Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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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 in Down Under • Permalink


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