Wednesday, October 10, 2018

These Kids Today

I woke up this morning with the strangest collection of ghostly images in my head, the remnants of a dream that I don't remember. You know when you have a dusty camera lens, and you take a picture into the sun, and you get those blurry floaters in your picture? That's what my dream looked like -- undefined images obscured by floaters and lens flares.

I think I was in Pinellas County. Something about beaches and bright light. Otherwise it's all a blur.

When I was in the Peace Corps, my site mate -- another volunteer who lived with me in the same community -- used to have incredibly elaborate dreams. She would wake up and relate them to me, and they were always fully plotted with fairly logical development, and they went on for ages. They were like novels. I, on the other hand, would wake up and say things like, "I think I was in Pinellas County."

Anyway, I'm only writing about this because it's 6:23 a.m. In an hour even those ghostly, sunny splotches will be gone from my mind.

I'm reading an interesting book called "iGen," about the young generation born in the mid-'90s and later. (The group after the Millenials.) I figured since I work with these kids it might be interesting to see what makes them tick. Apparently, what makes them tick are their phones. They are the most plugged-in generation yet, but according to studies cited by the book's author they are more anxious and less happy than previous generations, partly because of the pressures imposed by social media. They're also less religious and more focused on individuality and personal freedom, which is great for causes like LGBT rights but surprisingly bad for issues like the environment. There's little sense of collective purpose.

Then again, kids in high school and younger are still adapting and changing. When I graduated from high school I thought I liked Ronald Reagan, but that's only because I had the most superficial understanding of his "great communicator" persona. When I learned more about his policies my political outlook swung 180 degrees. Maybe kids today are more settled in their identities than I was, given how media-saturated they are.

There's also the well-known tendency among young people to delay adulthood, as they rely more on parents well into their 20s and postpone steps like marriage and family. That's partly related to economic insecurity -- they're more worried about making a comfortable living than almost anything else. (I can relate, having seen my own career and that of many of my friends upended since about 2005. Dave and I are doing OK, but we often rejoice that we don't have kids to support.)

Anyway, it's an interesting book. I suppose generalizations about such vast numbers of people always have to be taken with a grain of salt, but I must say, I'm glad I grew up when I did -- a happy member of Generation X, mostly pre-video games and definitely pre-Internet. There was a peace of mind that came with being in my own little oblivious world, and today's super-connected kids miss out on that.

(Photo: A corner on Finchley Road. The posters change, but otherwise it always looks like this. I wonder if that building, which was recently renovated, will ever be occupied.)


  1. Modern phone technology with associated social media has been developed with vast profits in mind. Little thought has been given to the long term effects of phone addiction. It seems that they can never get away from their phones. In the past you could leave your phone off the hook if you didn't want anybody bothering you... or simply walk out of your house.

  2. Things are so vastly different from when I was a child in the sixties. It's a completely different world.
    Better or worse?
    Who knows?
    Not me.

  3. Like Ms Moon. I grew up in the 50s and 60s. a vastly different world. kids had so much freedom then in some ways. and staying on with the parents? we couldn't wait to get out. I wanted nothing more than to be out from under the thumb of my father. but you are right about being addicted to their phones. whenever Gunner, in his early 20s, showed up to work on the house without his dad he was constantly on his phone. phone in one hand and paintbrush in the other. I've always wondered about the pull of social media for teens when they use it to harass and demean and then the kid commits suicide. why do they go there if they know what's waiting? why not just not read the nasty stuff but they do and then they internalize it.

  4. Hey , the best of times to grow up was after the war. It was exciting ans a relief to look to normality again. The economy boomed. Life was good. I wouldn't want to be growing up now. the fun of being a kid was other kids. We played outdoors with things ...trees..climbing... and other things. sounds like a very interesting book.

  5. Agree with RED, My parents often said the same thing, that was an energizing, positive era. If I were to raise a child in this day, I would be less hopeful. I would get them out of the city and into a more sustainable independent location, - cabin in the woods sort of thing...Did you ever see Captain Fantastic? _ THAT sort of lifestyle makes more sense, maybe not that extreme, but a little more connected to books and the earth and the cycles of nature.

    Good description of your waking up from the nebulous dream.

  6. I read an interesting article about the generation that came of age in the 80s. It was in relation to the Kavanaugh hearings, but it really helped putting a perspective on things for me, who is a Baby Boomer 60s generation person. Here's a link: Roger and I walk past kids every morning who are on their way to high school. They are almost always looking at their phones or talking into it. They hardly ever look up, even when the sky is full of sunlit colors and arcs that should take their breath away. I'm afraid they will never know the world or their planet.

    I loved your description of the dream, and the way you wrote about your Peace Corp site mate's dream. I dreamed the way she did my entire life. I would wake in the morning and tell Roger dreams that went on and on and on, in ridiculous detail. Then, back in 2011 I had a headache that woke me in the night. It was so bad I thought I was having a stroke. I woke Roger and asked him to take me to ER. It was 4:00 in the morning. They ran some tests and said that it wasn't a stroke, but a neurologist said it was "an event." A couple of days and weeks later I realized that I had completely and utterly stopped remembering my dreams. GONE. And have not remembered one since then. One last result-- I no longer feel burns on my hands. I miss my dreams (literally and figuratively).

  7. I dream like your friend. Every night I have these elaborate dreams and I remember them for a short time, enough to bore SWMBO with them. Then they're gone. Clearing the slate for another night, I suppose. And, BTW, they rarely make any sense to me.

  8. That little corner of Finchley Road is looking a little shabby. It could use a business in there to brighten things up.
    I've only had a few dreams with a story line that makes any sense. Most of the time I have hazy disjointed dreams. I had a few last night that I'll attribute to watching the movie "Chappaquiddick". That was a disturbing true story that I have vague memories of.