As I’ve grown older, it seems the disconnect between me and today’s youth has widened appreciably and exponentially as I draw closer to 50.
When was 25, I felt young.
When I was 35, I didn’t feel young, but I felt like I was cradling the outskirts of youth’s buoyant grasp of my being.
At 45, youth was gone, but I still believed it was within reach if I tried very, very hard (sometimes to the point of self immolation).
At 48, I’m slowly accepting that I must throw the towel in because attempting the illusion of communion with youth is a flagrant joke, and actually very demeaning if I persist in the masquerade. I accept that I can no longer pretend to comprehend the slightest thing about today’s youth. Perhaps having a teen child allows me to clearly witness the vast experiential gulf that separates me from those under 20.
The “benefit” of accepting this inevitable generational gulf and my “outsidedness” from youth culture is that I feel I can study them in a coldly clinical manner much more accurately than days past when my concurrent urge to be part of youth culture clouded my vision. Now, as I can place youth culture under the microscopic lens, I see them for what they are.
And this is what I see now. Because of my teen son, I’ve been exposed to the youthful mentality than I could have ever imagined.
Kids now are horribly inhibited.
The younger folks strike me as tame, mild, repressed, “underspoken.” There seems to be a lackluster appeal to their wanderings. They are too concerned with smart phones and digital crap to care about life and death, and having grown up in an environment of disconnection and inhumanity, they lack the ability to emote and relate on a human level other than some stupid trite 5-word artificial expression of grief on Facebook.
They don’t know the human level we older folks do. A human level which is nuanced, imperfect, ugly, fractured, but…real. I am frequently outspoken and opinionated but these young folks now seem so withdrawn in the sphere of dueling with the world. I always feel a sense of shame for feeling too opinionated in their presence. But it’s not me…it’s them. They would rather retreat and feel faintly perturbed about something they can barely put their finger on.
The newest generations have grown up in an increasingly “wireless” society. Wireless in the human sense that there is little hard connecting going on any more. Kids now relate and learn of each other remotely, vaguely, nothing is vivid, not even their emotions and urges. Young boys lose their killer instinct. Young girls lose their graciousness. Each ensuing generation breeds increasingly absent humanity which, despite its persistent social evolution, is still at the mercy of a deeper pool of undeniable primal urges which spelled man’s nature for millions of years. The conflict has become thus. Man is inhibited, but his soul, his animal soul, rages into the dying night. The conflict between our beastly past conflicts with our technologically inhibited sense of 21st Century order.
I remember when men were violent every day, even the men who were not violent.
Now, men are never violent, and the ones who are await the fantastic day that they can unleash the fury of a thousand silent days.