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"Kids today" musings

Was thinking today about the mentality I'll call "kids today"-- the idea that the new generation is in a state of decay from the abilities and values of the previous one. We know people have been doing it since Biblical times, so it's pretty safe to say we're not suddenly all going to hell in a hand basket. It seems to have to do more with how people fear the world changing away from what they know and what makes them most comfortable.

So it's not that things are getting worse, just different. When I think about it, I do, however, believe that with that changing of circumstances and values comes new personal strengths and weaknesses. What we value in the culture of our generation influences the things we're good at the and the things we're not so good at.

An example would be the emphasis the current youth generation places on caring about the self. Older people are quick to deride kids for it, railing against things like "selfies," saying it's a symptom of their generation's narcissism. But everything is a two-edged sword, and your strengths are the flip side of your weaknesses. Focus on the self does sometimes lend itself to narcissism if it extends too far in one direction. But it also means we're better at prioritizing our own wellbeing, embracing our individual identity, and seeing ourselves as important and worthy. This quality of our generation gives us different propensities, but they are not uniformly better or worse.

I think this means one generation will be better at some things than others were, given their different values. I think of the way my father, a little over sixty years old, approached caring for my mother during her illness, and frankly somebody with a more modern concept of "self-care" likely would not have been able to do as good as a job. But he is not as inclined to some of the other virtues that accompany the current mentality.

I believe it's important to keep in mind that just because something is different doesn't mean it's worse. And that goes both ways-- as some people change, and as others remain the same.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 13th, 2014 04:35 am (UTC)
The current crop of kids-today evergreen articles annoys me more than the ones about my own generation because the kids I am exposed to lately (mainly the ones at my church) are amazing and the things that my daughter is learning at an even younger age astound me.

It's getting better. It really is. We're not out of the woods, but the light is dappling through the trees as they grow, strong and straight.
Jun. 13th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
I'm also not entirely convinced that narcissism/self-care or any version of self-centeredness is in fact THE defining trait of our generation. Yes, kids in the past didn't take a lot of selfies, maintain blogs on the internet, etc . . . but how do we know that this isn't just because they didn't have the technology to do so? It would be nice to have some serious attempt at research into the psychology/culture of recent generations' understanding of 'self' instead of this constant railing and pointing to the phenomenon of selfies and blogs. Does posting a lot of pictures of yourself online really mean that you are more morally 'self-centered' --- as in, less willing to care for others and sacrifice your own immediate interests for their well-being?

For instance, I would hazard that there might be a much stronger tendency towards a more global and less culturally localized awareness in modern generations --- again, due to modern technology. Thanks to the internet, people scattered across the globe can be "real" to us --- and speak with their own voices --- in a way that was not previously possible on anything like this scale. And that, at least on a cultural level, seems to me like it might foment a movement /away/ from self-centeredness, rather than towards it.

not to mention --- for all the modern lingo re 'self-care', are modern generations REALLY better at taking care of ourselves? Of keeping ourselves healthy and active and content, away from self-destructive behaviors, depression, and life-leaching self-denial? Idk. I want some real research.

Edited at 2014-06-13 02:38 pm (UTC)
Jun. 20th, 2014 06:46 pm (UTC)
I would tend to agree that "different" doesn't translate easily into better vs. worse. There are lots of details that folks casually overlook -- for example, the fact that I actually saw rather more casual (and overt) drug and alcohol use among the mid-to-upper class kids of my generation than I typically observe today. Those born after Reagan don't have much sense of how dramatically those memes have shifted since 1980, and most of my generation seem to prefer to quietly forget about it...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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