Friday 13 July 2018
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
Oh, I’m so mad I’m getting old
It makes me reckless
(When We Were Young: Adele Adkins, Tobias Jesso Jr.)
Yeah, sorry, this post isn’t actually about Adele, more that I get what Adele and Tobias were trying to say when they wrote ‘When We Were Young’. I do, I get it. Getting old. Sh!t. Creaks and groans that you never had before suddenly start making an appearance. Forgetfulness comes for a party every now and again. The need to take a nanna nap in the afternoon . . . Okay, okay, it’s not so much the getting old that gets me mad. Well, it does a little. All those things we thought we’d have done by the time we got to whatever age we’re at and we haven’t done them, or they never eventuated. That makes me a lil mad, but getting old, sh!t, there’s nothing we can do about that. At least, there’s nothing we can do about that yet.
What does get my hackles up the older I get is when I think about the generations of people younger than me and everything they don’t know. It’s not so much that it gets me angry, but it does make me melancholic. It’s nothing new, I know. Every previous generation has felt the same about the up and comers. That’s just the way things are. But, yes, the older I get, the more melancholic, disheartened, and saddened I feel about the young ‘uns and the stuff they don’t know.
Damn, I can feel myself going into one of those lecture moments where people say things like ‘When I was young’ or ‘When I grew up’. Here it comes . . .
When I was younger, the majority of kids I went to school with had, at the very least, a good level of general knowledge. We knew stuff. And we knew stuff about a lot of different things. Certainly my best friend at the time and I had probably above average levels of general knowledge. I still have an interest in learning as much as I can about all manner of things that I find interesting.
These days, I think the level of general knowledge of the majority of kids is low. It’s the minority of kids who have a thirst for knowledge. It’s the minority of kids who know stuff. A certain level of blame can be laid squarely at the feet of the Internet. Why learn things when you can Google them? Why retain knowledge when you can Google whatever the hell you want? And when you live in a world where instant gratification is essential for anyone to maintain any sort of interest in anything, what can we realistically expect?
Then I think about the important stuff that these younger generations have little or no knowledge of – the great art, literature and music; the artists, writers, poets, musicians and composers; the old-school Hollywood actors and actresses in the old-school Hollywood movies; the great British TV shows, movies, actors and actresses; theatres and plays and musicals; philosophers and thinkers; inventors and scientists and humanitarians and people who changed the world; the myths and legends we learned as kids. I could go on and on and on about this, but I’ll only end up lamenting the loss of . . . civilisation as we knew it.
Oh God, and then there’s that thought – what about all the people who, as kids, wanted to be doctors and lawyers and engineers and jobs that required high levels of intelligence? Who will fill those positions when so many of the younger generations have no inclination to follow those career paths? They all want to take gap years and then, maybe, some of them will get around to studying.
We frequently have statistics thrown in our faces about how illiterate and innumerate the younger generations are. To be fair, it’s bloody difficult to teach a kid who is switched off because you’re not some iPad app or Minecraft character, and what you’re trying to educate them about isn’t interesting to them. Well, sorry, but I happen to think knowing when Australia Day and ANZAC Day are a pretty important thing. I also think learning your times tables, how to spell, write and read, how to use and understand language, how to reason, along with a sh!tload of other skills and knowledge are hugely important. Not to mention how to behave in a civilised, courteous way, and taking responsibility for your actions, choices and words. But then, I’m kinda old fashioned like that.
Oh, if I don’t stop writing about this now, I’ll go on forever. I suspect this is one of the feelings of getting older – the sad realisation that it is entirely possible that society, nay, civilisation is doomed. And it’s with that thought that I sing the lines ‘Oh, I’m so mad I’m getting old, It makes me reckless’.
Cogitate on that for a while.