This was thrown into a particularly harsh light over the last weekend when, together with the most patient woman on the planet (that's my gorgeous wife, by the way...oh you'd guessed, had you? I see!), I attended an international rugby tournament in our nearest large city. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle and the excellent rugby, I found myself distracted by the swarm of young people who more or less engulfed us as the afternoon and early evening wore on. There's a couple of problems with this situation, you see. Number one, I'm not very fond of people in general; most of them (not you of course) are disappointingly stupid or boring or thoughtless or drunk or high, or any combination of these. Oh, I forgot smelly. Any or all of these things are undesirable and make many people less than ideal company.
The second issue to be had with a slow influx of students into a stadium seating area is that on a weekend (if you remember, exactly the time period I was talking about), they tend to be rather overly relaxed. This lot were. Very. Most of these poor, destitute students were knocking back the appallingly expensive on-site beer as if it were water. The majority of them were wearing costumes, too. That's right: costumes, as in Mr. Dress-Up costumes. We were surrounded by wizards, witches, nurses, gangsters, scuba divers, people in various nightwear, beavers (yes, really) and a whole panoply of outlandish rigs which were, to be honest, a little pathetic. Despite this level of provocation, I would have been able to ignore these young folk (at least they weren't on my lawn) had they not repeatedly proven themselves to be monumentally immature individuals and groups. It all became a little wearing, and after the third hour I found myself entertaining troubling fantasies of dangling one or two particularly annoying little twats over the balcony by their ankles.
Nevertheless, it's had me thinking about how I view this generation to which my children belong. With some exceptions (my kids, I'm happy to note, among them), I have to say that on the whole, in my many dealings with people under the age of thirty, I've found them to be a bunch of fucking aggravating whiners (before you say it: I don't whine; I merely complain - occasionally - about issues which need bringing to the fore). Apparently, nobody has ever had it so tough as they do (I'm sure they were discussing it over $10 beers at the rugby tournament). They are - I have been repeatedly told - under more pressure then anyone has ever known, and finding jobs is so hard (despite the local job hunting sites being jam-packed with vacancies), we oldies just don't understand what it's like. One of the young ladies dressed in a beaver costume (unfortunately, the rodent version) was in full whining mode as she passed my seat using the same stairs that I had climbed earlier in the day. According to her, the stairs were (engage four year-old whiny tone) "...fucking brutal!" No. They weren't. They were just stairs.
I'm sick of such an approach to life. BUT...
Who made them this way? Who created this generation of needy, unaware, ask-questions-without-trying-to-think-it-through-yourself-first whining, entitled arseholes?
We did. My generation.
We - in the sixties and seventies in particular - propagated television and subsequently in the nineties and 'noughties', the internet in our lives. We pushed for infinite information at our fingertips, and we allowed billions of (often stupid) voices to find an outlet. many of those voices should never have been heard. However, we unleashed the Kraken. We effectively created social groups on a nation-sized scale, wherein nonsense became accepted wisdom, where irrational fears became truth, and where lies could fool millions. We subverted education and wisdom by allowing our youngest to exclude such things and speak only to one another; to believe one another without checks and balances, without a guiding hand. We gave them the ability to ignore us. We allowed something called The Flat Earth Society to even exist.
And now, they need us. rare is the person under thirty who can change a washer in a tap/faucet - or who even knows how such a thing works. Scarce are the people who can make a fire. Many, many people - especially here in North America - can barely cook a meal.
And now our young people - some very young indeed - see suicide as something that is almost normal, something to consider as a genuine option for being pissed off, unhappy or miserable. I don't wish to belittle anyone's anguish, but when I was a callow youth (oh yes, I once was - I recently found photographic evidence!), taking one's own life was not even a consideration. Nobody tried it, and I didn't know anyone who knew anyone who had tried it -p but my kids can tell stories of many such scenarios playing out among their peers. My children all have friends and acquaintances with vague, not-very-specific mental health diagnoses. Depression is a common term being used among the so-called (I rather think that ISIS has made the sue of 'so-called' a little redundant these days....) Y generation. With no pun intended, why? Where has the resilience that I and my peers were expected to develop and make use of as the world's ways knocked us about, disappeared to? Surely it's still there, waiting to be prodded, pushed or dragged out into the open? I bloody well hope so - someone had better change my diapers when I'm ninety!
Have we spoiled our kids, I wonder? In our well-intentioned efforts to give them a better quality of life, have we instead created a situation where any disappointment is seen as an almost insurmountable problem? Simply being unhappy is almost unheard of; kids are instead depressed within seconds.
It concerns me more than my glib underlying tone would have you believe. What will they do when we are no longer around to perform rescues, tiny or monumental? How will they cope? How will their kids be raised?
What have we done?