The phrase ‘kids these days’, has been used since time immemorial by older generations to express their disappointment in younger generations. We love to talk about just how different life was ‘back in the good old days’. In that regard, you see a huge number of ‘only 90s kids will remember…’ on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites.
George Orwell had a brilliant quote that went along the lines of this:
|George Orwell (1903-1950), was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic.|
There’s a neat neologism for this phenomenon, Juvenoia.
The point is, it’s an endless cycle. Let’s examine this situation. A family is sitting around the breakfast table, all engrossed in their own digital life. It’s a common situation nowadays, right? However, in 1907, the Journal of Education deplored, “At a modern family gathering, silent around the fire, each individual has his head buried in his favorite magazine.” Let’s compare the two:
Are you seeing the parallels yet? It is considerably shocking.
Think about it this way, children, biologically are the future of a species, and by definition, parents are a reproductive success, because they had offspring which carries the species forward. So in the minds of parents, the lifestyle and choices they made in their life were sufficient, and any deviation from that is, alarming.
It’s easy to have an idealized view of the past, but the truth is, today’s kids aren’t much different from kids from the 80s. This study has looked at the results of nearly half a million surveys from 1976 to 2006 and found no difference in egotism, self-enhancement, individualism, self-esteem, locus of control, hopelessness, happiness, life satisfaction, loneliness, antisocial behavior, time spent working or watching television, political activity, the importance of religion, and the importance of social status for high school seniors over that time period.
So why do Juvenoia and generational conflict exist?
At a social level, concerns are exaggerated, mainly because exaggeration is effective at riling up and motivating people towards a cause, much like mainstream news does today. Other times, it’s self-centric. It’s not so much that the world around you has changed, it’s you, yourself who has evolved.
Are there simply more irritating cell phone drivers in the world today? Or is it that you have developed more rights and responsibilities and experiences which expose you to threats that were always there?
Nostalgia plays an important role in this, too. According to many studies, people value things that remind them of past experiences and pivotal moments in life as more prestigious than what’s new. Older generations reminisce and admire things from their generations because it provides a sense of ownership, of truly belonging to a certain era.
Juvenoia is natural. However, the nature of it isn’t. Around the turn of the 19th century and the dawn of industrialization, young people began receiving pocket money which gave them the liberty to spend it on themselves. The producers of consumer goods realized that they could design these products for the youth. Thus, the creation of the teenager. Around this time, children began to spend more time around other children their age and developed a generational consciousness which molded their individual identities. Now, children weren’t just young people waiting to experience life, they were a separate group in society with their own culture.
In this generation, we hear broad criticisms that the mass culture of ‘kids these days’ is brainless and lacking any substance. Music, for example, is a hotbed for these fine criticisms.
Many times we criticize the similarities in pop music while disregarding the similarities in the purpose of those songs. They’re made for the same purpose, so quite obviously, they’re going to sound similar.
Art is one more. Contemporary art by many older generations’ standards is ‘total rubbish and lacking any skill’. One man’s art is another man’s rubbish. Whatever it may be, language, slang, music, art or culture as a whole, each generation is a reproductive success.
So parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, ‘kids these days’ may not be all that bad. We’re just a manifestation of you.
And as always, thanks for reading.
P.S: Michael Stevens of Vsauce fame did an amazing video called Juvenoia which is where I got inspired to write this blog from, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD0x7ho_IYc