I feel for the youth of today, I really do. Mainly because it doesn’t feel like too long since I was one.
I said feel.
I have to face facts, and feeling is not a fact, no matter what Christina Aguilera says. What is a fact is that I am a 31-year-old man and even though time could technically start reversing, taking me back through the years and un-doing all the things I have mucked-up and all the people I have agitated — mum is at the top of the list, swiftly followed by a teacher who I can’t recall at primary school — and all the snails I have accidentally crushed on my way home in the dark it probably won’t (actually I’m glad about that…I’d rather not experience a reverse diarrhea situation as a result of a bad curry I had in 1996…). I may think and often act like a child – or at least be tempted to…I flippin’ can’t be within 25-feet of a pigeon without wanting, no, needing, to throw my arms in the air, scream “Argh!” and chase them – but I AM A MAN. I must be. Everyone says so — no ex-girlfriend jokes, please — including the law in every country in the world, where in some I may well be considered the equivalent of a pensioner. It is undisputable, even for someone like me who loves nothing more than a good-old-fashioned dispute/debate. Even if you don’t take any of these things into account, half-my-life-ago I started being able to father children – we won’t get into that here, and anyone getting into it in the comments will find their comment swiftly deleted! – and that must mean one simple thing which I cannot avoid any longer: I’ve actually been a man for a very, very long time, I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.
It’s all a bit annoying, really. But then again, as a man I can handle it. I have no choice…
No I can’t, I’m lying. Still — I’ll just brush that aside. That’s one of the benefits of being an adult, actually: you get to ignore things for absolutely ages and rationalise them and justify them in a way which no child could ever do (apart from those creepy funny-haircut-funny-clothes-high-IQ children you sometimes see on TV, who are so smart and well-mannered that they have actually gone full-circle and may well technically be disabled).
Ah, the youth. When it comes to being attacked for being lazy, useless, unappreciative and generally hopeless — among just some of the insults I have heard being bandied around the old-corner bus sometimes — few things or people receive quite as much abuse as the youth of today. What have they done to deserve all this shit? Well, a selection of minority youth did quite a lot if you live where the London riots happened a while ago, but let’s overlook that for now. Let’s overlook it because that really wasn’t just the youth, was it? OK, it probably mainly was, but the statistics show that a lot more people were involved in stealing XBox 360s — and socks that were the wrong size for them — than you might at first think, and, more to the point, many of these people were about as able to claim the youth tag as I am now. And I have a beard which you don’t see any youths sporting (and yes, I’m proud of that fact — took me bloody long enough to grow! I just wish I could transport myself back in time to the school changing rooms when I was an early teen, when this one boy was parading his brand-new overnight-growing-pubic-bush around, making everyone else feel both a) terrified of how this had happened so quickly and b) curious as to what it might feel like to possess (own) such a bush themselves, as in attached to their person. Now, confronted with my beard — a damn good distance away, that is — he’d stop in his naked tracks at once and find himself the owner of a wimpering, pathetic bush that a boy could only barely be proud of! Then I’d set light to his bush and watch it go up in flames, while me and my younger, creeped-out class-mates clapped and we all did what should have been done way back in time. But I’ll leave it at that, because I’m a pacifist, you know).
Far as I can tell, the main thing which the youth of today come under attack for is being alive at this very specific time in history: under fire for not being brave enough to fight a war that doesn’t exist between us and another european country. Not really their fault, then. Even more stupidly, when they do try and start a war on the streets, they get told off for it! Come on older people, where’s your fighting spirit?
Enough now, I promise. No more stupid jokes. This is actually quite a serious blog post, at the core.
So look here, dear older generation who just don’t understand and who can’t, who never could, through no fault of your own, anyone would be the same: it’s really not the youths fault that there’s no decent venge-filled war going on right now. If you really think that the youth aren’t courageous, then take a look at the world they are living in — a world which you may not fully grasp, but still one that presents a multitude of problems easily akin to those of any other generation. So much pressure, so much temptation, so much financial insecurity and all of it compounded by information overloading in their brains as they try, desperately, to make sense of their place within the world.
It’s not the same as fighting, and buildings collapsing, and bombings, and watching your loved one die in your arms. It isn’t, and it never could be. The wars must have been horrific to endure, of that there is no doubt, and I have the utmost respect for the older generation who were forced to go through that. It’s different but it is hard for the youth all the same, even if it’s in a way which doesn’t look like it from the outside. We live in an age of no direction, of must-have-everything. It’s a serious pressure. It kills, it hurts, it maims — physically and emotionally. We’re all told we’re unique, but we’re all heading the same direction and nobody, not nobody, seems to have any real answers to any of it.
Or maybe it’s that we have access to too many answers now? It’s hard to know either way…
Our youth, they live in the age of confusion. But many of them are trying hard — they’re working, they’re raising money for charity, they know the value of life and they’re actively looking for jobs. They are doing their best and in large, large numbers.
Jealousy has to also play a huge part in all this, too. This is just me guessing here, writing out loud, but when you’re elderly, or approaching elderly — or are surrounded by elderly people who make you feel elderly, and like you wish the elderly-ness would just hurry the hell up already because all this waiting for it to come and get you is just pure plain torture — I can imagine that seeing loads of youthful people around, some in hotpants with perfect legs and arses, really gets you down sometimes. All that vitality, all that life ahead, all that sex being had, all those orgasms being so blissfully enjoyed. The choices, the choices, the choices you never had and life all mapped-out for you. That kind of thing. I mean, even I find myself cringing as I walk past kissing teenagers, and philosophically speaking I am barely out of my teens!
And I guess seeing all this youth, having it thrust in your face, is somewhat of a reminder of deeper issues as well. Makes a person introspective, which can be a frightening thing when you think you have it all worked out, in the time of your life when you’re supposed to have done all the finding out and now be something like at-peace. You see the youth and you remember your youth and you get frustrated; live in Wales and, even if you’re the most placid person in the world, you probably want to tear the nearest sheep’s head off, and who could blame you? You get annoyed that they’re having this time now — the youth, not sheep — and the passage of time is strange, isn’t it? Does funny things to a person. It’s passed and left you feeling jilted and sad and like nothing existed between now and back then. Feeling young but being old, and remembering all the past mistakes. All the things that you wish you’d done differently. The youth, they must look all the same. Technology and fashion and modern living…it gives the impression that these individuals are regenerating. An army of youth that will never grow older, who will always exist in this simple, pure, perfect state.
Hopefully the suicide rate for technically-minded elderly bloggers won’t go up within hours of me publishing this post.
On the plus side though, with age comes experience. Think about that next time you pass a gang of youth passed-out in an enormous pool of vomit!