, I remember there being popular, professionally made-up and mature kids in my middle and high schools too, as well as their dorky childish counterparts. As far as I can tell, there are plenty of 14 year olds which fit that category today as well, but perhaps today’s adults find them just as invisible as the kids they went to school with found them when they were 14. As for the second meme, I can see this existing for every generation that came before me. Keep the left panel identical, but for my generation it would have been a kid sitting in front of a computer in the right one, for the generation before that in front of a videogame, for the one before that in front of a TV, and so on. We all seem to remember our childhoods as those excursions into the woods, or at the beach, or stomping through puddles, and forget that we were abused continuously for using whatever technological innovation was available at the time. We forget that we, too, rolled our eyes at parents who moaned about our computers, or the internet, or gameboys, and how they never had any of that growing up, except all the things they did have that their parents bitched at them about for using, of course.
I suppose my point is: can we all just stop? Can we stop bitching about how kids choose to have fun and entertain themselves? Can we stop trying to force the next generation to have exactly the same childhood that we had? We might look back on it fondly, and love those memories, but that does not mean that different memories will not be looked back on with equal fondness by future generations. If you actually have your own kids, go ahead and try to make sure that they get enough exercise and fresh air, and that they make friends and are happy. If you don’t have kids, keep your moaning to yourself, because the point of kids is not to recapture your own childhood through them. They are actual people, with their own personalities and minds. And try, just try, to remember how you felt when adults crapped on your fun and moaned that you were not the same as they were when they were kids. Remember your fierce promises to yourself that you wouldn’t become such a lame, inconsiderate and condescending adult. How are you doing with that promise so far?