“Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic


"Today’s teens are … less likely to date. The initial stage of courtship, which Gen Xers called “liking” (as in “Ooh, he likes you!”), kids now call “talking”—an ironic choice for a generation that prefers texting to actual conversation. After two teens have “talked” for a while, they might start dating. But only about 56 percent of high-school seniors in 2015 went out on dates; for Boomers and Gen Xers, the number was about 85 percent.

The decline in dating tracks with a decline in sexual activity. The drop is the sharpest for ninth-graders, among whom the number of sexually active teens has been cut by almost 40 percent since 1991. The average teen now has had sex for the first time by the spring of 11th grade, a full year later than the average Gen Xer. Fewer teens having sex has contributed to what many see as one of the most positive youth trends in recent years: The teen birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, down 67 percent since its modern peak, in 1991.

Even driving, a symbol of adolescent freedom inscribed in American popular culture, from Rebel Without a Cause to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, has lost its appeal for today’s teens. Nearly all Boomer high-school students had their driver’s license by the spring of their senior year; more than one in four teens today still lack one at the end of high school. For some, Mom and Dad are such good chauffeurs that there’s no urgent need to drive. “My parents drove me everywhere and never complained, so I always had rides,” a 21-year-old student in San Diego told me. “I didn’t get my license until my mom told me I had to because she could not keep driving me to school.” She finally got her license six months after her 18th birthday. In conversation after conversation, teens described getting their license as something to be nagged into by their parents—a notion that would have been unthinkable to previous generations."  The Atlantic


 Well, pilgrims, my generation did all these things with a vengeance as soon as we could manage it and we could hardly wait to leave home. This was in the 50s.  The idea of having your mom drive you to school would have been pretty close to the world's worst thing. 

I know a number of young people from the generation under discussion and they are incomprehensible to me.  They are well described in this article.  They seem to be frozen in childhood, content to be fed, watered like plants and expectant of endless praise whether it is deserved or not.   This brings to mind Garrison Keilors description of the children of his mythical Lake Wobegon, Minnesota who are said to be "all above average."

They remind me of the completely isolated people in Asimov's novel "The Caves of Steel" in which individuals live isolated from each other, communicating and working remotely., only coming together occasionally for reproductive sex.

 One wonders what happens when these creatures are finally forced to live and interact in the context of an organization that demands performance in return for money.  Ah, well I have seen this occur among the children of my friends.  Typically these young people have a hard time holding a job.  pl


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99 Responses to “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic

  1. eakens says:

    Come out to San Francisco. These creatures are crawling all over San Francisco making $250K+ a year.

  2. Alaric says:

    The parents of those children are infamous for managing their children’s work life. The parents will actually call the child’s boss to complain, etc. That is shocking to me. Net: smartphones are but one issue. Schools, parents, societal expectations and beliefs are the other issues. Many in that generation have been coddled, protected to previously unmatched levels. They are the stock market bubble, PC thought generation and they often have unrealistic expectations about what is “owed” to them.

  3. turcopolier says:

    They have regular work habits? pl

  4. eakens says:

    yes, by today’s techie standards

  5. Fred says:

    “…. what happens when these creatures are finally forced to live and interact in the context of an organization that demands performance in return for money.”
    I don’t know about the SF culture that eakens describes but in Detroit they learn the art of the SJW pretty quickly. When the bs complaints don’t work to their liking they depart for what they think are greener pastures. Our turnover has been pretty horrendous considering we’re paying at the upper end of the scale.

  6. LeaNder says:

    I’ll never forget the kid that asked me, when I visited friends:
    “Are you walking?”. Setting: A suburb of Seattle.
    One of the many mysteries left in life/mind: how long did it take her to realize there was a bus stop not that far away? Beyond, more arbitrarily, was that the kid of neighbors that got hold of her too widely ranging tom cat? In any case when my friend contacted the local institution to deal with cats, not too long after. It was too late.
    Anyway my friend suspected neighbors.

  7. James Doleman says:

    I think every generation thinks the next one is “soft,” is part of the human condition.
    I’m sure that the older generation looked down on 50’s kids Col

  8. James Doleman says:

    I think all generations despair of their successors. IIRC the kids of the 50’s were despised as “rockers” and “rebels without a clue” by their depression era elders.
    If I may add, I am the godfather of a 20 year old currently studying overseas.
    Think this might be the best informed, best connected generation yet,

  9. apenultimate says:

    eakens is right.
    I don’t think it’s smartphones per se, I think there are two types. One are young adults who do have a good work ethic and have outside interests, social in the physical sense, sports, camping, hiking, dancing, lgbt events (we’re talking San Francisco here), etc.
    There is a large second group who seem to live primarily through social media, though. These people, in my experience, seem to have problems holding jobs, having long-term relationships, etc. Smartphones have made social media much more accessible, but I don’t think smartphones in and of themselves are the causal factor. (I’ve had a smart phone for a long time. I still get things done.)

  10. Andy says:

    This is an attitude that seems common among older generations when looking at younger ones. As part of Gen-X I certainly heard my share growing up. We were, supposedly the “slacker” generation yet we, as a cohort, seemed to turn out no worse than any other. It’s certainly been a bit strange to see my Gen-X “slacker” peers criticize the Millennials in similar ways.
    I don’t think it was any different for the Boomers who developed a reputation for self-centeredness and a “lust” for sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Most seemed to grow out of that.
    Personally, I doubt the millennials will be any different and, when they get older, will level similar criticisms at their children and grandchildren.

  11. iowa steve says:

    In 1970, 2 buddies and I rented a house in New Orleans for $55/month, and we all made minimum wage, $1.65/hr. One person making that wage could pay the rent with a week’s work. Gas was 32 cents/gallon, and we all had our cars. Three young men had a total grocery bill of c. $25/wk.
    Four years later I started at a private law school. The tuition was c. $800/semester. I paid that first tuition by driving an ice-cream truck over the semester. I graduated with a hair over $1000 in student debt.
    Absolutely no one could do any of those things nowadays on the wages we made given the astronomically high costs. Tuition at that same law school is upwards of $12,000/semester, rent for our tiny house would be $600/mo, and we all know the price of gas now, and other costs. My first new car in 1976 cost $2900.
    I would attribute much of the stagnation of the current generation not to smart phones or moral malaise but to the decline in the economy. The cultural attributes such as social media are imho a symptom, not a cause.

  12. iowa steve says:

    As an addendum to my post, above, perhaps I am talking about a different cohort than the article. I think it would be fair to say that the subject matter discussed here might be the children of the upper 10% or so. My frame of reference would be those whom Hillary labeled the deplorables, i.e., everyone else.
    With the staggering amount of debt, the extravagant costs, the lack of upward mobility, and the lack of job prospects, I fail to see how that majority of young people are able to make a go of it. And, no, I don’t think it’s a result of bad morals or a lack of work ethic–at least here in the midwest.

  13. Ante says:

    Smartphones have caused unprecedented alienation in the US, perhaps matching Japan. The hikkimori is no longer a Japanese phenomenon, I would guess it’s equally prevalent here.
    Add smartphones and videogames together and you can prevent social development and engagement with the real world. Most people can adjust to work, they’ll work until they fall over. The people who get in too deep are the exception, albeit a huge exception. The real trouble is in the virtual separation from lived experience that becomes physical separation and alienation. People who are working, have families, but are cut into pieces by devices.
    Is there any way to stop this? There have been attempts to fix social problems caused by technology, in the past. I think there could be programmed time limits and pauses for non utility phone functions, or maybe for all functions. Maybe we could round up the world’s finest creators of spectacle and have them create some dramas and comedies that cast phones as a very uncool item, something for the sad and burdened.

  14. Clueless Joe says:

    Minor detail: It was in the Naked Sun, where they visit one of Earth’s former colonies in outer space, that we see that isolated society, with 20.000 humans and 500 mio robots working for them. Caves of Steel (the previous novel in the series) is the opposite, with everyone living in subterranean mega-cities on an overcrowded Earth.
    Of course, the Naked Sun society ends badly, considering how dysfunctional it is.

  15. Booby says:

    Yesterday I was driving through the campus of a small, expensive private college. The hiway splits the campus & there is a traffic light controlled by the students for crossing. I stopped for a group of about a dozen students to cross on their way to class. I was amazed. Every student had their cell phone in their hand and was looking down “talking”. Surrounded by their friends & class mates, there was not a single real conversation going on. Each student was in their own bubble.
    I have observed students on what appeared to be a dinner date actually texting each other across the table.

  16. doug says:

    Someone once described homo sapiens as the only self domesticated species.
    And yes, I too see todays 20 somethings as pampered, entitled, and adults largely in chronological terms.
    But there is a more significant issue. People are no longer grouped geographically where they have to interact with others nearby. This tended to bring people together. Not that they agreed with each other so much as they came to at least understand each other. It was once called a “community.” That is becoming an increasingly quaint notion. Now people can exist in silos thousands of miles apart. This breeds extremism because it isolates people from having to interact with others of differing backgrounds and views.

  17. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    There was an interesting talk by Dr. Lustig on his new book, the Hacking of the American mind, about the culture of addiction, depression, and the difference between happiness and pleasure, which facebook leverages addiction to pleasure very effectively.
    I also note a class issue not mentioned – of a dozen gen-x’ers I hired for a project, only one remains in my company, and he was the only one from a working class family. My rough estimate is that 90-95% of the local, well respected university’s grads are completely worthless due to their sense of entitlement, poor work habits, inability to focus, lack of practical knowledge, common sense, and I could go on and on, but I will not hire them.
    Something similar seems to be happening in Italy times 10.

  18. rexl says:

    I tried to read this author’s book about millenials and found it impossible to get through, maybe that was just me. But she has found a rich vein, in my opinion.

  19. Hamilcar says:

    No offense, but that comment is cheap and, worse, wrong. The average salary for a software engineer in Silicon Valley isn’t far north of $100k (average salary overall is a little shy of $90k). Less than 1% of SFers earn close to or, indeed, more than $250k…
    See http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Location=San-Francisco-CA/Salary
    The cost of living in San Francisco is almost 80% higher than the US national average. The average price of a home in SF is (as of June 2017) $737,600 – the second highest average sales price in the U.S. A two-bed rented apartment will set you back $4650 per month, or just shy of $60k per annum.
    See https://smartasset.com/mortgage/what-is-the-cost-of-living-in-san-francisco
    Because many of them can’t afford to rent their own accommodation, a lot of these young people live in the vicinity of or actually *on* their employer’s premises, in employer-owned communal living spaces affectionately referred to as “campuses”. In fact, the behemoths like Apple and Google go to great lengths to preserve the college lifestyle for these employees, so that they might choose to live on site in order to save money or simply because they want to stay Peter Pan forever. Others live in smaller shared accommodation with several others well into their late twenties (in the past few years, there have been at least 3 popular sitcoms based on this scenario, e.g. Silicon Valley).
    See http://www.refinery29.com/23649 for a virtual tour of Google’s “Mountain View” complex.
    I imagine you didn’t mean anything by it, but I find your comment to be so typical of the boomer generation – the generation that has either hoarded or squandered the nation’s (their childrens) wealth but nonetheless has the temerity to suggest that kids nowadays “have it too easy”. Kids today aren’t responsible for how they or society in general turned out – we are. But boomers don’t want to take responsibility for anything, least of all the behavior of their own offspring.
    Well, I blame the parents. Especially the morons who believe that allowing their kids to be “free to develop in their own unique way” is some sort of token of enlightenment. Those are the same people who claim that kids today have it easy, and make crass claims designed to salve their own consciences and deflect any sense of responsibility. They are the worst generation, and it’s their grandchildren, or their children, who’ll have to try and pick up the pieces and try to rebuild a society again because, sadly, I think this one is ^&%$ed.
    In the immortal words of Charlton Heston, “YOU MANIAC! YOU BLEW IT UP! AH, DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!!

  20. elev8 says:

    The intelligent ones among them are opportunistic harvesters of parental resources, but perfectly capable of adaptation. No problem there. The genuinely plant-like ones do exist, but probably not in larger numbers than the problem kids of earlier generations.

  21. David E. Solomon says:

    On the bright side, maybe they will stop breeding and the world can recover from humanity.

  22. SmoothieX12 says:

    But boomers don’t want to take responsibility for anything, least of all the behavior of their own offspring.
    A very good post. Agree a lot with what you said. I also have first hand experiences with what you described.

  23. scott s. says:

    Somewhat different demo, but same observation:
    After finishing working out in the base gym, was driving home in the early twilight past one of the “quads” where the maneuver units live/work. A group of soldiers sitting around a picnic table outside. In the gathering darkness, I could see the bright white screen of a phone in front of each one. To be fair, in the center of the quad another group was playing hoops.

  24. turcopolier says:

    My generation were not “boomers.” They were pre-boomers and they started working hard and early while they were still in school. pl

  25. dilbert dogbert says:

    Interesting to read both sides of what is happening to today’s youth. I remember reading in the Smithsonian Mag about how Egyptians used broken pottery shards to write notes. In the dry climate those shards are still readable. Many comment on the decay of the youth of the day. Been going on for 1000’s of years yet here we still are.
    I don’t know if any of SST members are active Grammar School or High School teachers. They could tell us a lot about today’s youth. A very good friend of mine just passed away. He was a retired teacher. It was eye opening to read the comments on social media from his old students about how he changed their lives.
    Reality will still be the best teacher. Good teachers can help clear the path for you so you don’t have to rely so much on reality.

  26. Ex 11B says:

    Wow talk about serendipity! I actually have some insight to offer on this. Previously I stated I was downsized from my oilfield job of 20 years. Since then I committed to living in a high rent low wage beach resort town. Its pretty much service and construction economy. Some shipping and shipyard docks thrown in for flavor.
    I surf and cross-train with a skateboard. This is a unique gateway into that world. When I am at the skate park or in the waves that demographic is an open book and I am an avid reader of the book of life.
    First problem is the parents. And that’s not a criticism. Despite the the stock market bubble and the rosy fake job reports, people at the lower strata are living on the raggedy edge. I am as I have cast my lot with the poor and downtrodden. Plus due to Ft Benning anything slightly better than trying for 1 hours sleep in the mud with the rain really pounding down seems almost luxuries.
    But I WOULD not want to be trying this with a family. Full stop.
    That wonderful sense that anything was possible from the 50s? GONE!
    That Rapscallion 60s generation who smoked weed and lost a war? Busting some occupy wall street heads and arming head choppers in Syria.
    These kids(and their parents) really really want something to believe in but the clown show and the shit sandwich they have been handed, you have to expect a little alienation.I expect the kids that live in the upscale neighborhoods that can AFFORD to date probably make up a vast majority that do date.
    What makes this interesting is just two hours ago after a great skating session everybody was hydrating the question was directed at me “what was it like to date back in the old days? So I shared some of my experiences. The response was universal and I saw the truth in their eyes. ” You are so lucky to have grown up in a wonderful time like that?”
    Its world they cant even imagine living in and the are completely correct. The balloon has deflated the dream is over.Serfdom is here.Kind of kills the spirit a little.
    Plus don’t discount the unknown affects of random dispersal of chemicals randomly or intentionally. Teenagers not wanting to have sex sounds kind of suspect to me combining that with girls that are 11 who look 16-17 and that don’t make no kind of sense. Being candid here and reporting facts on the ground.
    But here is one glimmer of hope from a completely unexpected direction. Some of the black kids and teens think I have “mad verb-age skills” and get after me to help them with their rap songs. The current trend is to get away from the how many white girls I had sex with story line and try to accurately articulate what directly affects them. These kids actually scour the e-dictionaries looking for new and better words. They are actually trying to restore the English language and a pretty harsh with improper usage.
    Whoda thunk it?

  27. Norbert M Salamon says:

    your last comment smoothiex12 is correct, HOWEVFER:
    the USA and Canada and other OECD peaked in the mid 70-s [when both you, Sir, and I were in our mid/late 30-s} for the deplorables. Since then most OECD countries tried to keep going in the same living standards for them by going deeper and deeper in debt – as a society, as individuals, as entitlement funds, as corporations, etc. sans the top 5 %.
    For instance the total debt and entitlement deficit of the USA is approx. 1200% of GDP [Canada is approximately same]
    The young generation knows that they will not get pensions, they will not get high class medical care, etc. as they grow old. To put icing on the cake, they know that the wages they earn at present [with few exceptions] will not raise their living standards anywhere close to that of your or my generation.
    The smartphone etc. is an escape mechanism to hide the foreseeable future deprivation facing them.

  28. ann says:

    The brain forms in the first six weeks of gestation. And the most important time for the development of the brain, besides the nutrition necessary to create a healthy human brain, is the first three years of life. That is when a child needs to look into the eyes of other people to form the neural connections that allow bonding and social skills to develop.
    We (probably all western societies) have parked two generations of children in front of a screen as a babysitter, where there is no feed back from the screen to allow the brain to develop.
    Second, we eat, breath and, in general, consume mass amount of poison, plastic and chemicals that were not even in existence two generations ago. I wonder, how much of the transgender “gene” is caused by chemicals that have rearranged our brain function.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The young people cannot build any equity in those places; and that is for IT employees. With median price of a house at 450,000 USD, good place for C level executives – much like any poor country.

  30. BillWade says:

    Heard this somewhere a while back (paraphrased and embellished somewhat): Old guy:
    “You kids today are lazy and have no ambition. I started delivering the newspaper on my bike when I was twelve at 4 in the morning, I didn’t wear any pansy helmet, no sir. After a few years of that one of my customers said I was a good worker and wanted me to pump gas at his station, I did that for a few years until one of my gas customers offered me after-school work pouring drinks to the daytime alkies at his dive bar, didn’t matter that I was only 16, he knew all the cops. I did that all through college and didn’t get a dime from my parents or anywhere else.”
    Young guy: “If my parents had let me do any of those things they would have been investigated by Child Protective Services and thrown in prison. I would have been placed in foster care only to have been raped by the deviant now in charge of me until I got up the courage to run away and become a male prostitute and then I too would have been arrested and finally reunited with my parents.”

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    2,80 million jobs moved off-shore….

  32. Karl Kolchak says:

    Eh–I used to hear a lot of complaints about us Gen-Xers when I was a young man. Old people secretly envy the young, even if they won’t admit it to themselves. I’d give anything to be 21, totally healthy and fully vital again.

  33. VietnamVet says:

    There is a generational difference between the Silent Generation and the Boomers. On college campus there was a complete change from crew cuts to long hair from the early to late 60s. This was underway before the Vietnam War intensified. The current anger is due the loss of good paying blue collar jobs that paid for cars and education or a wife and kids. John McCain and John Kerry are both too old to be boomers. At last week’s Ken Burns Vietnam War screening they acknowledge that lessons could be learned from the war 50 years ago.
    Strangely, they failed to acknowledge that the longest war in Afghanistan continues forever and that they are chief architects of Syrian and Ukraine policies that are catastrophic failures which threaten mankind with extinction due to the restart of the new Cold War with Russia. I assume once safely ensconced into the elite, their human pathologies are ignored so they can live with themselves.

  34. kgw says:

    Love it!! Thank you all for your unalloyed reflections!

  35. ann says:

    Completely off topic, But I thought the Colonel might want to comment on this recent post in ZeroHedge.
    It is a “new” whistle blower, supposedly from the Cia. Who is talking about the deep state and its difference from the Shadow Government. Very conspiratorial.

  36. ambrit says:

    I have seen this exact behaviour in our local State College, where a similar traffic “intersection” exists. What scares me is watching people driving automobiles trying to “multi-task” driving and texting on a handheld device. I fall back at least a cars length behind those ones, or pass them up, if possible. Beeping the horn hasn’t worked well. I have received several “Middle Finger Salutes” that way.

  37. Walrus says:

    The lament of the old: “If they only knew, if we only could”.

  38. ambrit says:

    What is “funny” “sad” about your observation is that one of my sons-in-law is a code writer living in Louisiana. He makes around 100 grand a year and his family lives quite well. His employers originate from Norway. They’re no fools. They retain most of their talent by treating their people right. When I asked one of the Norwegians why Mandeville, Louisiana, he replied that the talent was there and the living was easy. In other words: Location, location, location.
    I would hazard a guess that the giant data barons use “campuses” as a form of control over their workforce. Very similar to a cult.

  39. eakens says:

    Well you don’t know anything about me, and I am closer to kid than boomer, but that being said, look at the performance of the stock market. People are making money from salary, plus stock purchase programs, options, grants, etc. Notwithstanding that, there is a good amount of M&A activity which brings in even more money to these folks. Layer onto that, the real estate industry – which is replete with folks making $250K+, the healthcare industry, and professional services, there are plenty of people running around making that much money. In fact, I know some nurses that make north of $220K per year in the SF Bay Area. Plus, you have people making significant sums off real estate, and a lot more than 1% own real estate. Here’s an article for you: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/12/now-this-is-ridiculous-782000-over-asking-for-a-house-in-sunnyvale/
    Similar people can be found in Silicon Beach (SoCal), New York, and lately Seattle.
    I’m not saying it’s right or sustainable, just saying it’s what is happening. I also believe the phone and electronics have essentially re-wired people’s brains so as to affect their ability to think, hold conversations, and focus, yet it has created opportunity for money to be made, despite all those “side effects”.
    Not a lot can be done about it at this point. The only thing that will cause people to change IMO is hardship, and unless the draft makes a return, there is a prolonged and significant stock market correction, the good times will continue.

  40. Tel says:

    The US divorce courts and government social workers might want to have a long think about what they have done in terms of discouraging anyone from dating.
    The smartphones merely make it easier to keep informed about what goes on out there. Smartphones have made a generation nervous because with access to unlimited information you tend to grow up too fast in knowledge but not fast enough in experience.

  41. Tel says:

    … and that explains why blaming smartphones is the easiest option.

  42. DianaLC says:

    I had my first computer in the very early 80’s. It was a re manufactured business computer attached to a daisy wheel printer. It had a whopping 64k memory using 8 inch floppy discs. I typed in MS Dos and used control commands.
    I thought technology was wonderful.
    Now, I’m quite bored with it and don’t even have a cell phone. I keep my desktop computer for my files of photos and documents. I have a good printer attached. I use a land line telephone.
    But, I’m even tired of those. I am a Boomer. I didn’t participate in the sex, drugs, and rock and roll activities. I just worked and studied, got through college on a full tuition and fees scholarship, having to maintain an A- average to keep the scholarship. I worked 20-25 hours a week waiting tables on a split shift schedule.
    Now, I remember my youth and my years in college as being wonderful: the learning, the sense of accomplishment. I’ve worked and paid my way ever since.
    But, my last years of teaching caused me to form a huge dislike for technology in regard to cell phones, social media, etc.
    These things seem to make nastiness of discourse an easier and a more acceptable activity.
    It’s harder to be so unpleasant face to face.
    So, my only concern about the current younger generation has to do with the nastiness pf discourse and the ease with which certain ideas/memes get taken up and passed around without any reflection or study, or any research to verify the ideas they think make themselves edgy and smart.
    I spent my entire youth reading–I’ve read more literature and philosophy and linguistic theory than most. So, that’s the other thing that saddens me. I read that the current young generation can’t focus long enough to read anything like a long article, a chapter, much less a book.
    But the times will change again, and the Wheel of Fortune keeps turning. I hope Schlain is right and this “goddess” time period will eventually become an “alphabet” age.

  43. Lemur says:

    technical term is ‘liquid modernity’
    “The subject is constructed in late modernity against the backdrop of a fragmented world of competing and contrasting identities and life-style cultures. The framing matrix of the late modern personality is the ambiguous way the fluid social relations of late modernity impinge on the individual, producing a reflexive and multiple self.”
    Today, this is known as ‘freedom’. Earlier iterations of Western culture understood it as poison. Boomers, with their embrace of the sexual revolution, student ‘identity’, consumption, failure to pass on traditions, and the commodification of experience accelerated the trends (already well established before WWII) toward our current sorry state. The left, backed by oligarchic overlords, promised emancipation of private desire from ‘oppressive’ social structures would cure ‘authoritarian personalities’ and lead to more ‘well-adjusted’ lives. Now basic social functions are starting to shut down, because the contexts in which self-realization can take place have been destroyed.
    We’re youth among the ruins, and hence there are signs among later millennials and gen Z of a radical rejection of the world we have inherited.

  44. Huckleberry says:

    Something to keep in mind: many of these young men never had a chance.
    A stunning percentage of young white American men spent much of their young lives on prescription drugs and free hardcore pornography. This affected their brain development. What their parents and teachers may or may have not done to them is just a footnote to this.
    This “back in my day” crap is just ignorance.
    The Boomers were the last generation to have anything like a normal childhood.
    Gen X had many advantages but were the first generation to experience the destruction of the American family on a mass scale.
    That said, compared to the Millennials and Gen Z, Xers seem like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. They don’t even know what “right” looks like.

  45. Huckleberry says:

    Ritlan and porn are bad for brain development.

  46. Huckleberry says:

    My father (RIP) is from the same generation. Later in life he concluded that he had been born at the best possible time in the best possible place.

  47. turcopolier says:

    I agree that ADD and ADHD drugs and the numbing effects of free porn are involved in this social disintegration of the youth but IMO you have to make your mind. Was the period 1939-1946 (pre-boomers) the best of times to be born into American society? You father thought so and mt wife and I agree with his opinion. Or, is it all hokum to think the the good old days existed? pl

  48. Fred says:

    Almost 1 million DACA “dreamers” and a few million other illegal adults. That of course have no effect upon pay scales or even job opportunities.

  49. Fred says:

    “The young generation knows that they will not get ….. will not raise their living standards anywhere close to that of your or my generation.”
    They are also the generation that voted most for Bernie. There are plenty of politicians who owe thier livelyhood to poverty and promises.

  50. turcopolier says:

    BS. Both you and I could and did. pl

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No surprises there for the Catholic historian, Christopher Dawson. His essays from 1928 to 1939 covers much of the same grounds.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think pornography is a type of propaganda but it is classified as free speech, protected, just like the ideas of Rousseau. I also think that very shortly we will have subhuman sex toys which will onviate the necessity of dealing with real woman or man. At that time, the consequent drop in births will lead to the destruction of all civilization on earth.

  53. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    Both my parents were born just before that period. When I hear from them and their siblings what it was like growing up in the USA during and just after the war and comparing it to my childhood and the current times, it seems that my parents generation lived in simpler times. A time when America was striding the world and the middle class really had a good life. The income & wealth distribution data show that. They did not have the concentration of wealth and income among such a narrow segment of the population.
    Having said that there is so much that technology has enabled now. From information access to communications and medicine. My parents say that what they notice is the general optimism then to the degree of angst today. As a boomer, I believe my generation really f**ed it up. It will take the next generations to right the ship of state.

  54. Eric Newhill says:

    When it comes to smart phones and modern digital culture, Timothy Leary’s, “Tune in, turn on and drop out” begins to make sense.
    The whole thing is artificial and banal. The constant need for external stimulation from “popular” sources is rot. The kids aren’t thinking. They aren’t feeling. Nothing is generated from within. Nothing is character building. Nothing is physically building. And someone, Like Zuckerberg, is behind the scenes pulling the strings and doing the brainwashing.
    It’s the ultimate pussy lemming zombie culture. I blame feminism, Ritalin, social science ( sociology and psychology), the public school system and , especially, MK Ultra for the entire phenomenon. Seriously. There is no better form of mass mind control devised.
    The matrix was a most prophetic movie.
    These young people are different. Never before, in my experience, has corporate management had to attend education on how to handle and entire generation of employees. But there it. We have to do it.

  55. SmoothieX12 says:

    My generation were not “boomers.” They were pre-boomers and they started working hard and early while they were still in school. pl
    I know that. For me “boomers” are also those who went through Woodstock (either physically or mentally), while others, who are not “boomers” in my book, went to Vietnam. For me it is also not just demographic but cultural category.

  56. YT says:

    This Ol’ Dog agrees with you.
    On the cusp of turning 40, he wishes he still had the same Vitality he once posessed decades ago…

  57. ambrit says:

    I was born in the mid fifties overseas. My parents moved to America around 1960 for the “better life” available. They lived through the Second War in London as children. Both told of privations that continued well after the war ended. (Dad was in his house when an incendiary bomb hit it, and the Blitz almost got him and his brother several times.) Coming from that, America in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties was Paradise. So, for me, the sixties were the “Good Old Days.”
    As for the “legal” drugs and porn, well, the parents have to take much of the blame. Some choices are hard. One such is to ‘reject’ societal pressures and raise ones children to ones’ own standards. To accomplish this, my wife stayed at home to care for the children while I worked as much as I could. Family members helped immensely. I’m no angel, but my wife and I home schooled our children to try and protect them from the pernicious influences we saw all around us here in the American Deep South. Our Home School cadre was a very diverse lot: hippies, Christian fundamentalists, and various types of iconoclast. It was a true United Front. Thankfully, our children have turned out, at the end, well.
    Sorry for the rant, but, as I tell my grandchildren, “There Was A Golden Age.”

  58. mike says:

    Not all old folks complain about the young’uns.
    We buried a local veteran last January. Erwin was 93 when he died. A small town boy from a poor family who at eight years old helped his family out by working on a neighbors farm milking and feeding cows before and after school. Built short wave radios and repaired watches to earn money in high school. Enlisted after Pearl Harbor and fought in Guadalcanal, then was wounded at Cape Gloucester. He was getting last rites when he awoke and in a flash of consciousness reached up and grabbed the rosary from the chaplain. After recovery and a short tour selling war bonds he was in the battles for Guam and Okinawa. Then came home and raised a family.
    I had been at a luncheon with him a couple of months before he passed away. An interviewer asked him how it felt to be a member of the ‘greatest generation’. He laughed and said ”My grandchildren are the greatest generation, you should ask them”. I realize his grandkids are not millenials. But I met a few of his great grandkids at the memorial service. They were definitely NOT mired in childhood. They were polite, well informed, and appeared well prepared for the world. My seven grandkids are the same, except one who is a prototypal nerd but maybe that is a good thing in todays world.

  59. MRW says:

    Anf=d the fact that Zuckerberg isn’t recognized for the thief that he is is telling enough. He stole the Facebook software from the creators.

  60. Green Zone Café says:

    We’re only a few years away from superintelligent robots and genetically optimized humans. Unless the continuing stupidity burns the planet with nukes first.
    Who can blame the kids?
    Brings to mind this song:
    Kids These Days
    Tom Rush (1972)
    Kids these days they don’t value a dollar
    Don’t like chewing but they sure can swallow
    Wasn’t that way in my younger days
    There’s something wrong with kids these days
    Times ain’t now buddy like they used to be
    Times ain’t now buddy like they used to be
    I’d have more fun but the women are so hard to please
    Let it burn
    Let it burn, burn, burn
    Let it burn
    Let it burn, burn, burn
    Well, old folks they sure are crazy
    You’re stopping to talk
    And they callin’ you lazy
    When I get grown there’ll be some changes made
    There’s just something wrong with folks These days
    There’ll be better times but I’m getting by with these
    There’ll be better times but I’m getting by with these
    I’d have more fun but the women are so hard to please
    Oh, you let it burn
    Let it burn, burn, burn
    Let it burn.

  61. SmoothieX12: So, what about the ones who went to both Vietnam and Woodstock? What do you call them?

  62. Adrestia says:

    Second, we eat, breath and, in general, consume mass amount of poison, plastic and chemicals that were not even in existence two generations ago. I wonder, how much of the transgender “gene” is caused by chemicals that have rearranged our brain function.
    In a lot of plastics there are softening agents (I’m not sure if this is the proper English word for it) that affect male genitalia. Sperm count is much lower than a few decades ago. Drinking water technicians told me that the drinking water contains a lot of chemicales, hormones and medicine that is not filtered out. IMO this must also affect our behaviour.

  63. J says:

    Can’t blame it solely on the cellphones, we have to include the microwave ovens as well. While the cellphones inhibit their ability to chew bubble gum and walk at the same time, the microwave ovens stagnate their abilities to cook from scratch and use our grandmothers pinch and peck method of cooking.
    If it doesn’t have an off/on button to walk and chew bubble gum, or a ‘start’ button to cook for 2 minutes, they’re lost without a clue.
    Don’t get me started on their lacking the ability to milk a cow and churn their own butter. Their buttermilk today is a tablet dropped in homogenized ‘stuff’ (some call it milk, I like to call it colored water anything less than 5 1/4 butterfat is not real milk to me, Jersey or Guernsey is the only way to go) to cause it to curd instead of real buttermilk, the liquid leftover from churning one’s butter which I had in abundance when I was milking and making my own butter.
    Most of them wouldn’t know how to bale and stack square bales if their lives de;pended on it, which was a good source of income when we were teenagers.
    Phones for us at the time, was a string between two tin cans.

  64. Adrestia says:

    From Glubb Pasha – The Fate of Empires
    The works of the contemporary historians of Baghdad in the early tenth century are still available. They deeply deplored the degeneracy of the times in which they lived, emphasising particularly the indifference to religion, the increasing materialism and the laxity of sexual morals. They lamented also the corruption of the officials of the government and the fact that politicians always seemed to amass large fortunes while they were in office.
    The historians commented bitterly on the extraordinary influence acquired by popular singers over young people, resulting in a decline in sexual morality. The ‘pop’ singers of Baghdad accompanied their erotic songs on the lute, an instrument resembling the modern guitar. In the second half of the tenth century, as a result, much obscene sexual language came increasingly into use, such as would not have been tolerated in an earlier age. Several khalifs issued orders banning ‘pop’ singers from the capital, but within a few years they always returned.

    After this paragraph the following can be used selectively when it is fun to invoke a reaction.
    An increase in the influence of women in public life has often been associated with national decline. The later Romans complained that, although Rome ruled the world, women ruled Rome. In the tenth century, a similar tendency was observable in the Arab Empire, the women demanding admission to the professions hitherto monopolised by men.
    ‘What,’ wrote the contemporary historian, Ibn Bessam, ‘have the professions of clerk, tax-collector or preacher to do with women?

    For me the smartphone is a useful tool. I use it for internet, as a storage device for ebooks, as a torch etc.

  65. Erich Newhill says:

    Even worse, all these “smart” gadgets are stealing your personal information and selling it on the information market.
    I’ve mentioned that to a few kids. They don’t care. They can’t comprehend that there could be any negative consequences to making their private life a commodity. They don’t even understand that Zuckerberg and Bezos, et al have made their very person a product to be bought and sold over and over and, worse, that such people are shaping their very thoughts and feelings with the information they stole.
    Ironic because a lot of the smart phone crowd is vehemently against some statues that they think represent slavery.
    I don’t own one of the devices and never will.

  66. mongo says:

    Hello, Sir,
    Put me firmly in the camp of “is it all hokum to think the the good old days existed,” thank you very much.
    Societies and cultures continually evolve, and as many have noted already, there is no shortage of historical anecdotes from old folks decrying the state of the youngbloods who are following them. Much rarer are accounts of how the preceding generations made the young ones how they are, and this article is no exception. These kids didn’t spring forth fully formed from their parents’ foreheads like Athena.
    I have no doubt that some kids today will think of the current generation was the greatest, and their peers will fill in the spectrum of the other possible answers to the question. Just like their forefathers. It’s surely a different time today than the day I grew up in, and I see that as something to note in passing rather than something to pass judgement on.

  67. Adrestia says:

    They are not that smart though. I’ve tried to teach them to fly a couple of times and they all failed.

  68. Fredw says:

    There have been na number of instances the last couple years of parents being charged with neglect for letting their n10-year old children go to the park alone. How independent and adventurous do we expect children to become when they never get to go out on their own? By the time they are young adults, it is a little late to start telling them that they need to fend for themselves.
    That goes against every message you have been sending them their whole lives. And, as some other posters have pointed out, economic self reliance is actually harder than it used to be.
    As a boomer, I remember that jobs were plentiful when I was young, Many of my fellow boomers were just as casual about them as the young people today are reputed to be. But the consequences were small. It was easy to get another job, and you could actually live on it.

  69. turcopolier says:

    As one of the old people who always bitch about kids I think that US society has declined in terms of opportunity and openness since 1964. What we are doing now is accepting a smaller and smaller pie divided according to more and more radical SJW schemes and emotion. pl

  70. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Thanks for the input.
    Hope that the youth of US Canada et al can convincingly replace the liberal capitalist system. If they succeed there will be a requirement for complete elimination of the PONZI SCHEME based debt in al its various forms

  71. Erich Newhill says:

    I really believe that the so called feminist movement is behind this. Obviously, with the introduction of 50% more workers into the employment market, wages are going to drop something like 50%; assuming the law of supply (of labor) and demand (for labor)is true – and I’m sure it is. This alone explains wage stagnation and unemployment rates more than any other concocted theory that dances blindly around this basic fact.
    Then there are all the children left to be supervised only by liberals in the education system (given both parents working). And all the fatherless children resulting from the “liberated” women and the sexual revolution. When the liberal education can’t deal with certain behaviors – especially red blooded male behaviors – the shrinks and the pharmaceutical companies step in. They also step in to relieve the stress and general angst of the mothers who are placed by the new value system into roles they are not well adapted for. Working in healthcare insurance I see that between 25% and 33% of people are using some form of psychiatric medications. This is the group products population; meaning they are the working families with jobs good enough to provide healthcare insurance benefits.
    Then there’s the whole emphasis on smothering safety enforced by law and social workers. That’s a woman thing for sure too. I was born in ’64. We used to go off on our own all day long, fishing, riding bikes (no helmets!), even hunting with .22s. We would cut lawns, stack hay, clean up work sites, caddie, whatever for money. I bought my first car (that blue 67 Mustang) from money I had earned and saved in my pre-driving years.
    Kids cannot do any of that these days. It would be considered akin to child abuse. When we had issues with other kids from other neighborhoods we might have to duke it out. No one died. We learned a lot about ourselves that way. learned to man up. That would be considered “toxic masculinity” or something these days.
    So yes, I would say that youth really are different. The smart phones are just something to occupy the mind and direct behavior and thought lest primal (especially male) urges become a disruption to the brave new world. We were much better off, as humans and, especially as males, back in the day.

  72. Norbert M Salamon says:

    In the same line was it yesterday that MSM was berating the President for allowing a youth to mow the lawn in front if the White House.
    How many of us worked before graduation from High School? Paper delivery, flyer delivery, pin setting, snow shovelling etc.?
    The Crazies in power had completely negated all such opportunities to assure “safety” against ??? walking to school? playing unsupervised in a play ground?

  73. J says:

    Its the Illuminati depopulation agenda some would say. do more with less.

  74. J says:

    Since 911, IMO they (the power brokers) have taken our Bill of Rights and our U.S. Constitution right out from under our noses. While we lost openness and opportunity since 1964, we have lost our fundamentals since 911 with their creation of bureaucratic boondoggles and unnecessary agencies.
    What ever happened to all the gold that was sitting in the twin towers basement pre911?

  75. Bobo says:

    As one of many who have just finished cleaning up after Irma I bagged 75 bags of oak tree droppings plus numerous limbs etc placing all on the street. While doing so I noticed a number of young people with earbuds walking by on the street without a care in the world and I would of paid big bucks for some help. Now at the company yard on the river (flooded) four middle aged landscapers were the only ones to stop by and give a quote and I jumped on their ridiculous price. They humped for eight hours like I have not seen in years and well earned that ridiculous fee. A lot of young people stopped and stared at them questioning what they were doing and how they were doing it. It seemed in their view that some sort of magical machine should drop out of the sky and put all in order.
    Had a middle aged school teacher stop by looking for work recently. He had all the proper credentials and we got talking. He told me he has had it with today’s kids as he was supposed to be teaching that day but stopped in before heading to court as a 15 year old female student had chucked a chair at him in class and hit one of the other students accidentally and was before a judge that day and he a witness.
    Looking a little inward at my seven grandchildren I see a different world. The teenagers are no longer driven to school by Mom they are Ubered and Ubered to afterschool activities etc. as Mom is their activity scheduler. The only value I see is less car accidents or less DUI charges which is good but the world is there for them. Now when time arises that they realize that they are there for the world I cross my fingers and hope all turns out well.
    At work I will not hire anyone less than twenty five and they have to have a wife and children as then I know they understand responsibility. That is the reality of life and my old adage of 75% will make it and 25% will always need help is moving towards even odds.

  76. Bill H says:

    In the 1980s when we were bragging about having the highest standard of living in the world, I agreed that we had earned it. We worked for it and built it. But there was, I thought, a caveat. We were assuming that equalizing the standard of living meant that the rest of the world would come up to meet our standard, and there are simply not enough resources for that to happen. Equalization would inevitably mean that our standard of living would, to some degree, decline. I suggested back then that the outcome of that would not be pretty.

  77. Fred – outsourcing, immigration, income gap.
    That last is the killer. It’s not so much the cronies or the super-rich. It’s the top ten per cent.
    That top ten per cent shouldn’t be regarded as the enemy. They’re just us – those of us who’ve worked harder, or had the breaks, or who happen to be brighter or more savvy. There’s a liberal admixture of jobsworths or cronies in with them but as a whole that’s a load of people you can’t do without if you want to keep an economy going or a country adequately defended and administered.
    But they get too much money. How to reduce the monstrous and increasingly unworkable income gap without engaging in class war or the sterile politics of envy against the top ten per cent is a problem none of the Western countries have been able to tackle.
    It’s a problem obscured by the fact that a large number of older people, as “Iowa Steve” above recounts, got the breaks when there were breaks to be had. Short of money? Drop round to the nearest farm or building site. Family to bring up? Go and get a permanent job. Don’t like it? Get another. Need a place to live? Buy a house. Not for all by any means but for many, it was that easy. It’s not easy any more. I meet younger people all the time, better qualified than I and, as far as I can recollect those distant times, more motivated and organised than I ever needed to be. They’re breaking their teeth getting the basic requirements for a decent life that in my time we took for granted. The danger is that the older group who’ve made it ask the wrong question of these younger people. They ask “Why can’t you have the wit to do what we did?”. They should ask “what’s gone wrong that makes it so much more difficult?” Criticising the losers rather than examining the circumstances in which they must inevitably lose is the rule for very large numbers of prosperous older people. So they cling to and vote for the status quo rather than wishing to see it changed to something more workable.
    Doesn’t help that we’ve screwed up great swathes of our education system. Yes, I meet, particularly in the hard sciences, people better qualified by far. The norm’s gone right down for many though. Here and I think in the States the trend has been for more centralised control. That inevitably makes it easier to politicise education. Great, if you like the politics, but it does get in the way of putting across the basics and encouraging the children to think for themselves. As the comments indicate you don’t get competent and self-reliant people out of a system that attempts to enforce a safe conformity.
    But those two factors are disadvantages rather than insuperable obstacles when it comes to addressing the problem of the increasing income gap. The real obstacle is that no one has seen the need to come up with a solution. Look at Trump 2016. A lovely centrist programme offering for the first time in the West a chance of avoiding the disruption we’re otherwise heading for. Offering real solutions to problems the politicians usually pretend aren’t there. I’ve never seen anything as constructive ever, and I’ve been around a while. Yet there’s a damn great hole in the middle of that lovely programme. This isn’t the 1950’s and we can’t rely on explosive growth to smooth the path for us. If the deplorables are to get more the top ten per cent must get less. What did Trump or his team ever have to say about that?
    We’re still waiting to see whether Trump can inch his way past the road blocks. Some are even suspecting he no longer wants to; recently I came across something by that once stout Trumpist Anne Coulter and she’s definitely gone off the boil. But if Trump ever does get us out of the last chance saloon – I say “us” because there’s more than one country will be affected by his success or failure – then that problem of the income gap is one that’s going to have to be confronted head on.

  78. LeaNder says:

    The brain forms in the first six weeks of gestation.
    ann, you feel the field should find academic sponsorship? Doesn’t need to, since we already know all there is to know? Would need to be a longterm study anyway.
    Are you suggesting: It should be related to a another long term study to check if chemicals could help to produce something like a transgender gene? Or did I misread you?
    Besides what’s behind your assumption, that “the development” of the human brain is restricted to the first three years? And how would that manifest? Nothing happens to our brains after? From a nitwit perspective that feels unlikely.
    But yes, somewhat triggers admittedly psychology beyond pure biology. Erickson for instance:
    Nature/nurture/family context/outside influences/past to deal with/environment/…
    What else could matter beyond given purely biological factors? In mental developments. Do we understand the brain by now? But yes, its no doubt an interesting matter. Just like the belly or the second brain, biologically speaking.

  79. MRW says:

    Erich Newhill,
    You should read this: Data Scientist Cathy O’Neil: “Algorithms Are Opinions Embedded in Code”. She’s a Harvard mathematician and has been sounding the alarm for a few years. This is a transcript of her TED talk. Or you can click to watch it. It’s about 15 minutes.
    The bigger problem is that since 1980 everyone has bought into the fallacy that government is ‘bad’ and the private sector is ‘good’, ever since Grandpa Reagan made it his mantra. But the problem is that Reagan didn’t understand the difference between the purposes of state and federal government. He came into office assuming they were synonymous. And they aren’t. Moreover, the federal government doesn’t need to earn revenue in order to survive. A state government does.
    But this fallacy allowed the media companies to beg for federal deregulation in 1985 which Reagan granted them. Before that, we had 50 media companies, state confined—ownership was regulated, and since the public’s interest was more important than profit, the public’s interest was protected. But now we only have five. The deregulation allowed Australian Rupert Murdoch to take spectacular advantage of it, which is what caused him to become a US citizen in 1985.
    Before deregulation, media companies had to honor the 1934 law that gave the public ownership of the airwaves and subjected media companies to rules they had to follow or else. It was why radio and broadcast had to pay for licenses; they were paying the public.
    News was a public interest and sacrosanct. CBC’s William Paley kept the News Dept. separate from the entertainment and opinion sections. And he didn’t give a damn if the News dept didn’t turn a profit. CBC News was the ne plus ultra of news departments for decades, as many here will remember. That ended in ’85 when the accountants took over—ABC Cap Cities was the worse—and in order to survive in the new deregulated world, news departments had to become infotainment centers.
    Federal government employees can be fined and jailed for violating the 1974 Privacy Act. Not Facebook employees. They get to violate your privacy and profit from it.

  80. Fred says:

    Replace the capitalist system with what, a new version of the socialist utopia that failed in the USSR, Vietnam, China, Cuba or the gloriously successful one in Venezuela? Or does that generation have something else in mind?

  81. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Societies also devolve and become worse and worse.

  82. What an appropriate posting to come home to. I just returned from another week of housewrighting in Halfmoon, New York. In addition to the joys of physical work and problem solving, preferably not in that order, we have no phone, TV or internet service in the house. Neither SWMBO or I own smartphones, just pay as you go burner phones for convenience and emergencies. I take my laptop with me and use the free wifi at Lowes when I pick up supplies. It is a cleansing time.
    Jean Twenge’s Atlantic article on the effects of smartphones on our youth reads like many of the “technology and social change” anthropological studies I read during my undergraduate studies. The one I remember most is the effect of the introduction of snowmobiles among the Samek nomadic reindeer herders in northern Scandinavia. The smartphone is having a dramatic effect on our society and culture, probably even more dramatic than the snowmobile effects on Samek culture. The smartphone seems to taken on the cultural significance of the the worst and debilitating cargo cult one can imagine. Most of us “adults” can only shake our heads as our traditional face-to-face culture is irreparably fractured by the smartphone. Sure there’s a lot more to our ongoing culture change than the rise of the smartphone, as many here have noted, but I do see this one piece of technology extending the goods and ills of the internet driven knowledge revolution deep into our psyche.

  83. Fred says:

    “If the deplorables are to get more the top ten per cent must get less.”
    So there is a finite amount of wealth on the planet and it is an economic war of all against all for thier share? Pure bunk.
    “examining the circumstances in which they must inevitably lose…”
    That’s bunk too. There was a vision, and for many there still is, of America as an aspirational society. It is the left that has been deconstructing that vision for decades. Our “education system”, especially colleges and universities, have been primary culprits in tearing down the cultural norms that made America what it is. The need for a college degree is vastly over rated and the value of a diploma highly debatable other than it being a necessity as a marker of social prestige. Most of the degree programs today are little more than credentualling factories that churn out conformist products rather than educated adults. The massive debt load being taken on by families – by societal pressure to conform by getting that degree – is part of the reason for economic decline of the family. I believe the rapid acceleration of home schooling is proving that point.

  84. Huckleberry says:

    No, I think the good old days absolutely existed. I got to see it reflected in the faces and stories of a very large number of relatives. I’d date it from around 1935 to 1946.
    What I meant was that a lot of older people tend to retrospectively increase the hardships of their own experience while minimizing those of subsequent generations. Not exactly an original insight.
    When I spoke of “ignorance” I was typing mad but trying to make the point that much of what has messed up people 30 and younger in this society was sort of “invisible” and hard to see as a result. I meant “ignorance” literally, but was imprecise about what. My bad.
    Have you ever heard of “Old Economy Steve”?
    Do an image search for it on Google. It’s funny, in a black humor sort of way, and explains why people 50 and under want to tear their teeth out whenever this sort of conversation breaks out.

  85. Hamilcar says:

    “failure to pass on traditions”
    your post, and this quote in particular, is what I was alluding to when I reflected on the boomers aversion to taking responsibility for how society has turned out. The responsibility of any parent is to figure out how the world works and to teach their children how to survive in it – this is true for all mammals. The boomers (a large number of them, at least) abdicated that responsibility by rejecting the inherited wisdom of their forebears and taking a backseat. Instead of feeling ashamed for letting their children down, they congratulate themselves on their open-minded approach to parenting and castigate the younger generations for being unable to emulate their ‘success’. They blame the kids for their own neglect and the sorry state of society overall. A better term for them would be “the selfish generation”.
    Why are they selfish? I recall reading something about selfish boomers in the UK: The author linked their behavior to a hoarding mindset inspired by post-war rationing. They implicitly blamed their parents generation for their childhood circumstances and thus rejected the wisdom imparted by them. Their parents didn’t leave them very much, so why should they have to subsidize subsequent generations? I’m not sure if there’s anything to the claim, but the war must surely have left its mark (I suppose a lot of these boomers also grew up without fathers).
    I was raised by my silent-generation grandparents and not my boomer parents (who fit the stereotypical profile of boomers to a tee). My grandfather joined the Navy in 1944 and left in the early 70’s. My grandfather was absent for much of my father’s youth but he was around for mine.
    One thing I’m sure of: The new generations aren’t going to pay for boomers to live out their days in luxury, when all they have to look forward to themselves is hardship. I can see things getting pretty ugly.

  86. MRW says:

    The Etan Patz disappearance in 1979 started the helicopter parents thing.

  87. BillWade says:

    Bobo, I feel your pain,we live in Charlotte county, didn’t fare too badly. There are no kids here looking for it but there is plenty of work (alas, no smart phone needed)if you want it,the better off elderly here will just have to wait for yard cleanups till the 50+ year olds get around to it. Although comfortably retired, my wife and I continue to work at things we like doing but the odd thing is that our customers are all our age or older. We’ll probably work till we drop.

  88. Fred – agree – there is no finite amount of wealth on the planet. But we’d have to be very lucky to get that explosive growth of the post-war years again. EROI may be over-emphasised by eco-nuts like me, but it’s only one of the factors that’s going to put the brakes on.
    Also agree that there are plenty who still have the vision of an aspirational society. In fact I know very few personally over here who are doing the mom’s basement thing and none from choice. But I do meet many well qualified and well motivated younger people who’ve got the aspiration but whose chances of getting now what was so easy earlier are slim.
    In theory, what with automation and easier information exchange, we should all be sitting pretty. Don’t think we will be though. The cake’s going to have to be sliced differently if the pitchforks aren’t to come out. Doesn’t mean a command economy, by the way. A different framework, rather. That’s the bit I think the Trump movement was weak on.
    It’s not clear to me, incidentally, whether the Trump team just hadn’t worked out that cutting outsourcing must mean a noticeable reduction in living standards for the top ten per cent if it was to be effective, or whether they thought that letting the top ten per cent know about it was something it would be politic to do later. I think that team had some bright people on it so I suspect the latter. And maybe they hoped – as perhaps you are hoping if cutting outsourcing were to come off – that the effect would get lost in the clutter.
    You say “Our “education system”, especially colleges and universities, have been primary culprits in tearing down the cultural norms that made America what it is.” Couldn’t agree more.
    There I believe you identify the root of it – the unrealistic and dysfunctional cultural norms we in the West are imposing on ourselves. “It’s the values, stupid”, that President should have said. Get those right and the rest follows.

  89. SmoothieX12 says:

    What do you call them?
    Went and being formed as humans are very different things. I guess I am a very strange fellow but somehow I find Forrest Gump to be a very admirable person. This is not to mention that I do have a profound experience of Soviet Afghan and American Vietnam vets drinking each-other under the table. One of them, from Santa-Fe (he lived across some very famous Hollywood couple) was an exemplary human. Let’s put it this way–I am biased towards military, maybe because I was one.

  90. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is a city in Costa Rica called Heredia. Many of those jobs went there.
    The jobs were white-collar crecial jobs that used to be the entry into upward mobility. Those are not jobs suitable for people with minimal education or knowledge of English. GE, IBM, HP, and many others are there.

  91. Stephanie says:

    I understand there have been instances of parents accompanying the kid to the job interview.

  92. Croesus says:

    A Silicon Valley-based intelligence technology corporation opened an office in Northern Virginia. Its reception room has skate boards, bean bag toss games, scooters, hoola hoops. One imagines the majority of hires are engineering types right out of college, i.e. ~22 yrs old, but don’t any 40-year olds work there? Do none of these 22 year old computer geniuses stay around once they’ve outgrown frat boyhood?

  93. Aristonicus says:

    “So there is a finite amount of wealth on the planet and it is an economic war of all against all for their share? Pure bunk.”
    Why then, do the 0.01% behave as if there is a finite amount of wealth? Why have they squirreled away at least $20 trillion in tax havens?

  94. Jack says:

    I think you may be on to something with the feminization of our society. We see the effect of that in the growth of the nanny state. Kids that are not compliant are immediately labeled as troubled and fed drugs and subject to psychological “treatment”. Disciplining kids by parents is considered taboo and Child Protective Services is always there to second guess and presume parents are negligent and guilty as a starting point. There’s no doubt some abuse takes place. The problem is discernment. And a one size does not fit all.
    The nanny state naturally leads to a very intrusive state that interferes in all aspects of people’s lives. And it reflects the moralizing tone adopted by both the right and left on social issues. The other aspect is that no one is accountable anymore. It is always someone else’s fault. The Twinkie defense. The poster child is Hillary Clinton who blames everyone but herself for losing the election.
    We can’t really blame the kids. It’s our fault that they’re not being prepared to face a nasty brutish world of human frailty.
    You know about health care finance.

  95. Jack says:

    If we believe our kids and grandkids are not prepared to face the reality of life then the fault lies with us as it was our job to prepare them. We’ve been living high on the hog for some time. The median boomer family has very little in savings. It is shocking the number of families living paycheck to paycheck. When one adds student debt, other household and corporate debt as well as state and local government debt it is staggering. The next generations are going to be saddled with a lot of liabilities, many of which like pensions have not been adequately funded.
    This note by John Mauldin provides some insight into the challenges faced by state and local governments in paying out pension claims.

  96. Adrestia says:

    I’ve been searching on Internet but couldn’t find the experiment. So this is from memory.
    In the past an xperiment was done where macaque monkeys learned to play a simple video game. When they performed well they got fruit as a reward. After some time the macaques didn’t respond to the rewards anymore, but kept playing the game.
    IMO this seems to imply that we primates have a built-in sensitivity, vulnerability or addiction to electronic games/television/smart-phones etc which transforms our societies and social interaction.

  97. Fred says:

    White color clerical jobs were outsourced to native Spanish speakers in a small city in Costa Rica? That’s a new one to me. HP, IBM, GE etc outsourced to cities in India just like most of the other Fortune 100 firms. Hope they don’t outsource your payroll system there since Indian culture is nothing like American culture and you’ll have fun getting trivial problems resolved.

  98. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No, it only means that humans and animals are living in a perpetual state of boredom and need diversions.
    “Against boredom, gods themselves must take up arms.”

  99. Red Cloud says:

    Who raised these creatures to be this way? Hmmm…

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