2013 GREATEST HITS: Hope I Die Before I Get Old
One of the frustrating and surprising parts of writing is what resonates with people and what does not. I don't have any talent in guessing what people like and will pass on, so I just write what interests me and hope for the best.
In February of this year I wrote a piece based on a cartoon I kept seeing which showed the alleged life of young people and how very sad it is they grow up and become so set into patterns and old ways.
But as I pointed out there's a host of things wrong with this cartoon, and almost all of them are very bad for culture.
The truth is, its okay for young people to have wild and exciting ideas, but its also okay for older people to be more cautious and wise. The cartoon accepts that its natural to be influenced by others but only thinks that is good if the others are young and chaotic rather than old and stable.
And as I said in the piece:
Here's the thing - what they think is new and shocking and creative, isn't. Its new to them and it seems innovative, amazing, and world-changing, but it is nothing new. All those ideas, all those concepts, all those solutions and plans were thought of and have even attempted in past. Young people just aren't aware of that yet. Its like young lovers thinking they've come up with everything they do for the first time in history.Those squiggly lines? They're traditional and historical too. The library is full of books about them, all those 'new' ideas and fresh, creative concepts. Its great the young people are thinking about them, its a good process to go through. But its not new.
In fact, over time ideas are tried and examined and considered and tested and some survive, while others don't. New isn't necessarily good or better than old - in fact, it usually is not. Most of the time something different is more New Coke than IPod (which wasn't actually new, but people thought so at the time. MP3 players had been around for years). But we do need new inputs, new concepts and ideas - or at least very old ones that have been forgotten, so the energy and creativity of youth is useful.
But the fact is, the reason people start abandoning those old squiggly lines as they get older isn't boredom or lack of input or laziness or a mind that becomes calcified and loses its creativity. That all can happen, of course, but the main reasons are experience and wisdom.
By the time you're 30 you have tried all those ideas, read and learned about them and where they go, seen more of the world, learned what humanity and life is like, and figured out they don't work. Yes, it seems perfectly reasonable when you are 19 that rich people should just like pay for all the poor people and it would all be great. When you're 50 you understand economics and human nature better.
We need both inputs, but modern culture thinks and teaches that only the young are good and old are awful and wrong.