Swag, Yolo, and the Self–Destructive Nature of Today’s Youth
“Swag, Yolo, and the Self–Destructive Nature of Today’s Youth”
With my twenty-fifth birthday behind me, I think it is safe to say that I officially earned my “old man” card. One of the perks of being older aside from the occasional senior discount is the wisdom that comes from seeing a lot in one’s life. With a quick look at the title, one could safely assume that I’m going in on this one with the gloves off.
I won’t go out of my way to offend people or sound too out of touch with what’s going on but like everything else on this site, I would just like to put my two cents out there just for the sake of doing it. With that out of the way, let’s get this started.
“Swag, Yolo, and the Self–Destructive Nature of Today’s Youth, Pt.I”
First off, I really like the ring of the title itself. I’m not going to go into the first two words that have come to embody a generation, but I would just like for you, the reader, to keep them in mind while taking a look back at your own childhood.
Speaking for myself, I think I had a pretty good childhood. My parents worked hard so that our family could strive in this great big country known as ‘Merica. As for my influences as a kid, I could go on for days about things like Looney Toons, Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Eureka’s Castle, and a ton of other shows I grew up watching when I was younger.
But that wouldn’t do justice for the things I would come to know and love years later like walking over to my godmother’s house playing video games, following WWF and WCW at its prime, riding my bike across town, and living life without a care in the world. Granted, this is coming from the same person who watched Robocop and Married with Children before he could multiply, but you get the point.
As a kid, things were very simple. The ‘90s were a very different time and if at all possible, I would love to be able to raise my own kids the same way I was raised…for the most part. I think part of that had a lot to do with my parents and the people in our circle. That and I should definitely note that even though I made a point to list a group of shows I watched growing up, I by no means was raised by the television.
I’ll say this again and again on this site, but there is a time and place for everything and while wrestling and video games were mentioned for a reliability factor, the majority of my “growing up” was due in part to my upbringing. With that said, the reason why I brought up my childhood was to compare, analyze, and partially criticize, what has happened between then and now.
Now obviously, this is just a couple of my observations and I’m not looking to generalize how kids are these days, nor is scrutinizing today’s parents my end all goal. The point of all of this is to address the proverbial elephant in the room in the best way I know how.
There are several different factors behind kids growing up and my generation and kids growing up now. For one, it’s a post-9/11, hell, a post-Bin Laden world. What I mean by that is that when I was growing up, I still had an opportunity to have a genuine childhood whereas the kids later on were essentially robbed of that.
The things that we say and do from before the attacks and now are considered the norm for younger people, let alone those who weren’t even alive yet, are completely different. So whether or not that was a factor in the differing mindsets is something worth thinking about.
Another point I would like to make clear is the perception factor. The things I am saying about the current generation could easily be said about my generation by the generation prior, right? True, but I’m also of a very old school mindset. There are things that you look at be it trends, values, and opinions that you will know whether or not they will stand the test of time.
So getting to the flip side of things, let’s take a look at how much things have changed between then and now. When my brothers were born, my parents were anywhere from their late 20s to their early 30s. These days, we’re lucky if parents are in their early 20s. YES, that could be said for each and every generation but it was never as glorified as it is now. If you don’t believe me, then by all means disregard shows like Sixteen and Pregnant, Teen Mom (*my* MTV had music, but that’s aside the point), and every other episode of the Maury show.
The point I’m making here is the age old, “Babies are having babies.” How in the hell is someone going to bring someone into the world when they barely have any idea about the world themselves? No seriously, it makes as much sense as someone fresh into medical school instructing someone else that entered a month after them with the cycle repeating again and again. It doesn’t make for a very good picture, does it?
So with younger people having kids, the aforementioned wisdom that comes with growing older doesn’t come into play as often as it used to. How can someone pass on knowledge when they barely have any? As I mentioned earlier, I was fortunate enough not to be raised by what was on TV but it goes beyond just TV when you take into consideration something called the internet.
Back in my day, I…Well damn, the fact that I started off with that is bittersweet but back in my day, the internet was very different from what we are used to now. For one, there was no cable, DSL, or Fiber-Optics. No sir, we had something called dial-up which literally meant that we couldn’t use the phone if someone was attempting to access the great beyond known simply as, “The Internet” which more times often than not was accessed through a trial edition of AOL which was done via CD-ROM.
Yes, I remember having an account that was only accessible at certain times with levels of content being inaccessible seeing how I was, well, a child. I also remember there being a family computer vice everyone and their dog with a laptop of their own. Well, that was then, but it is a different story these days.
Nowadays, the amount of access that kids have when it comes to what’s out there is pretty unsettling. It’s really a matter of who’ll reach the kids first. Back in the day, all you had to worry about were those in the company of your children, but now there’s no telling who or what they are interacting with online.
Now let’s take a look at today’s mainstream* juggernauts when it comes to TV, movies, and music in comparison to years ago. Before I go in on this, yes I am aware we had pop acts and boy bands for days. It was our sin, and is something that we’ll have to live with for years to come. But with that in mind, I bring up a simple question: How to you explain to a child who/what this is:
I mean I grew up with things like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps, but I was never put in a position to be horrified in broad daylight. And I’m not talking about something as vain as judging her by her looks, I’m looking at her overall influence as a whole. Young people are looking to her the same way young people looked to Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera, who in all honesty fell off considerably from their prime, were like night and day when it came to actual talent (I’m actually on the fence about Britney Spears).
Ironically we traded in Usher for Justin Bieber , which is something I won’t get into discussing any time soon, DMX for 2 Chainz, Aaliyah for Drake (partial jab), and the list goes on. The major modern day “influences” just don’t pack the same punch as they used to but that is nothing in compared to how people “socialize” these days.
“Social Networking” is as ironic as it is meaningless in that it made things like the art of conversation, the meaning of friendship, and purpose of connections as a whole out of the norm. There was a time when I had no choice but to write people letters or actually call, not text, them to know how they are doing.
These days, day to day social interactions are almost the opposite. While the concept of a pen pal is nothing foreign, the thought of people “interacting” with people who’ve they never met-met while at the same time not knowing the first thing about the people who live across the street from them is all too common. While this entry was geared more towards the observation of younger people , it can be said that it holds true for majority of those in my generation as well, wouldn’t you agree?
The discussion will be continued in…
“Swag, Yolo, and the Self–Destructive Nature of Today’s Youth, Pt. II”