Still the days seem the same

Just because you make up a word doesn’t mean you get to control what it means or how it comes to be used.

So, OK, “slacktivism” has come to mean something else. But this discussion of that something else by Phylicia Holt at Digital America does capture something of the original sense of the term.

The generational dynamic in 2013 turns out to be the same as it was 20 years ago. You’ve got your older generation looking down their nose at the “slacker” youth because kids these days are apathetic and lazy and yadda yadda yadda. And you’ve got your younger generation pointing out that these so-called slackers are actually very engaged — just because their activism takes a different form doesn’t make it illegitimate, ineffective or unimportant.

Like the man said:

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through …

Pretty soon we’re all gonna get a little older …

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  • Daniel

    Yes! First! Damn! But I’ve left nothing to read, nothing to say… I’m just a working man, no judge of men, but as you say about these children they spit on as they try to change their world, they’re the start of the coming race. I’ll get my coat.

  • Bruce in South Florida

    Let’s go back a bit further: “Why can’t they be like we were / perfect in every way / What’s the matter with kids these days”

  • Is the “Slacktivism” article really the only mention of our Fred Clark on Wikipedia? That doesn’t seem right, somehow.

  • Carstonio

    I’m part of Generation X (the demographic, not the band) and I was surprised when one of my peers launched into a “what’s with these kids today” rant. I had assumed that our culture had moved beyond that after the 1960s. It seemed like targets for rebellion were finite and there was nothing left after the Boomer ascendancy. But the attitude is probably inherent in any intergenerational relations. It probably goes back to the cave era. The first humans who wore animal skins probably got derisive comments from the old-timers. Likewise when some began using fire and cooking meat. I can even imagine the amoebae 1.2 billion years ago griping about the new sexual reproduction.

  • I like to remind people who complain about kids these days that it’s a complaint as old as parenting; that somewhere, in our very ancient history, there was a mother complaining to her neighbor that her kids these days, with their writing, were too lazy to remember all the oral histories, and how that was going to be the downfall of their society.

    Works for things like Facebook, Twitter and “Why can’t anyone write English these days” complaints, too.

  • LouisDoench

    I have a strict philosophy. If you preface a statement with “Kids these days”, stop talking immediately because you are almost certain to be about to utter something clueless and insensitive about a subject about which you are most likely ill informed.

  • We’ve even got a few recorded examples.

  • Carstonio

    That’s a good philosophy. George Carlin once said that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac. The fallacy of perceiving one’s self, or one’s generation, as the center of the universe.

  • Mr. ShifterCat and I actually managed to shut down one of our in-laws’ “kids these days” rants by pointing out that such rants go back at least as far as recorded history. It was deeply satisfying.

  • Lectorel

    The one ‘Kids these days’ statements I’ve heard that I agree with: Paraphrased, it was roughly, ‘due to the increasing financial burdens of loan debt, the unemployment rate, and the blackhole-sized issue of corporate everything, “kids these days” are more likely to be focusing on immediate survival than public acts of activism. Surviving in the current culture is their activism, and it takes a lot more to do than many people think.’

  • Okay, now I’m thinking of creating a new Facebook meme. I’ll make a picture with a few of those quotes, then put at the bottom, “Like and Share if you know where these quotes are from!”

  • Alix

    anyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac.

    Well, unless you’re my grandma. Then, anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a challenge.

  • Is she from Pasadena?

  • Alix

    LOL. No, she’s from Vermont. XD

  • banancat

    I sadly wonder if we’ll ever have a society where each generation doesn’t look down at the following generation. This is especially true with music and other pop culture.

    I’m in my late 20s and recently a bunch of my friends were lamenting that pop rap music just isn’t good like it use to be. Because, you know, 50 Cent was so profound and Flo Rida is nothing but fluff, amirite?

    And I was watching a New Kids on the Block video on youtube and in the comments (yeah yeah, I know), the older generation was complaining that boy bands today just can’t compare to the classic boy bands. You know, One Direction will never live up the depth that *Nsync displayed, who in turn were never nearly as profound as NKOTB.

    It seems so ridiculous to me because I like all kinds of music, but I guess these people don’t have the self-awareness to realize that the generation before them said the exact things about their music as they are saying about the current youth. And it happened surprisingly fast too; these friends are only 26-29.

    Meanwhile, I have always loved all types of music, including a lot of classic rock from the 70s. And it always amazes me when older people praise me for liking it and tell me I have good taste for liking the right type of music before it all started sucking. They’d probably all be surprised and horrified to find that I have Aerosmith and Miley Cyrus on the same playlist, but it seems to me that they are unnecessarily limiting themselves and missing out on some great stuff.

  • AnonaMiss
  • Veylon

    I tend to deal with “kids these days” remarks by immediately railing on whatever scare existed at the time when the complainer was young. People tend to scoot pretty quick when you sound like their parents!

  • You kids and your multi-frequency pushbutton phones! Back in my day, we spun the rotary dial uphill (both ways) to make a call, and that’s the way we liked it!

  • flat

    you know I am not worried about kids these days, It are the old people who drive me crazy.

  • christopher_y

    The one that’s been driving me round the bend recently is, “Kids these days don’t learn to write cursive.” Now I’m 61 years old and I write cursive by default, because for a lot of my life, if I wanted to make a permanent record of something, writing it on paper was the simplest way to go, and cursive was the quickest way to do that. But now, who ever writes anything more complicated than a shopping list or a Christmas card on paper? Kids these days, can they type a lot faster than me? You betcha!

  • Isabel C.

    At 30, that’s my thought as well. Learned to write cursive, have found it totally inapplicable to real life. I know there’s some study about how it improves concentration and coordination, but so do video games, and those are at least fun.

  • Whatver happened to you?
    Whatever happened to me?
    What became of the people we used to be?
    Tomorrow never came at all
    Today went by so fast
    Is all we have to look forward to, the Past?

  • The one that gets me is when people complain about how Kids These Days get coddled and overprotected and how when We Were Their Age we got to play with all sorts of fun dangerous toys and no one got hurt,

    I usually point out how many more scars people in my generation have than Kids These Days, and how if you go back to our parents generation*, how many fewer limbs they have than Kids These Days, and if you go back to their parents generation, how many fewer of them lived to adulthood than Kids These Days (Seriously. In my entire youth, I knew like one person in my peer group who had a serious permanently debilhitating childhood injury; my parents have dozens of stories about “The kid who liked to spook the teachers by popping out his glass eye” or “the kid with the hook” or “the kids with missing fingers”. And both of my parents have siblings who didn’t survive to adulthood.)

    (* Or older siblings or grandparents, depending on where you fall within your cohort. My parents were born at the very beginning of the Baby Boom, and I was born at the cusp of the millennial generation, so the generations don’t align in the usual way, since two of my grandparents were already adults when the depression started.)