Monday, August 25, 2014

Clicking around on The Facebook, and this meme shows up in my feed, posted by someone younger than I am.


Yes, they did.

And yes, we were.

I see a lot of nostalgia related memes float around my feed, and I can't help but think that nostalgia is a big, fat lying liar. When I was a kid, kids did stupid stuff all the time. Kids played with matches and jumped off roofs and did back flips into the shallow end of the pool. There was always a kid in every school who would eat the red berries off the bush on a dare, and we thought he was cool.

Because we were morons.

Really, it's because we were kids and the frontal lobes of our brains, our judgment and impulse control centers, were still forming. Kids today? Same deal. They do dumb things the same way we did dumb things.

Except when they don't, by which I mean, except when they're smarter and more tech savvy than adults were as kids. We have a whole other collection of memes for that phenomenon. In this case, nostalgia is pouty. If a lot of the "When I was a kid..." memes are to be believed, we somehow think the inventions we didn't have as kids are the worst thing that ever happened to society because kids today have them...even though we happily use them as adults.

I call sour grapes on this one. We would have LOVED to have smart technology as kids. But we didn't have it, so we poo-poo the kids of today as if our childhoods were so much better.  And we conveniently gloss over the VCR, Atari, Nintendo, Sega, television, know...all those things we chose to do instead of play outside every waking moment.

Let's see. What else? Aha. "Our music was better than your music" memes.

I love Queen. I love Queen Bey. No need for conflict between the two. And seriously, the generation that swooned to Milli Vanilli and New Kids on the Block has little room to talk about the music of today. And it didn't take a genius to write the following:

It's gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It's gonna take patience and time, ummm
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it,
To do it right child

I got my mind set on you
I got my mind set on you
I got my mind set on you
I got my mind set on you

And then there are the "Hey, we survived!" essays that get shared with a resounding, "Hell yeah! Kids today are pampered babies who aren't allowed to live!"  In this case, nostalgia is dangerously ignorant of history. Here's an excerpt of one popular share:

To all the kids who survived the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's !!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking. 
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

Ah, the good old days of lead poisoning, accidental drug overdose, traumatic brain injury, and forceful ejection from moving vehicles. Makes me want to snuggle a Cabbage Patch doll and watch Rainbow Bright. Squeeeeee! Death! 80s!

The thing about saying, "Well, we all survived," is that all the dead kids aren't around to say they didn't. Because they didn't.

Do I think some warnings and regulations go overboard? Sure. Am I pining for the days when kids felt jumping into the car of a potential human trafficker was a perfectly appropriate activity. Yeah, no. Not my idea of nostalgic bliss.

There are sociological studies that say every aging generation thinks the younger one is worse/stupid/responsible for the complete downfall of society (a society they think is worse than the one they remember...). I could link to those, but I'm lazy (maybe because I wasn't raised in the 60s?).

It's a thing a lot of humans do, but a lot of humans do a lot of dumb things, so maybe we can lay off the kids a bit. They're okay, really, even when they're acting like morons.

At least when they become adults they'll have no memory of it.