I’ve quite often written derisively about old people. This has frequently been misunderstood as a dig at people of advanced age. It isn’t. I don’t think Betty White is in the least bit old, despite the fact that turned 91 a couple of months ago. What I mean, and what I’ve always meant and always been clear about, is that an old person is someone who irrationally embraces things from and about his or her generation, whether products or ideals or values or gumption or whathaveyou, without regard to the reality of any of those things – all that matters to such a person is that these things were from (or at least preceded) his or her incidental generation. This is most often manifested not in a promotion of those things, but in a random denigration of younger generations and the different things they possess and that define them. For instance, anyone who grew up during the time when video games were also really growing up (mid/late 80’s and 90’s) probably had a friend whose parents wouldn’t let him own an NES out of some misguided principle (as opposed to some budgetary reason), yet he never seemed to be prohibited from having just as much TV or movie time as any other kid. This was generally attributable to the attitude of “I never needed those things growing up, so neither do you” or some bullshit like that. It was another way of saying this new form of entertainment was different and therefore somehow bad. Parents who did that were old, whether they were a couple of 24 year olds just starting out or if they were well-established business professionals in their late 30’s.
Maybe I’ll get lucky and everyone will understand what I mean by “old”, but I doubt it. Regardless, I’m going to push forward and talk about an article by old man ‘Dr.’ Keith Ablow. He’s an alleged psychiatrist who works for FOX Noise, and he’s no stranger to writing really stupid things, but his latest garbage is pretty astounding:
In Steubenville, Ohio two teenage boys— a 17-year-old and 16-year-old—are on trial for allegedly stripping a very inebriated and nearly unconscious 16-year-old girl naked, attempting to make her perform oral sex on them (although she could not even open her mouth), urinating on her, using their fingers to penetrate her and carrying her from one location to another, to continue sexually violating her.
The texts they allegedly sent one another when the girl heard rumors from friends about what happened to her while she was too drunk to be aware of it, or even remember it, are chilling. They refer to her as a dead body, gleefully recall humiliating her and contain degrading statements about all females being worthy of sexual degradation.
In one text, the 17-year-old, knowing he has been identified as a possible assailant, tells a friend that he might as well have raped the girl (not just digitally, but using his penis), given the possible consequences he could face…
Equally heartbreaking is the fact that no one helped the alleged victim, despite the fact that her plight was obvious to many people at the party where she was publicly stripped naked, before being carried away to the house where she was then allegedly brutally assaulted…
How could this happen? I believe American teens are in the grips of a psychological epidemic that has eroded much of their capacity to connect with genuine emotion and is, therefore, crushing their empathy…
Here’s one of those claims where one might expect a teensy, little, tiny, miniscule bit of huge, massive, overwhelming scientific data to support. Ablow doesn’t supply any, and there isn’t any out there anyway. He’s more of an opinion guy, ya know.
Having watched tens of thousands of YouTube videos with bizarre scenarios unfolding, having Tweeted thousands of senseless missives of no real importance, having watched contrived “Reality TV” programs in which people are posers in false dramas about love or lust or revenge, having texted millions of times, rather than truly connecting and having lost their real faces to the fake life stories of Facebook, they look upon the actual events of their lives with no more actual investment and actual concern and actual courage than they would look upon a fictional character in a movie.
(I realize he spends 5 rather lengthy clauses making it sound as though he’s referring to himself before he reveals that he’s still on about teenagers. He isn’t a good writer. Please re-read with that in mind, if need be.)
This really crystallizes why Ablow is such an old man. He begins his attack with references to two of the most popular communication outlets today, moves on to modern TV, then touches on another currently popular method of communication. If this was the early 90’s, he would have gone on about AOL and Hotmail, moved on to Jerry Springer, then railed against party phone lines. He doesn’t have a case to make. He just wants to shit on all the new stuff that he feels is leaving him behind in the world. He’s just being a dismissible old guy right now.
They are absent from their own lives and those of others. They are floating free in a virtual world where nothing really matters other than being cool observers of their own detached existence, occasionally alighting on one another’s bodies, in sexual embraces that remind them—for an orgasmic moment—that they are actually alive and actually human.
‘the fuck? Teenagers still sit together in school for the better part of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. They still have jobs and play sports and do things after school. This isn’t some upside-down world where everything has changed in the course of a decade or two. Teenagers still do things commonplace of teenagers, even if much of what they do is facilitated by cell phones now.
What was once referred to as “the bystander effect”—a psychological phenomenon in which individuals in a crowd tend not to step forward to save a victim, is now an apt label for a large percentage of teens. They are bystanders in their own lives. They are bystanders to the lives of others. And just as they may stand by as a “friend” of theirs is brutally sexually assaulted, humiliated and degraded, they could stand by as forces of darkness gather to confront the American ideals of liberty and justice.
Again – ‘the fuck? I don’t know if the guy is just a fruit bat or FOX Noise has a reference quota for phrases like “liberty and justice”, but I’m going to ignore that last part; aside from, frankly, being entirely fucking stupid, it’s a non sequitur and represents little more than shitty writing to me, so it isn’t worth addressing. However, I will point out the fact that people of all ages from all generations have stood by and watched awful scenes play out – and with no more justification for their inaction than that possessed by those at the parties in Steubenville. No, there isn’t some lack of empathy suddenly emerging in society, showing up with special prevalence in those born after 1993. All we have are examples of terrible action and inaction from an extreme case that happens to be modern. Building an argument against an entire generation premised on an individual incident would lead us to believe that the rottenness of young people of the mid-1920’s was demonstrated with perfect clarity by the actions of Leopold and Loeb. That’s ludicrous.
I don’t trust Ablow. I don’t trust, first, that he’s nearly smart enough to form an argument worth considering very deeply. I’ve read and written about other articles of his and I’ve seen him on TV. I would need to be more familiar with him in order to outright claim that he’s stupid – that’s something I like to be careful to reserve for the right people: see Sarah Palin – but he doesn’t strike me as bright. Second, his entire argument reeks of old man smell. His motivation here seems to be little more than generational shitting.