I got a notification from GoodReads the other day. It was an update letting me know that one of the authors I had tagged—George R.R. Martin in this case—had new blog posts I might like. Here, let me show you what I saw:
Talk about accidental poignancy! Two unrelated blog posts listed in reverse order, and they say, “Life Is…Getting Older.”
Boy, truer words were ne’er spake.
Then last night, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. During that chat, she asked me if I thought it was true that we undergo major transformations every ten years, or so.
She added, “Do you think you are a different person today than you were in your 30s [and then again in] your 20s?”
Oh, hell yeah. I can’t speak to what it’s like for people in the 50s, 60s, 70s, or older, but I definitely feel like I am a different person than I was 10 and 20 years ago.
For instance, in my 20s, I was an idiot. Today, I’m still an idiot, but I’ve gotten smart enough to know that I’m an idiot. In my 20s, I didn’t know that. I thought I was awesome.
Another friend of mine in my age bracket was recently telling me about how he’s involved in a musical project with a mixed group of people, some of whom are in their 20s. He wrote one of these younger ones a message on Facebook complimenting them on something particularly well done in their music project.
This person wrote him back asking if he was being sarcastic. When he protested to the contrary, this young person commented that they weren’t used to people saying what they actually meant.
I’d brush that off as an outlier, but my friend said it’s happened a couple of different times, and I confess I’ve encountered similar reactions myself.
Still another friend—and isn’t it fascinating how these things can bunch up sometimes?—was telling me today about a bunch of 20-something Internet poker wiz kids who were commenting over at Two Plus Two about this old Abbott & Costello gag wasn’t funny.
From Buck Privates – 1941
The punch line of the gag is up front:
ABBOTT: Do me a favour, loan me 50 dollars.
COSTELLO: I can’t, I can’t lend you 50 dollars.
ABBOTT: Yes, you can.
COSTELLO: No, I can’t. All I’ve got is 40 dollars.
ABBOTT: All right, give me the 40 dollars, and you owe me 10.
Come on! That’s hysterical stuff, and I was born 25 years after that movie was released. My buddy is a few years younger than me, and he thinks it’s hilarious, but those 20-something Internet poker wiz kids think it’s idiotic.
I suspect that when they’re in their 40s, they’ll look back and realize they were the idiots, which is extra amusing to me considering how smart so many of them really are.
Perhaps this just goes to show that those changes that we seem to undergo every ten years are true for culture as a whole, like some sort of generational fractal.
This reminds me of a guest editorial on NPR. It was maybe 8-10 years ago, and this woman was going on about how the rap music was worthless. It was all misogamy and sexism and violence and no values, and it was just crap.
I was rolling my eyes at this point, with a sneer of contempt warping my face into convulsions, but then she actually had the myopia to say, and I quote:
“Oh sure, my parents said the same thing about my music when I was a kid, but that was different because my music was good.”
That sent me into a frothing, apoplectic rage that some of my friends can still hear echoing in their ears today. I mean, seriously. If it had been a piece of cultural satire, it would have been hysterical, but it wasn’t. It was just one woman too blind to see that she had become her parents.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried my best to remember this woman and to understand that things change, that values and interests are neither static nor objective.
Clearly I don’t always succeed—I don’t see how anyone could—but I try.
Yep, life is…getting older. Thanks for pointing it out to me, Mr. Martin.
Related: Get off my lawn.