Old Fogey Ranting

Old. I am. Officially.

And worse, I am Old and Cranky. A two-fer.

At age 38, I have somehow transformed into that bitter, judgmental old biddy who waves a cane at the damned whippersnappers and laments what happened to the good old days.

The days when we ate lead paint and enjoyed its crunchy burst-in-your-mouth flavor. The time we, at any moment, could be pitched through the windshield like a spiral-cut ham, due to our lack of safety belts and car seats.

I have become this person.

I realized I had become Great-Aunt Gertrude of Fogeyland when I went for Chinese food, and I found myself staring steely-eyed at the teen at the next table.

It was family bonding time there for Teen. An evening out for fried rice and family moments. But was Teen talking about her day? Was Teen passing the lettuce wraps?

Teen was texting.

And texting.

And texting.

Twenty minutes, Teen sat at that table in a Cone of Silence, texting.

Then she put it down.

And picked up the portable video game player.

Now, I know the world has moved on from the sepia-toned days I was a kid. I mean, just the fact that poo-brown corduroy split-skirts are no longer a wardrobe staple is a sign of that. (One case, for the better, I admit.)

But if I'd brought even, in Fogey Terms, a book-- that's one of those papery things with words printed on it where you have to turn the pages, in a time of history known as "B.K."-- Before Kindle"--

Anyway, if I'd brought one of those Kindle precursors to read at the dinner table as a kid?...

Man, that thing would have been whipped out of my hand so fast, I would have thought Superman was turning the Earth backwards on its axis again. (1978 Superman: The Movie reference. Non-fogies exempt from understanding this.)

When I was a kid, we had to sit there at the dinner table with the Old Fogeys, be bored to tears, and pretend to like it.

There was no disconnecting from the Mandatory Family Fun. Oh, sure, you still hated it. You'd rather have punctured your brain with a Crazy Straw through the ear. (Fogey Reference #2.) But hating it was a part of growing up, learning to behave, treating others with, dare I say, respect.

So you endured. You found other, more creative ways to entertain yourself. Like tying your straw wrapper into exotic shapes and lobbing them at your siblings. Or strategically planning how much of your vegetables you could smear around your plate to make it look like you'd actually eaten some of them.

But you certainly didn't openly block out your parents with, y'know, fun.

So I've found myself wondering what's going to happen to a generation who's been entertained every second of the day, every day. Kids who have never had the opportunity to be bored out of their well-pierced skulls, in order to be polite to other people.

Will they grow up happy, well-adjusted multi-taskers?

Or develop into those coworkers with the attention span of a fruit-fly on speed? Ones who stand up and shout, "Score!" at the high point of your company presentation because they finally racked up one-bazillion point on Mario Brothers 5000, now with Hologram Mushroom Action?

I don't know. But being a Fogey, I've now exhausted myself with the idea.

Time to go get my shawl and my 400 cats and make sure the LifeAlert machine's turned on, and have a nice nap. Later, I might crank up the Ford (Fogey Reference #3) and see about some more Chinese food.

That fried rice is a nice, easy chew on the dentures.



Melanie said...

I'm right there in fogey-land with you Jenn. Have my shawl on the knitting needles right now.

This generation of kids is a lost cause. No way can they grow up to be even remotely productive. They simply won't have time for it.

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- It's not their fault, really, because no one ever stopped them. But when a young coworker actually whipped out a video game player at our corporate holiday luncheon, and proceeded to play because we weren't interesting enough, I thought: "WOW. There might just be a problem ahead of us."

Anonymous said...

What you end up with is students who text their way through a class, even after repeated reprimands, and then want their C- grade changed, saying "I know my shyness kept me from speaking up in class..." as if NOT PAYING ATTENTION in class couldn't possibly have anything to to with what she earned.

Jenn Thorson said...

Rhet- Thanks for chiming in!! See, this is exactly what I suspected-- and I was wondering whether educators were actually trying to do anything about it (not that it's educators' faults-- or employers, for that matter). Or whether anything COULD be done about it.

Have you experienced the parents then coming in and complaining on the kid's behalf FOR said low grade?

Joel Klebanoff said...

I've told you this before--and don't make me tell you again, young lady--you are NOT an old fogey.

Speaking as a 57-year-old, I can, without any hesitation, say that you are a mere child. If you continue to insist on unjustly expropriating the old-fogey title, I'm going to have to come out there and give you a spanking, young lady.

That having been said, if you'd like someone to help you give a good paddling to the young whippersnappers who insist on ignoring what's going on around them in the real world in order to read or type a text message, I'm your man. I may be old, but I still have some fight left in me.

Jenn Thorson said...

Joel- (hangs head) Yes, sir... I hear you, sir... (passes a bowl) May I offer you a lead paint chip? They're delicious! :)

Joel Klebanoff said...

Jenn - Yum! Do you have any red paint chips left? They're the best and everyone I know goes for those first.

Anonymous said...

You had me at 'old and cranky'. I'm 39 and near the jumping off point of 40. And yes, I got all of your 'fogey' references. It was like reading a story about my own life. I always wonder what is going to happen to this new generation of kids. I remember the days when you could get detention after school for playing with a Rubik's cube in class.

A few years ago I worked with girl who was only one generation away from me and her attitude about life and her social interactions were vastly different from mine. If she didn't understand something or someone then she called it 'stupid'. "That's stupid. They're stupid." All day long in response to any interaction I had with her. She was sweet as pie, but dumb as a post when it came to the reality of life.

Today, she lives in Los Angeles and works in the cosmetics industry. I guess some people DO like to live in a constant fog. Probably their 'protection device'.

Anyway, great post. I thoroughly enjoy reading it!

lifeshighway said...

Pass the shawl this way or if you are a trendie old fogey, let me share your snuggie.

I remember when they started giving out crayons and paper at restaurants and I complained about that. So I know I have reach a much higher level of fogie-ness.

Plus... what about those DVD players in Mini-vans, good gracious the whole generation will indeed have the attention span of a gnat.

And movies these days, if something isn't blown up every 5 minutes, people are not entertained. I guess that is why I like to watch the oldies because they have this thing called "dialog".

ok, whew ranting is cleansing.

angelawd said...

I'm on the fence with the whole "generation of entertainment" thing. I don't know what will become of society when these texter/gamers are in charge, but as long as I can text someone to check my colostomy bag and change my sheets, I guess I'm OK.

Having raised a couple teens recently, I ask you to consider the mom point of view. It was always an internal struggle for me. They should be respectful, pleasant, and THERE at a family dinner, but seriously, who wants to interact with a sullen teen anyway? Dinner was much more enjoyable when we didn't have to endure eye-rolling, sighs, and rude monosyllabic responses.

However, all entertainment devices were banned from our table. We never even got up to answer the house phone during family time.

Jenn Thorson said...

Joel- Nope, sorry, you were right, they were the first to go. Always popular.

Corey- I've heard that "stupid" used in reference to stuff the person just doesn't get, too. Either learn it, or don't learn it, but IT remains static. :) I know a few from the same generation that have absolutely no problem admitting that they have no idea about something they really probably SHOULD know about. Like things directly related to the business they're in. "Oh, I have no idea about THAT." As if it's silly to even consider learning about it. I find that really frightening.

Life's Highway- I'm anti-Snuggie as it's really just a backwards robe. :) But I'll pass the quilt! Re; the short attention spans, I know that's an issue for blogging, too. Post have to be really sort to do well online. Unfortunately, I'm from the book generation.

Angela- Oh, I imagine we'll be at voice command messaging by the time you're that old-- fear not. :) And while I totally understand parents need a break from Teendom, they also need to remember they still are the parents.

You clearly set rules and goals for behavior. Some don't-- and it looks like it doesn't mean the kid's necessarily going to stop doing those things once they reach the workplace.

Unfinished Rambler said...

My gosh, you are old, no matter what Joel says (with all due deference to his Canadiannness). Personally, I wish I could afford all those fancy toys...I always wanted an iPhone to be able to do those things. I guess, call me young at heart. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Rambler Dude- But why do I think if you started playing some video game in the middle of dinner with Kim, a conversation with Lisa, or your job, you'd know very well you'd get a smackdown? :)

Melanie said...

Angela, as the mother of a couple teens and twenty somthings, I say, give me a sullen teen rather than a texter at the dinner table.

Actually, cell phones are prohibited at my table and anyone using one during the meal gets a good old fashioned slap up side of the head.

Malisa said...

My son and daughter-in-law were recently sitting at a table in a restaurant...both texting. The waiter approached them and said, "Have you noticed that families don't talk anymore?" They looked at each other, put their phones down and had a conversation. Good move, waiter!

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- And to think, you look like such a delicate flower in your avatar. :)

Malisa- I hope they tipped him well-- good man!

Mr. Knucklehead said...

Little by little, humans are becoming cyborgs. It's just a matter of time until these devices are fused into our bodies.

Leeuna said...

Hilarious post, Jen. My granddaughter was talking on the house phone and texting on her cell at the same time the other night. (at least I know she can multitask, though). I too worry for the future of these youngens.

{{pulling shawl tighter around shoulders and picking paint chips from teeth}}

Jenn Thorson said...

Knucklehead- You know-- I can almost see your South Park avatar with a little Borg headset. :)

Leeuna- Might need a waterpic for those paint chips-- they're sticky. :)

screwdestiny said...

Well, I guess at my ripe old age of 21, I too am a fogey.

Because I think it's fucking ridiculous that nobody has respect for others nowadays. That they do what you described, just texting while they should be *trying* to engage with the people around them. Hell, even my friends do it. I'll be talking to them and they're sitting their half-listening while answering some ever-important text. It's maddening. And don't even get me started on how young kids are getting cell phones now. I didn't have a cell phone until I was 18 and right about to move out on my own to the big city. Why do kids need one at the age of 11? So they can be rude to people around them and act like martyrs when they get it taken away?

As I'm sure you can tell, I hate texting, and I don't do it unless I feel I have to. But even more than that, I hate a good portion of my generation, and the ones slightly younger than me.

Jenn Thorson said...

ScrewDestiny- Hey, I much appreciate you chiming in, Young Fogey! Welcome to the ranks, we're glad to have you. You represent the shining hope of good manners and sarcasm for the future.

Also, you have the unique power of being able to flick the forehead of the friend who's only half-listening to you. :)

ReformingGeek said...

It is sad to see people disengage and focus on their technology. I'm concerned that this current generation of kids is so used to texting that they cannot write a concise paragraph to save their lives.

On the other hand, these kids have parents. Yeah, I'm old. I could have teenagers or young adult children and I'd like to think that if I did, that they would have more balance in their lives.

CatLadyLarew said...

If you're an old fogey, then I'm a decrepit mummy! (Except if I were a decrepit mummy for real, I'd be much thinner.) Without my son to teach me how to use all these new-fangled things, I'd be totally lost!

Jaffer said...

Hello Gramma Jenn !

Haven't read all the above comments - but my guess is that if that phone was snatched from the teen - she would have behaved like a 2 year old.

Oh what a sad future !

Anonymous said...

Great Blog! I'm right there with you. I'm so far behind on tech stuff that I'm sure my 2 yr old will have to teach me how to use things.
I couldn't get over how many people were playing with their phones at the movie theater (been a while since I seen a movie). They even show mini movies of stuff now while you wait for the movie to start. Like previews of T.V. shows.
I was highly annoyed once when a teen decided to use his cell before a movie was finshed to make a call. I didn't hear the last part of the movie since he was right behind me.
I worked with people who texted each other from across the same room. They could talk face to face but instead would sit and text on their phones to each other.
I look up websites just to figure out text lingo since I don't text. I didn't even know what lmao meant until I looked it up. I get sick of seeing lol all the time. I mean lol could stand for so many things and I find it so over used. It could be lots of luck, lots of love, lots of laughs or you could get silly and say lots of lemons, lots of lights or even little orange lights if you want to get creative. What is so hard with actually taking the time to write out lots of luck anyway?
I'm so bad I even refuse to use punctuation marks as smiley faces. I guess I'm really old school. But it really makes you wonder what is going to happen to this world.

jay said...

I'm going with the 'attention span of a fruit-fly' option. I mean, they're halfway there already!

I am an old fogey too, judging by the way I complain about things like the short-attention span magazines that pretend to be the same magazine I used to read when I was young, and tut-tut about the way young people dress today (skirts up to their backsides with leggings and sequinned shirts and earrings which rest on their shoulders and all) and the amount of perfume some 'career' women insist on plastering over themselves every day and the way stupid, inconsiderate, thoughtless people park on the footpath and let their car engines idle, gassing passers-by as they wait for whoever it is to come back out of the store.

Sorry. And I haven't even been out yet today!

angelawd said...

Jenn and Melanie, I completely agree that the parents should enforce rules - and I sure did. It's one little way that I increased the sullen factor at dinnertime. Plus, they eat more quickly when they want to get back to their electronics.

What I find even worse is the ADULTS who can't be respectful with their cell phones. I used to work a retail job and the folks couldn't hang up even to complete a transaction - and then got annoyed if I had to talk to them while they were on the phone. After a while, I would just wait until they noticed me standing there doing nothing, and then told them I'd ring them up when they weren't so busy. After all, I told them, I wanted to be polite during their phone call.

JD at I Do Things said...

quietly puts her poo-brown corduroy split skirt back in the closet

38???? Wait till you're 48. That Chinese food has to be food-processed.

(My mom found out what a Kindle was before I did. I didn't know whether to feel old or embarrassed or both.)