Youth (Me) and Why I Hate Them (Me)
by Nic Olson
Santa called me at work. The recording of his voice seemed as if he cared less about Christmas than I do. Painfully forced. Knowing full-well that he hated his life. His voice brought forth images of a forty-nine year old male drinking from a 40oz of bad whiskey on the day before his birthday which also happened to be Christmas, wearing a vomit-stained cotton beard, just after calling his ex-wife about when he’ll pick up his sixteen-year-old over the holidays. A slouch. All the recording told me was that I need to be good so that he would deliver a present in my chimney this Christmas. Not even a promise of a free cruise. Just a pre-solicitation for something that may or may not include the loss of my anal virginity. This is Christmas.
And children love him. They love the undoubtedly alcoholic, morbidly obese. The kids that cry at Santa photos are the ones with natural instincts to stay away from the downfall of mankind.
But who am I to judge this digitally-recorded Santa? I have become that lonely old man who sits alone, thinking about the one(s) that got away, smelling the various disgusting parts of his body throughout the day. The man who constantly wonders what happened to the younger generation. Who loathes technology, the things considered as viable entertainment, many forms of social interaction. At twenty-four, I am that man. Different, but no better than the inebriated Santa robo-calling the nation with threats of gift-giving. But, I don’t know what previous generations were like, so I can’t responsibly say that I can see a cultural and intellectual decline. And saying that the world is worse off than it has ever been is history-ignoring naiveté.
And when I’m thinking of points to my argument of why youth are despicable and why I don’t want to be a teacher or have a child, I have to check my email three times, look up the writer to an episode of television. My attention span has been shortened thanks to constant interruptions in my pocket and the ability to get any information that I ever wanted at any time.
In the thirties, Evelyn Waugh’s characters of ‘Vile Bodies’ seemed to constantly critique the younger generation.
‘Don’t you think,’ said Father Rothschild gently, ‘…[t]hey won’t make the best of a bad job nowadays. My private schoolmaster used to say, “If a thing’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.” My Church has taught that in different words for several centuries. But these young people have got hold of another end of the stick, and for all we know it may be the right one. They say, “If a thing’s not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing at all.” It makes everything very difficult for them.’
‘Good heavens, I should think it did. What a darned silly principle. I mean to say, if one didn’t do anything that wasn’t worth doing well–why, what would one do? I’ve always maintained that success in this world depends on knowing exactly how little effort each job is worth…distribution of energy…And, I suppose, most people would admit that I was a pretty successful man.’
-Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies, p111
The slight shift in the adage, and the youth become defeatist, single-use, one-task brains. Instead of attempting at excelling at many things—like how your dad can fix the car, build a bathroom, design a power plant, and your mom can fix jeans, bake the greatest pies known to man, know so much about health and the world—the youth decide that they will attempt to perform a single task adequately, while being useless at everything else. Because they can.
The wise adults of this book then talk of success being the bare minimum with maximum profit and high efficiency. Success. Suddenly moronic youth with one skill-set and the inability to focus sound pretty reasonable. Like the success-hunting adults, but with a sense of humour.
If Santa calls me back, I would like to talk to him. Not just listen to his nightmarish recording. He has seen the youth and he has seen them grow up. They have sat on his lap for the hundred years that he has existed, and he has seen them grow up into these success-hunting adults, placing their new children on his lap, and so on, and so on. He would know. He’d be able to tell me if the youth are getting dumber. If technology is ruining our ability to focus, or ability to give a shit, or ability to be shocked, or ability to learn and retain. I mean, he is the one making most of these toys and giving them to our kids. And at that revelation, Santa’s drunk voicemail message seems more threatening than before. Not only does Santa want to deflower my anus, he also wants the be a part of the plague of idiocy in our children. The dumber the children become, the more they need his gifts. The more they need his gifts, the fatter he becomes. The fatter he becomes, the more women he gets.
Don’t call back, Santa. I’m already plenty dumb.