We're All Doomed: Old People Feel Young and Young People Feel Old

Written by

Ryan Broderick

In his weekly column, amateur futurist (read: paranoid alarmist with access to Wikipedia) Ryan Broderick will be dissecting the news of the week in an effort to prove that the world is probably going to end very soon and we’re all doomed.

I’ve felt old since I turned 19. I turn 22 next month and I feel like I’m about to disintegrate into dust. I blame my heightened sensitivity to age on the fact that I listened to too much emo in high school. I also blame the lousy economy, which has torn away any hope I had of becoming famous and doing lots of pills in nightclubs for a living. And now, the recently released “Mindset List” from Beloit College has got me fired up and feeling older than a pile of dinosaur bones.

I think the professor on the left with the bow tie is a very large cat in a man-suit.

The Mindset List chronicles the cultural shifts that incoming college freshman have lived through, but most importantly, it identifies the differences in perspective between each incoming generation.This year’s list has things on it like “They ‘swipe’ cards, not merchandise,” “Women have always been kissing women on television,” and “Music has always been available via free downloads.”

There’s also this neat little thing called Obsoleteskills.com, which is a running compendium of things that aren’t necessary anymore. They have some obvious ones like adjusting a clock’s pendulum, caulking your wagon to ford the river and formatting a floppy disk. But they have some other interesting ones, like calling a phone sex line, which is news to me that people don’t do anymore. I’m an avid fan of Lavalife, it’s the best place to meet sexy singles in my area.

All of these running lists of obsoletion do kind of point towards a very weird phenomenon: The cultural difference between generational gaps feels like it’s increasing, as the gaps between age decreases. Did you know that there are some 18-year-olds that never experienced scrambled porn or even know what it is? That was a seminal moment for me, trying to catch a nipple in fuzzed squiggles, like some kind of demented self-implemented Rorschach test of horniness. And we can probably blame these “microgenerations” on the singularity or internet TV; the fact that girls ride horses, sneakers that light up when you step on them and other scary things like that.

These shoes will be the end of us. They’re just too funky fresh.

A great example of “generational fatigue” is the completely legitimate and totally not stupid and made up thing known as the quarter-life crisis. It’s symptoms include:

  • Feeling “not good enough” because one can’t find a job that is at one’s academic/intellectual level
  • Frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
  • Confusion of identity
  • Insecurity regarding the near future
  • Insecurity regarding present accomplishments
  • Disappointment with one’s job
  • Nostalgia for university, college, or high school life
  • Financially-rooted stress
  • Loneliness
  • A sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you

And here I just thought those things were part of the regular, dusty old, human condition. The quarter life crisis is a relatively new concept, and one that has obvious roots in the angst of an industrialized world. But if sociologically we’re entering a post-industrialized world, as some people believe, what comes next? If we as a society enter into a post-post-industrialized world, or a post-post-post-industrialized world, or a post^2 industrialized world, does that mean that generational angst and social growing pains are going to start earlier or happen more frequently?

Are people going to feel existentially lost every five months or so as professions become more compartmentalized and fragmented? And to go even further with it. Think about how completely crazy baby-boomers seem. I personally think they’re a psychotic mess of faux-liberal lunatics that perfectly illustrate the ill-effects of what can happen when an entire generation of people come of age in the wake of cold war paranoia while dropping acid in fields. Hi mom and dad!

“Haha, so I was at this fossil fuel powered orgy with Newt Gingrich the other day and ended up spending all of my social security on handguns…”

Are we all doomed to be so selfish and insane? How many life crisis-related motorcycles am I going to need to buy in my lifetime? Will I need a quarter-life crisis boat? A third-life crisis fixer-upper home? A massive prosthetic midlife crisis penis implant? And an even better question is, with all this angst forcing me to quit my job every 6 months and find a new girlfriend, how will I have time to make the money I need to spend like a foolish bastard as I fight helplessly against the crushing melancholy of existence?

Possible Future Ein

Life crisises are looked back on as a growing pain of the industrialized world and as we enter a technologically-driven society, we collectively find an inner peace that ends up putting Harley Davidson out of business and secretaries suddenly stop getting gifts from bosses at work.

Possible Future Zwei

Aging angst ramps up exponentially as technology forces society to become more and more tiered. The differences between people aged months apart from each other are incalculable to the point where slang has become gibberish and no one can understand each other unless they were born on the same day. Young people become sadder and more beaten down while older people become crazier and more decadent. The average age for a member of a decent pop punk band rises from 24 to 44. Thought Catalog becomes the highest trafficed website/TV station/Moon projection in the world. Jason Gordon-Levitt becomes president and Brad Pitt runs some kind of octogenarian pornodome that eventually congress has to firebomb.

Previously on We’re All Doomed:
The Economy’s Not Getting Better, We’re All Going To Starve

Topics: life, technology-and-philosophy, retro-futures, brains

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