Those Kids Today…

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:

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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?



  1. says

    I’m so with you. My personal life-time goal: never become one of the “get off my lawn” adults.

    I remember that when I was about 12 I looked like somebody had punched me in the face because I thought that green eyeshadow was for me.
    I also remember being glued to my gameboy.
    I can also safely say that kids still have an enormous amount of fun with mud and water. If you don’t believe me I’ll send you their laundry.

  2. applehead says

    So… the message of the first image is that today’s youth is sexier and has access to mobile phones? Probably says more about the creator than the portrayed.

  3. says

    I discovered my high school’s sole computer (computers in high schools were really rare in 1975) and so I was the kid who wasn’t out playing football and getting concussions, I learned how to program and how computers worked. It actually worked out pretty well for me. I also spent a great deal of time playing a game I invented called “Intrepid Explorer” in which I would find a creek or something and try to find its source. I got muddy, bramble-torn, infected (occasionally), leeched (once!) and memorably caught in barbed wire. I flew kites a lot. And climbed and did some illicit exploration of caves and ruins. The playing with computers led to a successful career and the other stuff left some scars and, well, it’s all good. My parents used to complain that I spent too much time playing Dungeons and Dragons and messing with computers, but it was how I learned strategy, tactics, and risk assessment. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that they were still worried that I was a failure – all that farting around with computers, you know? I hadn’t ever told my parents anything about what I did for a living, so I finally sat down and tied all the pieces of how my childhood interests fed into what I wound up doing and that it had all worked out more or less OK.

    Some of those kids texting back and forth may learn communication skills that make them powerful or better or change the world for the better or worse. It’s all just skills – and at the time we learn them, we can’t tell which will be valuable and when.

    I’m loathe to value one type of experience over another, until a person’s life pans out and then maybe we can say “oops, spent too much time doing X instead of Y” but we never really know that, either.

  4. springa73 says

    Each generation thinks that the next one doesn’t measure up in some way or another, and forgets that the previous generation said the same thing about them. I suspect that this has been more of an issue in the last few generations, as the pace of technological and social change accelerates and makes the childhood experiences of each generation more different than they were between previous generations.

    Some people in my generation seem to think that smartphones and almost constant internet access means that kids today are spoiled. I often view it as a source of stress and tension that my generation didn’t have to deal with. The Internet can be great, but I’m glad that as a socially awkward kid I didn’t have to worry about cyber bullying or think about what kids were writing about me on social media. In my day, insults weren’t digitally spread and preserved.

  5. drken says

    I’ve actually been looking forward to being old enough to do this:

    Damn kids,

    The girls dress like prostitutes, the boys dress like drug dealers, and their music sounds like noise! Back in my day, when we watched TV there were 12 channels because we were lucky to live in a big media market! We couldn’t just pull out our phones (which were attached to the wall by a wire, BTW) and watch anything we wanted. Plus, if we missed a TV show, that was it. No DVRs or on-demand streaming, you just didn’t get to see it. That’s the problem with you kids, no accountability. You think Nickelback sucks? Just try living your teen years with Jon Bon Jovi playing everywhere. And we didn’t have music streaming, you had to listen to the radio to hear new music and you know what the station played ALL DAY LONG? Jon F’n Bon Jovi. Nickelback, back then we would of been grateful to listen to Nickelback for a little while. Ah, you’re not listening, no respect for your elders. One of these days I’m going to buy a house with a porch so I can sit on it and yell at those damn kids to GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

  6. Jake Harban says

    In the second image, the kids on the left look to be about 6 and the kids on the right look more like 16.

    Those are the same kids!

    • Onamission5 says

      I’d be very surprised if the girls on the right were older than 12. They definitely do not look 16!

      I have two kids in high school, and another who’s 12– the girls look much closer to the peers of my youngest than those of my kid who’s driving age.

  7. Onamission5 says

    Re: the cartoon:

    Minus the phone, that looks very close to one style of outfit girls wore at my high school… in the 1980’s. Head another 10 years back and I remember high school aged girls getting on my school bus wearing short shorts with knee socks. Another ten years, which was before my time, and oh hello miniskirts!

  8. coragyps says

    Some several years ago I read a rant on this subject that bemoaned “kids nowadays” using Napster to get their tunes. “When we wanted to steal music, we had to hide the tapes under our clothes!!”

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