Last week I was
forced volunteered to drive my Grandma into the big city for her doctor’s appointment. Usually I enjoy hanging out with my Grandma, especially the casual racism and the long annoying stories about old people. And since she always buys Wendy’s for lunch, it isn’t quite as bad as you’d think. It was still pretty bad though.
She started on a rant at one point about the kids these days. To sum up her incoherentness, every generation of kids is worse than the last generation, with her generation being the best. Kids don’t respect their elders anymore. They misbehave at every given opportunity. Basically, she thinks anyone born past about 1985 is a real moron.
Meanwhile, we have my girl Young And Thrifty, who basically says the same thing. In a recent post, she laments the actions of the Vancouver rioters, and tries to look at the more serious problem behind the riot. Like many before her, she basically talks about entitlement. From her post:
This reckless behaviour brings to mind the pitfall of our young generation, the generation Y. Is it because our baby boomer parents work so hard at making sure we study hard at school, make sure we get everything we want and “need” (you know, that new iPad that everyone else has, or those cool new pair of Nike Air Jordans) in order to fit in with the rest of our peers… that it somehow causes our young to lose awareness of how fortunate we are, lose sight of respecting other people, and lose sight of respecting other people’s property?
Now before I go writing a post disagreeing with Y&T, let me take a minute to tell you how awesome she is. She was one of the hot financial blogger chicks. She consistently writes good content, and includes me in all sorts of link love editions. I don’t want anybody to think that I don’t like her by disagreeing with her. There are certain blogs I don’t like. Young and Thrifty isn’t one of them.
Now let me disagree with just about everything in that quote up there.
First of all, being a young idiot is hardly exclusive to young people these days. My Mom did drugs at a bible college in the 70s, which is absolutely hilarious if you know my Mom. Part of the journey from adolescence to adulthood is making stupid decisions. Everybody does it, and everybody acts like an entitled sh*thead at some point during their teen or early adult years. If you combine that with alcohol, you get some pretty annoying people.
I remember thinking Dairy Queen would be screwed if I quit my after school job. How naive I was. But since this is a financial blog, let’s move back to the financial angle of this.
The reason why kids these days spend more money on gadgets, clothes and other stuff is twofold. First of all, there are all sorts of cool things available that weren’t even thought of in 1972. I currently have over 1400 songs on a piece of technology not much bigger than a credit card. I am typing this post on my laptop, which can look up pretty much any useless piece of information I could ever want in 3 seconds flat. Even the microwave was barely thought of when my parents were kids. Most younger people will file their taxes and use the return to buy items like wider wheels for their Toyota Camry’s, or a flat screen television instead of smartly investing the return into a savings account. We spend more money on stuff these days because there’s more cool stuff available.
As marketers discovered we enjoyed buying stuff that was cool, bankers came up with more ways to let us pay for them. The growth of credit exploded. Mortgages became easier to get, as did credit cards. Stores began offering financing on all sorts of stuff, partially to get people to buy stuff and partially because they made money on the interest paid. So financing expanded, to the point where just about every item above a few hundred bucks has some sort of payment plan option. Is it any wonder why young people, who often lack the foresight gained by life experience itself, get suckered into debt?
The bottom line is that a lack of respect of authority or a lack of appreciation of what we have has been shared by young people of many generations. It’s hardly a problem of just this generation or the one that is currently in school.
So then, we get older people (myself included sometimes) who talk about how different things were when we were young. We were never like the kids of today. Sure, we were annoying and generally a little full of ourselves, but not nearly to the extent of the kids these days. And much like most of us believe we’re better drivers than average, or better in bed, we believe we were better than the average. Parents are especially guilty of this, since admitting you have an annoying kid is basically admitting your failure as a parent. People are really good at being overconfident in their own abilities.
Making stupid decisions is part of growing up. Acting like an entitled little punk is part of growing up. And, unfortunately for some kids in Vancouver, taking part of a mob was one of those dumb decisions. For most of them though, they’ll become contributing members of society. We all make mistakes as youth, these ones are just much more visible than most.
Kids are morons. Hell, so are a lot of adults. Stupidity isn’t confined to just one generation. And, at the end of the day, one generation isn’t better or worse than another. They’re just different.