Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What's a Matter with Kids Today?

I think it began in high school, maybe in summer time when I first noticed it -- lazing the day away on my friend's couch, flipping channels, sneaking beers, enjoying our youth. The feeling swept over me, both forceful and vague, and it had nothing to do with the heat, and it had nothing to do with underage drinking. I was getting old. Only after these afternoons formed my memory of those summers, could I codify and isolate the sentiment, and I realized it was because of TRL, a show on Mtv for idiots, hosted by a then plumper and equally insipid Carson Daily. I didn't like the show or the music or any of it and I realized that I would no longer be the first to know the most recent Top 40 hit or be able to ride whatever cultural wave would come our way. There I was, at 16, infirm beyond my years, and this aging process has continued precipitously since.

In my last post, I discussed my affinity for Harold Bloom's views on Harry Potter, and by doing so exposed the crotchety traditionalist that I feel myself becoming. I need to know: is this what has happened to 24 year olds in each generation? Do others my age feel as I do about their detachment from their own popular culture? Was it the same when those raised on Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin watch their piers and those only years younger flock to "talkies"; when people switched from radio broadcasts to black and white television, and similarly until now, watching their friends and younger siblings shift with unsettling ease -- from black and white to color, from Elvis to Bob Dylan, from Aerosmith to shitty, older Aerosmith?

Reading about the recent debate on the Middlebury College campus, where the History Department has formally banned the use of Wikipedia for citation purposes, I found myself siding with The Man, and I have spent hours of enjoyment on Wikipedia. What the hell is happening here? Am I alone on this one? Please, fellow dissentators, mount up, let me hear you.

Perhaps these are just passing moments, only forming in my mind into a pathology by their repetition. I mean, I'm blogging aren't I? That's right, I am. Dammit, I'm all about the zeitgeist, baby. Who cares if I care more about the 2008 Presidential elections than Britney's new do, or that I have to feign interest and knowledge when discussing American Idol, or that I try to keep up my fiber intake (just joking with that one). The atmosphere on the internet and in the public discourse has forced us into taking this type of polarized stance -- we're either left lamenting progress or shouting down any who stand in its way. It's okay to form opinions without having to take sides. You can be ambivalent without being apathetic. All I'm asking is that you please turn the music down.

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