I've started with a digression again...not to be attempted without the aid of a safety net, or in my case; decades of practice. Where was I? Nowhere. Oh yes...a blank slate...
As the big half century stalks me like a jaguar stalks its unassuming prey through the mighty jungles of far-off lands (with the distant sound of logging machinery in the background), reflection upon my current state of mind/state of well being and state of cleanliness (what?) plague me. During one such bout of wondering about where I have arrived at (in the spirit of: 'I've made tons of mistakes in my life, but here's where I've got to anyway.'), I took to thinking about why young people in general annoy the hell out of me so frequently. Is it me, I thought, or is it them? Dismissing with a derisive snort the very concept of me being at fault, I closed in on what the younger generation is doing wrong so frequently - the fools.
And it seems that it...might...not...be...them. Curiously, it may have more to do with my experience of life...which very nearly means that it's...hahahaha...my fault...oh that's funny, hahahahaha. I mean; seriously? Me? At fault? Baaaahahahahaha! However....'tis true. Although I obviously am not to blame here.
So what is it that I think is going on?
Well...as I get older, I'm of course accumulating experiences and with them, knowledge. I learn every day - something I often forget to acknowledge and/or appreciate. I learn tiny things which pass straight into my subconscious mind without me even noticing. Some of these things I occasionally experience as a resurfacing tidbit of almost utterly useless information, which I take inappropriate delight at sharing with unsuspecting friends, relatives or colleagues. Most of them simply drift into the large mass of festering whatnot that I choose to refer to as avmind, and there they sit, gently accreting like layers of sediment on the sea floor. Some of what I learn is conscious; I know that it's new, that it has a value, and I appreciate it. For some reason, different things stick in my mind better than others, and they too will surface - albeit much more frequently - and to the dismay of my acquaintances, be repeated often, if not ad nauseum.
The thing is; I learn every day, and I've been around a lot of days: 18,176 to be precise. *To find out your day age, click here.
That means that there's a lot of sh*t stored (with hugely varying degrees of accessibility) in the over-sized melon sitting on top of my stressed-out neck. The younger generation - much as I probably didn't in my younger generation days - doesn't yet appreciate this. From their perspective it's seemingly almost impossible to appreciate that simply by virtue of statistical probability, I know a lot more sh*t than the overwhelming majority of them do. Sure, they may have studied something that has never troubled my neurons, but I'm talking about the kind of things that I am taught by life, and the kinds of things that are actually useful (as opposed to which level of chubby dwarf bears the staff of enduring power once you get to level 267 of Fairy Crystal Bollocks Assassin Warfare). This explains why members of this group fail to understand my grumpiness when they excitedly bring forth a revelation.
I'm using the word 'revelation' in a highly creative way here; in a way which actually means 'blindingly obvious to anyone who's been out of the house/checked out the real world on a regular basis'.
Revelations that I am occasionally challenged with (by nobody in particular) include:
- Rain gets you really wet if you don't wear a coat. When it's already raining.
- Learning to drive works faster when you actually get in a car and learn to drive it.
- Many people are stupid. As in: really stupid.
- Succeeding at something becomes harder with a diminishing amount of applied effort.
- In shops there are things that you can buy with your own money.
- Workplace managers get upset when you screw up.
- If you don't pay attention to instructions, things frequently don't go smoothly.
- When things don't go smoothly, there are frequently undesirable consequences.
- Leaving things until the last minute creates stress. * I should admit that I still do this at times, but unlike my younger acquaintances, I'm NOT continually surprised by the stress it causes; just annoyed with myself.*
- Things in the real world can be lots of fun - sometimes even more fun than what flashes on and off the digital screen held just a couple of feet away from the face.
- Experiences tend to last longer than 'vine' or 'snapchat'.
I actually get a great deal of enjoyment watching my kids grow into adults and tackling the challenges which to them are fresh. The part of the younger generations' learning - and I'm not really talking about my kids now; more about people maybe a few years older - that wicks me off (to use an old schoolboy phrase) is the assumption that everything that they are experiencing might also be new to me. Things that have been common human experiences or common knowledge for years but which is suddenly accessed by a previously torpid individual and then shared with some kind of pioneering zeal. I find myself silently asking: where the hell do they think the rest of humanity has been until this point?
The truth is -shockingly - that I know an enormous amount of stuff. There isn't a great deal of 'common knowledge' or 'common sense' that is alien to me. What is alien to me is the utter fascination with and addiction to the internet virtual reality. The internet is a tool which is rapidly becoming a drug, and it's draining our young folk (the ones with all the toys, at least) of their appreciation of what exists for real.
My parents' world changed enormously during their lifetimes (my mum is 85 and still paddling that canoe up that particular creek) and they lived through a world war and bombs and stuff like that. Reality - tactile reality was their world, as it has been for countless billions of humans until now. My world has changed at an even more rapid pace even to this point, but I'm keeping up with it. Our newer generations are increasingly remote from the tactile world, the world of sights, sounds and smells (that cute puppy on YouTube might not seem quite so cute if you knew that it smelled of sh*t, after all) and from living. This allows them to unwittingly or wittingly patronise people like myself who have lived a bit and who choose to do no more than dip their toes into the current technological morasse.
The difference is that unlike so many younger people that I know (thirty or under), I can feed myself, find shelter, keep warm and stay alive without technology in my life. I can fix a bicycle or my car (if I really have to) and I can find wonder in nature simply by looking for it. I worry that the younger folks around me are finding such things more ad more difficult to connect with - less and less attractive or interesting - and are therefore becoming more and more dependent upon technology as their practical skills diminish or devolve. Where does this kind of change take us as a species? Artificial Intelligence is a spectre of the future that would be unwelcome to most people my age, but the next few generations may welcome it - and their possible doom - with open arms.
In a couple of years we're heading backwards, back to a simpler life with fewer possessions and keeping mostly those that work for us. We'll feed ourselves, we'll clothe ourselves and we'll stay warm and dry. The difference between mine and younger generations is that we could have done this twenty years ago had we chosen to do so (instead of going down the routes we chose). We were capable of doing so even if we didn't choose to do so. Now, I worry about younger generations' abilities to do even the most basic things for themselves.