Where will you be my darling? Where will you be when the dark is rising?
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Today, it's very common to hear something along these lines:
"What's the world coming to?"
"Kids today are so spoiled, with their iPads and iPhones"
"Things were better back then"
"Kids are getting stupider and stupider!"
"Kids today have no respect"
And most of the people I know then give themselves a pat on the back comparing themselves to said kids and saying that they were never like that. I have something to say in defense of the new generation.
I've been hearing this crap for quite a number of years already, and it's only made me realize the ignorance of my generation in comparing themselves with the younger generation.
First, let's compare the modern era we are in now, with the previous generation's (i,e, our parents, grandparents). Back in that time, there was no internet, no cell phones, and computers were primitive. Sounds superficial? The internet has changed things to a whole new level. Businesses can be run solely through a website, people with similar interests can find each other, old friends can find each other, calling people has become a huge convenience, and cell phones have saved countless lives in emergencies. Computers have allowed us an entertainment level never before seen, and it allows us to do our work, play games, listen to music and keep pictures and documents. Sure, they can be abused by people gaming too much, and calling too much. But anything can be abused if used to an extreme.
And that's just technology. People are saying that now kids are superficial, materialistic, complicated, and that things were better back then. Seriously? We had two world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the Cold War within our grandparents and parents lifetime. These were a much larger scale than the wars we have today (excluding the Cold War). WWII alone is the deadliest conflict in all of human history. People lived with a fear of global nuclear war. Living conditions, while not horrible, weren't as comfortable as today (aircon and all). Many children were not literate and many also had no formal education. You think racism is bad in Malaysia? It was a lot worse back then, with mobs lynching (Google that, if you don't know what it means) people purely for race. The Ku Klux Klan had the biggest membership in their time. Blacks in America had no equal rights in their time. Heck, women could not vote in most countries back then. You take all this equality we have now for granted. It was a big struggle to get people equalized.
Oh, you say, what about the kids attitudes then? Humans aren't perfect. Far from it. Every generation will have a new set of problems. Our grandparents and parents generations problems have largely been solved or made convenient by our time, and for the generation after us, they have their own set of problems, based on their worldview. I hear constantly that kids today are spoiled, that they have iPads, iPhones, laptops, cellphones and all that, while we didn't. Our parents said the exact same thing about our generation. Excuse me, have you forgotten about the Game Boy? Game Gear? Playstation? Super Nintendo? To our parents, these were the "iPads and iPhones" of their generation. Those kinds of consoles were unheard of in their time. And for us, the iPads and iPhones are on a whole new level. We blast kids now, just as our parents did to us back then.
Then there's people saying "What's wrong with kids nowadays" when they see secondary school kids kissing, having sex and all. You think this stuff didn't happen before? Back in our parents time? Oh please. Heck, in our generation secondary school kids kissing was no big deal already. Sex was hush-hush, but no doubt it was already widespread, even if there was a lack of reporting. And we criticize them today for making out? We were just like them. The only stupid thing they did was record them, post them on the internet, and have news outlets report on them. There's an abundance of cell phones with cameras now. You're going to surely get a few idiots who are stupid enough to record themselves and unleash it to the internet. We are living in a world where news goes all over the world in seconds. Of course we're going to hear more cases. And unfairly, we think its happening more and more, simply because we see it reported more and more. If news was so efficient back in our grandparents and parents time... well, the conclusion is easy to guess.
In general, people are getting wealthier. They can afford more. Naturally you'll buy toys for your kids. People of my generation say "I never had an iPad as a kid". Yeah genius, because it didn't exist back then. If it had, you might just have gotten it. Your Game Boy/Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis was the equivalent. I know some people are going to bring up the case of kids blasting their parents on Twitter and Facebook for not getting them iPads and iPhones. But look carefully, there's 7 billion people in the world. These whining kids are not the majority. They're just some whiny kids who have gotten media attention. And that's only because these kids have social networks. They can express more, whenever they want, at their age. There are adults who get fired because they bitch about their company on Facebook. You think immature kids won't do more damage? I'm sure you said a lot of stupid stuff back when you were a kid. If you had Twitter in that time, you might just have tweeted about it in the spur of the moment. And don't forget, these are kids. We as kids also whined when we didn't get our toys. I'm sure we were pissed off at that age, resenting our parents on the car ride home, and maybe a few hours more after that. What if you could tweet about it in the car, when you were still a kid? You just might have. Kids express themselves all the time, be it throwing tantrums if they don't get their toy, running around the aisle like a maniac or for some of the new generation, tweeting of their anger towards their parents. And because so many of us have Twitter and Facebook now, and because everything can spread so easily, things like this are easily found, spread, and used as an example of kids "nowadays".
My second-last point is on kids being stupid nowadays. I hardly think this is fair, simply because you're comparing yourself to kids! When you were that age, you weren't very bright yourself. You think you were smarter? Well look at the statistics of the IQ of children worldwide. It's gradually increasing every year. Look up the scientific studies if you don't believe me. Sure, you're smarter than many kids here and there, and you might just have been in their age, but as a whole, the kids IQs are getting higher. This perception of them being stupid is simply because of their age. We learn more every year, and we have a 10-20 year headstart on them. Of course you feel smarter. You're most likely somewhere in your 20s. You've more or less matured properly. Let these "kids" reach their 20s, and then you can compare properly with your 20s self. Unfortunately, you'll most likely think you're still smarter or better, because we always assume the worst of others when compared to us or our time. There's a memory theory called "reconsolidation" that shows our memories aren't fixed and static, but rather altered by our perceptions and media over time. This is why every generation thinks theirs was the best and talk blindly on "the good old days". Our minds keep all the good memories and don't focus so much on the bad ones. I'm sure your grandparents have said something alone those lines before, and so have your parents. And now you say it to the the ones after us.
Lastly, on kids having no respect. This is subjective. Respect is taught and earned. If kids have no respect, you only have their educators to blame. This includes, parents, teachers and other various authorities. Wait till they've hit the 20s, then, and only then can you fairly judge their respect. Most of the younger generations are around their teen age. It's the age when they're aloof, rebellious, easily bored. I remember in secondary a lot of school friends would always say they'd go to relatives places on Chinese New Year and sit there and be bored. This attitude changed as they grew up. There's a reason why teens are stereotyped that way. Because, to a certain extent, they are like that. Plus, you think we're much better? Chinese New Year is now about meeting relatives and seeing how much angpao money you get. The amounts we get are insane compared our parents. We get angpaos ranging from 30s to hundreds. And we talk about how little or how much a certain someone gave and compare it with one another. Wanna compare that to our parents generation? We seem like spoiled little kids in their eyes, when they received usually single digit amounts, or even cents.
Every generation says that we have improved from the last generation, calling them traditional, old-fashioned and outdated, and that the one after ours is taking things for granted, spoiled, stupid, or whatever castigating word you want to use. Think about it, how many times have your parents said something like "Back in my time..."? I think our parents had quite a bit of that from their parents as as well. And now we say it to the generation after ours. It's a cycle that repeats. Our parents had no idea why we liked Pokemon, Digimon, Dragonball Z, and that stuff. Neither do we understand why Ben 10 is such a big hit today.
I'm sure that the generation after ours will criticize the ones after them, in time to come. I guarantee it.