Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .

Teenagers Piss Me Off

Friday, June 06, 2008

this entry brought to you by pj harvey, "the letter"

I was listening to This American Life recently-- any time I mention listening to anything on public radio I feel so grown up-- and the theme for the episode was Prom. The first part of the episode took place the year the episode was recorded, in 2003, and was about a prom in Kansas that happened the night of a horrible tornado that destroyed half the town. It was a really good story and it had lots of audio from that fateful night, and it made for a really good story.

But the teenagers were absolutely driving me crazy. They weren't being annoying. They were talking about that night, how excited they were leading up to it, the initial fun, the disbelief of what was happening once the storm hit, and then the aftermath. Yet the way they talked was grinding on my nerves. Amazingly, nobody had a southern accent-- they all sounded like they could be from Anytown USA. But the girls started off every sentence with "Like", and ended every sentence with "...or whatever", the boys started sentences but would trail off at the end, nobody knew any descriptive terms at all, and nobody had any capacity of describing anything at all.

If 29 year old me were to talk to teenaged me, I'm sure there would be things about me that I would be annoyed with. But I've always hated the way teenagers talked, even when I was a teenager. I had a group of friends who managed to string words together without just trailing off at the end or using the word "like" repeatedly in a sentence, and when I talked to essentially anyone out of my circle, I would get really irritated. In my later high school years, I even stopped being polite about it, and would tease people for their inability to complete thoughts.

But today's teens seem different. Teenagers will be teenagers, and I'm sure they've always been oblivious idiots. I try not to feel like an old man, because every old man says that the younger generation is stupid, has no respect, and is in general a lower quality than the generation before. Yet I can't help but feel that today's generation is even worse, and that for the past two generations kids have strived to be rocks. For some reason, stupidity thrives amongst youths nowadays, and I don't necessarily see that as always having been the case. But then, to say that young people today are vapid doesn't really need exploring-- look at who their heroes are, look at today's pop culture. If ever there was a more vapid point in pop culture history, I'd like to know about it. Kids just want to fit in. And if being stump-stupid, or at least coming off that way, is the way to fit in, then it's not as if anybody is going to go against the grain.

Right as I was getting used to the fact that this entire episode was going to be like fingernails on a chalkboard, the host, Ira Glass, introduced the second segment, which he had recorded back in 1994, and had to do with another prom at that time. I set myself ready to be annoyed, because these were going to be my generation, and I know exactly how stupid those kids could be.

Then a funny thing happened. About ten minutes into the story I had a big smile on my face. I could actually relate with everything the seniors were going through. They chatted about where they were going to work once they were done with school, which would officially be about now. They talked about how the cops were always hassling them even when they weren't doing anything, and to demonstrate that, the kids get hassled by cops while loitering outside a store. Two of the kids in the story complain about how one of them is going off to college, what it's going to be like without them, and when his girlfriend goes inside the store for a bit, one boy complains that she talks too much, when all he wanted to do sometimes is just chill and be comfortable in silence. Later, they get in the car and rock out. They chat about Winona Ryder.

But they were expressing complete thoughts. They sounded completely down to earth, afraid of growing up and being too responsible, but also knowing full well that the rest of their lives are full of opportunity and excitement. They just sounded like real people, not cartoon characters whose entire existence could be summarized with titles like "Apathetic Kid" and "Ditzy Girl".

I felt a weird feeling listening to them, half trying not to think, see! The kids from my generation aren't annoying! They're smart and sophisticated! But I was also half validated. These kids felt comfortable, the kind of kids I hung out with in high school, the kinds I'd probably hang out with now as adults. It was comforting to know that even though they were in Chicago and I lived half a country away in El Paso, TX, we were all feeling about the same thing at about the same time, even though I am a couple years younger than them. And when the piece started, I didn't expect to relate with them at all. I'm 10 years older than they were when it was recorded, I'm a grown man, and I hated teenagers even then. But it did feel oddly satisfying, to get some sort of conformation that perhaps it is a generational thing, that in fact today's kids suck not because I'm an old man, but because today's kids suck.

with love from CRS @ 9:00 AM 


I too share the same resentment towards the sheer and utter oblivion that is had by all teenagers these days.

You're not alone.



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