Monday, August 28, 2006

I May Be Dumb, But Young People Are Stupid

I'm really glad that I got my whole "being a teenager" thing over with before the Internet came along.

Not having my own TV station, radio show or newspaper column at the time, I managed to get through my adolescence and young adulthood without fully exposing my boneheaded young self's true idiocy to the world.

Instead, just like every other angsty teenager of my generation who no one understood, the damage was pretty much limited to paper journals, to be cringed over privately by our appropriately-chastened older selves.

Now, as an oldster, I'm not any smarter than I was when I was a young punk -- far from it. It's simply that I've been tempered (some might say beaten down) enough by experience to have a pretty good idea on when I should just shut up -- or at least not broadcast it to the world.

(Of course, this is not a perfect process; after all, as the saying goes, "Experience is a wonderful thing: It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.")

So, if the stupidity of people in general is everpresent and immutable, and the only thing holding us back from demonstrating this stupidity is experience, then it seems inevitable that young people, who by definition lack this experience, would be intent on showing us how stupid they really are.

Unfortunately for the youth of today, the Internet, and social media in particular, gives overheated idiot teenagers the means to do exactly this.

Recent examples of the willingness (really, the compulsion) to stand up on high and demonstrate this stupidity to the world include:

* YouTube video posters demonstrating in lemming-like fashion their commitment to the hip-hop-inspired fad of Ghost Riding the Whip

* Digg users very passionately trying to defend copyright infringement and not paying for music, as well as sputtering about Digg's own trademark defense, by being very loud and earnest with their incredibly self-serving and wildly incorrect notions of "fair use" -- then going apeshit when someone that they don't approve of uses their content, thus showing at least one justification for intellectual property rights.

This is not to say that copyright and trademark laws, as well as entire business models, won't have to be reworked in the face of digital media, or that old folks can't also be full of shit on these topics, but the cognitive gymnastics by these young content creators are wildly hypocritical and very, very funny.

* Teenage boys who use mass quantities of Axe & Tag Body Spray solely because they think that hot chicks will throw themselves at them. You know, just like in the TV commercials.

Fortunately, today's and tomorrow's idiot teenagers and other stupid young folk intent on trumpeting their foolishness to the world will be saved by scale -- as everyone posts and shares their passionately incoherent rants online, the sheer mass of available stupidity means that people will have to do something really, really dumb in order to get noticed, and just like with our paper journals, no one except yourself, your future constituents and employers and similar authorities, is really going to care.

One hopes, anyway.

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