An older relative sent me an email recently which included some hilarious cartoons about the damned Youth Of Today and their addiction to technology. Before you ask, no, I did not point out the irony of her emailing that dig. I’m not that mean. But it got me thinking: are we really as addicted to our phones, computers and tablets as the older generations claim, or is that just the latest way to pick on young people?
From my experience, older people have hurled around generalisations about young people for years; some of which simply are not true. Enter the ASBO Generation. These are the chavs that have been punished with that label for drinking cider on street corners and being about as intimidating as Crabbe and Goyle. Although Crabbe might have deserved more than an ASBO for his marijuana cultivation…and participation in the London riots. But labelling all teenagers who have nothing but a terrible dress sense as criminals is hardly appropriate.
Speaking of which, here comes the stereotype of the tattooed thug. According to some older people, the ‘craze’ of tattoos among the younger generation means that they have poor judgement, are therefore less employable and generally a threat to their middle-class idyll. I would hasten to remind these people that the only reason we assume this is a mark of poor judgement is because we have seen tattoos sagging on the skin of older people. There is nothing new about them.
But the generalisation that really gets my bleating goat is the idea that young people are addicted to technology. In 2006 a Demos survey claimed that young people had no social skills, which I am assuming translates as ‘some young people text during dinner/parties/on public transport’. I would like to point out that a) yes, this could be construed as rudeness but b) this does not impede their ability to function socially without a phone. It has also been said that we spend more time creating an online identity than a real one. And for some people this is true. When your Facebook and Twitter identities overtake reality you have a problem, but the truth is that the world has gone online and those who complain about it do so out of a failure to keep up. I like to compare some older people’s attitude towards technology with pretending to not be playing tag when you are too slow to reach base. No one, especially myself, likes to accept failure, but this mustn’t be an excuse to attack those who pass.
Hopefully the older people you know are tech-savvy, GTA playing, Tweeting winners, and for fear of generalising myself, some of them definitely are. But if you have come out of touch with those older people who aren’t, why not send them an email?