Growing Up 02/24/21

Imagine this: you’re a 34-year-old man, and you walk into a party of 18-year-old kids. You listen in on their conversations. You get progressively angrier about what these kids are saying, and then you begin shouting in the middle of the party, explaining to everyone why they’re so wrong, why the things they care about are so stupid, and on and on and on.

That’s social media.

Twitter, of course, is not just 18-year-old kids, or just 34-year-old, or just 56-year-olds. And therein lies the problem.

We have age-based social boundaries for a reason. It’s considered not a little creepy for an older person to be chatting up a significantly younger person, and I’d have to guess that the reason for that is deep down, we realize that those younger people have different brains than older people.

Young folks are the drivers of culture, not just because they will very soon be the key consumer demographic, but because for as long as there have been “civilizations,” there are people who have drunk the blood of the young to maintain some sense of vitality.

When you translate that to Twitter, what you end up with is an embarrassing amount of grown-ass people giving a shit about things that they should not care about. Not things that aren’t important, because that’s relative, but things that are strictly in the domain of the young.

In high school, you care very much about who said what to who, who is in a particular in-group or not, where the next party is, who has beer, etc. This attitude continues into college, where you start to get a little responsibility. Now you care about all the former things, but you also have to get to class or your job on time. Or both.

You also have grand ideas about how to change the world. That’s because you have no idea how the world actually works. You don’t understand the systems of power at play, you don’t understand money, you don’t understand people. It’s an endearing quality, and it’s necessary to becoming a full-fledged adult, and even sometimes, yes, changing the world.

And then, ideally, you reach something called adulthood. And when you do that, you pick yourself up off the puddle of vomit you passed out in the night before, and you realize that you have to make the next forty to fifty years you’ve got left mean something.

You realize how power works, you realize that you don’t want to spend forever screaming into a void, and you realize that the best way to make a difference is to get small. Those people who you’d scoff at as you prepared your protest sign, the kind of people who do small things like pick up litter or teach at a prison or take care of their families, those people who do seemingly insignificant things, those are the people who have it all figured out.

They control their lives, their direct sphere of influence. They give not a shit that some dope they’ve never met said a totally uncool word. And they leave power up to those who have it, or want it.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than grown adults arguing with children about whether or not some lady should be on the spaceman show because she made fun of pronouns. The only proper response to that shit is “who got fired from what?”

You also really shouldn’t care about whatever dumb thing some kid says on TikTok or whatever. I am guilty of this.

Jay Springett says that “your attention is sovereign.” I think that’s inspiring. I think that we get up every day and get roped into giving a shit about what’s going on in a literal high school, or what’s going on at levels of government we are powerless to affect.

I think that I want to live a small, humble life where I’m able to make art, take care of my family, and help my community in small ways. There’s no place for getting sucked into internet drama in any of those three things.

Otherwise we all end up like that Steve Buscemi meme, saying hello to the fellow kids, asking “who said what to whom???”

Don’t be embarrassing. Live life.

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