Right Thinking From The Left Coast
The Government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. - Mark Twain

Kids Today

An interesting post by Charles Stross that provides, when converted from pounds to dollars, some insight into where the country is going. He’s writing from a UK perspective. I’ll pencil in the American version:

The year is 2008.

An eighteen year old today was born in 1990.

They don’t remember Margaret Thatcher. John Major stopped being Prime Minister when they were seven. The huge political scandals of the last conservative government are history.

They don’t remember Ronald Reagan or Bush 41. Clinton left office when they were ten and is only about as real to them as Carter is to me. The huge scandals that bugged his administration are history.

Labour are the natural party of government and fiscal prudence. They’re also in favour of nuclear weapons, privatization of what’s left of the public sector, and friends with George W. Bush (who is the only American president they really remember).

I’m 35 and I’m guessing a lot of the people who read this blog are within five years of that. When I think of the Republican Party, I still think of the era of Reagan—a booming economy, the triumph over communism and the shrinking of government. But if someone’s political awareness just started in 2000, what would they think of the GOP? The 18 y/o kids today will probably think of Republicans as the party of fiscal chaos, military incompetence, religious prejudice and managerial nepotism. Ten years ago, half of young people were Republicans. Now it’s less than 1/3.

The Soviet Union, the East German Stasi, Nazi Germany, and Napoleon Bonaparte are all boogymen out of ancient history. The Apollo Project — wasn’t that an old Tom Hanks movie?

They probably remember 9/11 vaguely, and all the grown-ups being very upset. They were ten at the time.

This gets to me for some reason. So far, the War on Terror has lasted 1.5 years longer than high school. At least it’s been easier to get laid during the War on Terror.

The Simpsons have always been on Sky.

They can’t remember when FOX was the fourth network.

Kylie Minogue has always been a singer.

Brittney has always been a laughingstock.

AIDS has been around forever, but there are meds you can take to cure it [not true, but a common misconception among the young].

Every adult had, and has always had, a mobile phone. They’ve had one of their own since they were eleven.

The internet has always been around. Cable or satellite TV has always been around. CDs and DVDs have always been around (and are boringly bulky). Freeview has always been around. iPods have been around since they were ten. They’ve never seen a Sony Walkman, though they’ve probably heard old farts mention them. And what did the coffin dodgers do with those big black round things, exactly?

Nobody they know expects to ever hold a job for more than three years.

Homosexuality has always been legal. Abortion has always been legal. The morning-after pill has always been available over the counter. Handguns have always been illegal.

American kids have experienced everything but the last. One good thing about the last eight years—no 18 y/o can remember when gun control was taken seriously.

The paragraph above is also one reason I think the Culture War will fizzle. Turning back the clock on abortion, birth control and/or gay sex gets more and more difficult with every kid who can’t remember a time when they weren’t legal.

Nobody they know who is under 36 and not already a home-owner expects to ever be rich enough to buy a house. The average house costs as much as a helicopter or a high-ticket Ferrari.

One of the lovely differences between the US and the UK—every American expects to own a house (although for how long is a bit questionable these days).

They’ll probably go to university, and come out of it with debts equal to two years’ worth of their starting salary. (Roughly what somebody twice their age paid for their first apartment.)

Lots of people take antidepressants. Everyone slashes themselves; it’s no big deal. (Statistics show a third of UK teens self-harm at some stage.)

They had their first drink when they were 11 or 12. They first had sex when they were 15 or 16. Only about 50-60% of them have passed their driving test yet, although 90% are planning to before they reach 20.

I suspect American kids drink a little less, wait a bit longer and slash a bit shallower. Most American kids are driving by age 16—although most probably shouldn’t be.

There have always been cameras in shops and schools and other public places, although there are more of them than there used to be. Old folks grumble about privacy, but really, you’re being watched wherever you are. If you don’t like it, get a hoodie.

Tragically, America is moving in this direction as well.

Feel free to add to this in the comments, especially the younger members of the RTLC crowd.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/03/08 at 03:31 PM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by ? on 02/03/08 at 06:06 PM from United States

HI Hal,

I am not within five year (I wish) but I am old enough to remember all the damage that Carter did as president.  I think one of Reagan’s great accomplishments (that is not often talked about) was how he renewed how Americans felt about themselves and their place in the world.  Or better put, our Manifest Destiny. I think that will be the next presidents’ challenge as well.

But I don’t really remember Reagan’s “shrinking of government”.  I do remember the government running up huge debt when he was president.  The only president I have seen slow down the growth of government and fix the debt was a democrat.  Strange?

david

Posted by Miguelito on 02/03/08 at 09:23 PM from United States

I suspect American kids drink a little less, wait a bit longer and slash a bit shallower. Most American kids are driving by age 16—although most probably shouldn’t be.

My niece is 16 now and my sister won’t let her get a license yet… she’s not dumb, but she’s not responsible at all.  At a recent family get together, just before her 16th birthday, she was bragging about how she was getting good results on the practice tests on the DMV site (just being able to take interactive practice tests online is a huge change come to think of it)… she started reading some out loud and we all pointed out she was taking the commercial license test.  She had skimmed over the links so fast and just clicked on the first “test” one she saw… that’s just a tiny sample of how she doesn’t think things through.  Not all that uncommon anymore though.

The internet has always been around. Cable or satellite TV has always been around. CDs and DVDs have always been around (and are boringly bulky). Freeview has always been around. iPods have been around since they were ten.

Not to mention taken for granted.  Sure we all did that as kids, but damn even as they’re getting older they still have no friggin’ clue nor any respect for things.  They’ll trash a computer or ipod and just expect a replacement… cost means nothing.

Posted by dwex on 02/03/08 at 10:22 PM from United States

Not to mention taken for granted.  Sure we all did that as kids, but damn even as they’re getting older they still have no friggin’ clue nor any respect for things.  They’ll trash a computer or ipod and just expect a replacement… cost means nothing.

Now you sound like your parents. These kids today!

Posted by on 02/03/08 at 11:03 PM from United States

Handguns have always been illegal

What planet are you on?  Handguns have never been illegal....

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/03/08 at 11:05 PM from United States

What planet are you on?  Handguns have never been illegal....

Read the post closer. He’s talking about the UK.

Posted by on 02/03/08 at 11:32 PM from United States

ah, all that superbowl beer hasn’t quite worn off…

Posted by Lee on 02/04/08 at 12:41 AM from China

Do you guys remember nuclear war drills?  When I was in elementary school the teacher would tell us that we were going to practice what to do if there was a nuclear war.  We were supposed to get under our desks and pull ourselves into a ball, with our faces covered.  She’s set an alarm clock, and when it went off we had to immediately assume the position under our desks.  (This was about 1978.)

As you guys may remember, I have a “son” who is about to turn 18.  (Ex girlfriend’s kid, his dad never wanted anything to do with him, he considers me his father, etc.) I told him this one day and he just about shit.  He was born in 1990.  The Cold War was over before he even existed.  He knows from school about nuclear weapons and that sort of thing, but the idea that they were ever such a threat they would have DRILLS about it in elementary school was just astounding to him.  We have nuclear weapons pointed at us right now, and nobody gives a shit.  I said, back when I was a youngster, we were all convinced that one day there would be a nuclear war.  “We all thought the Russians would launch a first strike.”

It’s weird thinking about this now, but that was just the nature of the time.

Posted by Lee on 02/04/08 at 12:42 AM from China

I also remember, circa 1983, a cover story in Discover magazine:

“AIDS:  The High Price We Pay for Anal Sex.”

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/04/08 at 01:14 AM from United States

I remember nuclear drills. God, I was convinced that we were going to have a nuclear war.

Posted by Manwhore on 02/04/08 at 02:14 AM from United States

“AIDS:  The High Price We Pay for Anal Sex.”

Remember when it was GRIDS?

Posted by syddelish on 02/04/08 at 03:00 AM from United States

Do you guys remember nuclear war drills?

Duck and Cover, of course!!!

By the way, if you want to lose hours of your life, check out the National Archives video archive here.

Fascinating stuff. Everything from hygiene to coal production to nuclear attacks to mardi gras to burlesque to flood damage to teenage drinking to how to dress for a formal dance, etc…

Basically, every propaganda film you can imagine covering every conceivable subject. And if Prelinger doesn’t have it, it has links to someone that does.

And, of course, I made an awesome video out of some the footage. If you like monkeys riding bicycles and getting ran over by cars and steamrollers and falling into open manholes (who doesn’t), check out the video here.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/04/08 at 03:37 AM from United States

Here’s another one relevant for tonight: kids today don’t remember when the Super Bowl used to be a laugher every year.

Posted by Aaron - Free Will on 02/04/08 at 09:38 AM from United States

I was shocked when I realized that today’s starting undergrads have no recollection of the show “Married With Children”.

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