Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Old men must die; or the world would grow moldy, would only breed the past again."

^Alfred Lord Tennyson
Because I need to add more pictures to my blogs. And because this post could use a little lightness. And because this picture is amazing. My family is awesome. I can't wait to meet the little girl in my sister's belly!
Photo by James Martin

I hate the word "Nowadays."

As in, "Nowadays, kids don't know how to treat people with respect."

"Nowadays, nobody knows how to write proper English."

"Nowadays, movies just aren't as good as they used to be."

"Nowadays." It's always used with the most negative connotation, always to talk about what's wrong with today's society.

What frustrates me about this is that nobody seems to think that there's anything good about the world we live in now. It's always, "My world was so much better."

Well, you know what? Too bad. The world isn't the same as it used to be. Was your world really that much better, or do you just think it was because it was yours?

People have had the same complaints about the state of the world since... well, since there were young people to complain about. Every new development, going back as far as people, sparks the exact same complaints: no one knows how to communicate with each other anymore; we're forgetting the old ways of doing things; this technology will make children stupid; etc., etc., etc. We've seen it all before. Just read some old reviews of the Internet, the television, the radio, the telephone, the telegraph, the printing press. They'll all look familiar to you.

What people seem to forget is that the world that they grew up in was different from the world their parents grew up in, and their parents, and their parents. And their parents complained about the same things then. Society gets used to things when they've been around for a while, so what was once revolutionary and controversial becomes everyday, in as little as a generation.

In effect, if you resist these kinds of changes for long enough, you end up looking like an idiot. You can't be a true purist, because if you were you'd be living in a cave speaking a language nobody understands. The world you think was so perfect was someone else's "nowadays."

A lot of people complain about the way that technology, especially mobile technology, makes us incapable of having real conversations with people. Nobody smiles at other people on the street. Strangers don't strike up conversation. The thing is, though, it's not the technology.

Let's use me as an example. I'm a very introverted and awkward person, so the chances of me starting a conversation with you are basically nil, unless I know you, and even then it's not guaranteed. It's not the technology that's making me incapable of talking to people, it's the fact that I'm just generally incapable of talking to people. Not everyone likes chit chat. The technology has nothing to do with it.

From another angle, there's this weird thing that floats around the Internet a lot: "You're not a real '90s kid!" "This is for real '90s kids only!" "Only real '90s kids will understand!" Well, if you are a real '90s kid, do you really remember the '90s? I was born in 1993, which by Internet standards makes me a "real" '90s kid. I barely remember the '90s. You don't own the '90s because you happened to be born during that decade. Our parents and our older siblings "own" the '90s more than we do.

Just because you miss something about the way your world used to be doesn't mean that the new way of doing things is worse. Yes, I think the shows I used to watch when I was little were amazing, way better than the shows kids are watching now. But they probably weren't actually better. I just think they were better because I watched them. I think they were better because I'm nostalgic. When kids now are my age, they'll have the same complaints about the shows that "kids nowadays are watching." The only reason you feel this way is because you're nostalgic and think that anything that wasn't a part of your childhood is crap.

Which is crap.

I think we have this ridiculous tendency to romanticize the past way beyond what it's worth. We have this idea that, somehow, everything was better way back when: that everyone knew how to write "proper" English, that the world was safer, that movies were better, that the world wasn't so obsessed with sex. All of these things are flat-out false. Literacy rates are higher now than they ever have been. Today's English isn't bad English, it's different English. Crime rates are the lowest they ever have been. Ever. It's true that there were a ton of really great movies decades ago, but there were also an equal number of dreadful ones, and saying that only old movies are good is completely undermining the fantastic work that so many current filmmakers are doing. And sex has always been everywhere. Just check out this Ancient Greek graffiti.

Bottom line is, the world has to change. To think it doesn't is, quite frankly, stupid, and I'll go so far as to say that it's harmful. If an animal doesn't adapt, it dies. If a language doesn't adapt, it dies. If a society doesn't adapt, it dies. Innovation is what makes humans special. To feel that you need to deprive humans of that very thing that makes us a special, successful species just because you don't like it is extremely counter-intuitive and selfish. Maybe you don't like it, but just let the world move on. It's not your world to hold onto.

Appreciate the present and anticipate the future!
~Snooty Crumb