“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” – Socrates
We’ve probably all seen that quote in some form or other over the years. If not, it’s usually presented as a modern day rant (though given the use of the words chatter and dainties, I suspect the translation is a few decades old) and then is revealed to be close to 2500 years old.
But, it still holds true. Well, not so much the part about how terrible kids are, but how poorly many adults think of kids. How often have you heard someone say, “Kids these days, they always have their head down in their phones!” “Kids these days, they don’t read like they used to?” “The music kids listen to these days….”
The truth is, perhaps things have changed more in the past few decades than in centuries past simply because of the advances in technology. But, the truth is, in some ways, things are still. This is not to say that phones and tablets are 100% harmless (there’s a lot of evidence that for very young children they’re probably not a good idea). But, they can also be a huge impact. I have a friend whose autistic son can pretty much only communicate because of the use of a tablet. Without it, he’d be locked into a world of little communication. Kids these days…. can communicate in ways they previously couldn’t.
When I was starting college I discovered that through the local mainframe and then later the Internet (long before it was truly publicly available) I could communicate with people miles or 100s or even 1000s of miles away. I made deep, lasting friendships that way. I learned a lot. These is even more true. I know kids who have friends across timezones and countries and these are deep and meaningful friendships. It’s much like having a penpal, but basically in real-time. This has helped them develop cross-cultural understandings and learn more about the world. Kids these days, can communicate in ways we never could have hoped for.
Just last night, on a chat system run out of RPI that I’ve mentioned, Lily, we were having a discussion about the advances in computing languages and the discussion included people from across the country, including my own son who could add his perspective from several hundred miles from away. Kids these days, can interact with adults with decades of experience, and can provide their own perspective.
My daughter recently started a new seasonal job at a local haunted hay-ride. Granted, I’m on the hook (as is her mom) for doing a bunch of driving, but it was her initiative and work that helped her find the job and get the job. This is in addition to the school work she does, the sports and planning on helping with the school play down the road. Kids these days, are not lazy and have their own initiative.
People talk about the state of today’s music. I’m sorry, but any generation that enjoys a song where half the words are basically “I want to ride my bicycle” or variations on that has no place criticizing the simplicity of lyrics today. For every Bohemian Rhapsody there’s a Bicycle. That was true then and is true today. Kids these days, actually listen to as wide a range of music as we do, and some of it is actually pretty good.
Kids these days, sail across the ocean, alone, to make a plea for their future. And in return, people mock her and call her names. She’s literally asking us to consider her future and too many simply want to insult her. Adults these days, can be as cruel as always.
Kids these days simply want to inherit as good a world as we did. They’re working hard to make it a better place, but adults seem hell bent on denying them that. They’d rather smugly look down their noses at kids these days. Don’t be those adults.