Confessions of a not-so-Old Curmudgeon


Confessions of a not-so-Old Curmudgeon:
A Reactionary Screed for our Time

I never thought I would be such a young old fuddy duddy. As a not exactly doddering forty-six year old, I’m not quite ready to go into those fist-shaking, when-I-was-your-age, Sonny diatribes, but I seem to be much closer to the stereotype of the guy chasing kids off his lawn than I am to my own youthful self.

When I was younger (so much younger than today), I got really annoyed when people over forty spoke derisively about my music my movies, my clothes, my g-g-g-generation. I swore that no matter how old I got, I would never make scornful sweeping generalizations about people just because they were younger than me. This conviction was bolstered with the knowledge that, as sociologist Mike Males and others have pointed out, What’s the Matter with Kids These Days? has been a perennial preoccupation for grownups for thousands of years.

Well, that was then, this is now…

When did people become so damn helpless? It’s gotten to the point where a large percentage of young people can’t scratch their derrieres without texting eleven friends to brag about it. Cell phones have become an indispensable appendage, but instead of liberating young people, telephones are like a ball and chain fettering them to a network of nattering nonsense. From the moment they arise until they pass out (maybe I’m projecting a little too much from my own youth here), people are in constant contact, and it’s clearly arresting their development. Today, people can communicate with one another at any time from just about anywhere on the planet, but that doesn’t mean we have to.

Solitude and separation can be a good thing because they help to clear the mind and refine the thinking process. For example, when I took my youthful sojourn to Europe, postcards were my only contact with my friends for over three months. This gave me time to reflect on my life and note the difference between cultures.

And is it possible for the narcissistic youth of today to have more than two friends over for a beer without taking a bunch of pictures and posting them on Facespace or whatever the hell they’re calling it now? (And we thought the baby boomers were the ultimate paragons of solipsism.) Despite having access to more information about what’s happening in the world than any previous generation, today’s youth are more prone to utilize this marvelous technology for enhanced navel gazing. Information from virtually any newspaper on the planet is available at our fingertips, yet so many of us would rather hear the latest mindless tweet from some pseudo-celebrity.

Unlike many of my cantankerous predecessors, I’m not saying that the youth of today are too rebellious. On the contrary, these screen-addled drones aren’t angry enough. Where’s the outrage for the four thousand mostly young people who have died in a totally unjustified war? Where’s the rage over global warming? Where’s the anger about rising tuitions which will force today’s college students to live in debt bondage for much of their careers? And why aren’t young people marching in the streets to protest how us grownups have mortgaged away their future in so many ways?

Today I’m too young for the rocking chair (but old enough to find thoughts of such rhythmic swaying somewhat comforting). I always thought I was the kind of guy who would remain hip until I was at least sixty. Now, I’m not even sure I want to be cool any more.

by Richard W. Bray

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