I am 38 years old. I grew up in the 80’s and came of age in the 90’s. To be sure, the 1980’s were a grand time to be an American kid. There was no social upheaval, no imminent existential threat to our nation (foreign or domestic), though my brothers and I grew up killing Russians because that’s what good American kids do.
People, by and large, still hated Communism. Kids were taught to respect authority. They were allowed to play outside without fear of being molested, kidnapped, or murdered.
Then, one day we began hearing stories of people who used force to defend themselves being sued by their attackers – and losing. The murmur of corporal punishment being abusive began to creep, slowly, inexorably into the American consciousness. As many households had two incomes, the kids were largely unsupervised. Most of us did just fine. We broke rules. We tried to grow up too soon. We survived. Unfortunately, most of these children grew into young parents in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The free range childhoods we experienced seem to have led to an over-abundance of caution when raising the children of people in my age group (give or take 5 years), thus creating the helicopter parent.
We all know examples of these people. They make their kids wear helmets on a bicycle and pick them up any time they fall down. These are the parents who take their kids to the doctor when little Johnny or Suzie scrapes their knee. These are parents who the Good Idea Fairy smacked upside the head and convinced to give every kid a trophy. When I was in middle school, I was selected to spend a day with 8-10 other kids who were of exceptional intellect. We spent the day with some savant who was trying to teach us how to tap into different areas of our mind to maximize what we could accomplish. By the time I reached high school, we had motivational speakers telling everyone in school that they were “…someone special…”. Exceptional, each and every one of us.
In just a few years, we’d gone from singling out the exceptional to telling everyone they were so. Yep, you’re unique and special… Just like everyone else.
At the same time these parents were coming-of-age the internet was coming online. The information age was upon us and man was it glorious! Having never ventured outside of the small town in which you were raised, you could now have a sex-chat with some chick in Australia [or more likely some guy in Des Moines]. We went from having to go to the library and trudge through dusty encyclopedias to find information to having the sum of human understanding quite literally at our fingertips, in the span of 5 years. It was a great time to be alive.
Do you remember all of the phone numbers you used to have memorized? Addresses, important dates? How many numbers do you retain now? Bear with me here, I’m making a point. How utterly unremarkable and unimportant were you when the internet was first introduced to the public? Do you miss it?
Life became easier. No longer did you have to commit things to memory. You can just google it or find it in your phone. You didn’t have to put in work to find information. The collective knowledge of mankind has increased beyond comprehension, but mysteriously people seem dumber. Why do you think that might be?
Is it possible that with the advent of the information age, we have created a generation of children-cum-adults who merely phone it in because they’ve not been required to put in the effort? That we’ve created a culture of the “special” with none more remarkable than the next? That this has led an entire nation to over-estimate it’s own individual worth?
A society where everyone can be famous for 15 minutes for nothing more than a funny comment or picture? Everyone is now the star of their own reality tv series. They headline their own news agency, and display their lives however they see fit. Each a star in his own sight, you can truly be anything you want to be in today’s social media culture.
Is it then, any wonder that these same self-absorbed, self-ingratiating, self-aggrandizing people would vote for individuals who personify the very traits they exhibit each and every day in their own life? Is it really a surprise that the majority of a nation of intellectually lazy, cynical, self-important imbeciles would select intellectually lazy, cynical, self-important imbeciles to represent them? Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton… these people represent the worst attributes of American culture, but amazingly they have achieved cult-like status among their followers and caused American to lose it’s f-king mind.
Enjoy the decline (and hopefully the largest cultural backlash the world has ever seen).