Thursday, November 25, 2010

Don't Be a Farty Bugger When You Get Old

I rarely throw down a book in disgust, but after twenty pages of "You Had To Be There" by Robert Collins I feel like tossing it in the trash, and THEN streaking through an old folk's home.

Here's some advice for Mr. Collins, and for you as well, reader: If you're going to complain about the behaviour and beliefs of a younger generation, stop and ask yourself if your parents said exactly the same thing about YOU. If so, shut your farty old bugger mouth and get reacquainted with the world. If not, shut your trap anyway, because nobody likes a smug blog-reader who has nestled into the generation gap like it were a comfy couch or the very vagina of God/Family/Country herself.

First, the younger generation is not fundamentally different from yours, with the possible exception that they generally don't believe the same things you believed, probably because you wouldn't shut up about those things during their formative years.

Second, your generation was not The Best Generation Ever. Disregarding all the selective memory and willful blindness and massive generalizations you make about other people based on your own narrow peer group, don't forget that YOU BROUGHT THE YOUNGER GENERATION INTO BEING. It was YOUR social structures, YOUR upbringing, YOUR revolutions (or lack thereof) that brought us to where we are today. Before you point fingers at "the kids," ask yourself who their ARCHITECTS were. You, goofy!

And finally, your anecdotes about the superiority of your idyllic development are worth nothing whatsoever from a sociological standpoint. They are skewed and selective and personal and do not say anything about the development of the other people around you. Likewise, the snapshot behaviour of some teenager who cut you off in traffic does not a generational trend do you think your grandparents felt when some kid almost ran them off the road during a drag race, Big Bopper tunes all a-blastin'?

I get this increasingly from a baby boomer family member who is CONVINCED that the world is going to hell. I'll grant that the population density is higher than it was (partly because those boomers just couldn't stop making babies), but when this person bemoans urban crime or the latest child-sex scandal, I can only point out the increasing millions of dollars that the Catholic church needs to spend to redress the long-ago crimes of pedophile priests. I can point to books from EVERY generation which describe that decade's Unprecedented Urban Crime. I can point to endless editorials from every year in every age about how Those Damn Kids Have No Respect.

When Robert Collins -- under the guise of teaching the next generation how their grandparents live -- tells me that his own generation was so chaste and patriotic, I say PHOEY. Kids his age were having sex, getting venereal diseases, and going to unlicensed practitioners to abort the children they'd conceived in the stable/carriage/roadster. A sizable proportion of Collins' fellow citizens wanted nothing to do with the second world war and did everything they could to stay out of it. Phoey again!

Collins is the archetypal crotchety senior citizen who wants to boost is own sense of nobility by denigrating others. The first twenty pages of the book are peppered with constant digs at the lazy baby boomers...those same boomers who now berate subsequent generations for their laziness.

Whenever somebody tries to start a conversation with me about "kids today" and the first words out of their mouth (or the first paragraphs in their book) have something to do with the immorality or incomprehensibility of contemporary popular music, I know immediately that there's no hope for them. They are crotchety old fogies already. They have already forgotten KISS, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, and every jazz orchestra that got their start in a Harlem nightclub.

Nobody's generation can claim superiority or wash its hands of today's problems, which is why "You Had To Be There" is going in the garbage can, and then I'm going to run through an Adult Education Center without any pants on, as soon as it's a bit warmer.

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