When I was a child we were forged in the crucible of playground violence. When you punched someone in the face for being a jerk, assault charges weren't filed against you. We are the last generation to have children's movies with people smoking, drinking, and saying things like “penis breath.” Was our innocence lost? I don't like the way our culture has evolved since I was a kid. It seems today as though every action has a disproportional consequence attached to it. The fear of public shaming has everyone trembling in their boots thanks to social media and the abundance of recording devices. People are afraid to offend anyone because they can be made a public spectacle of with such ease. I miss the days when the assholes of the world wore their distasteful personalities like a badge of honor. You still see them every once in a while but at this rate they will go the way of the dodo.
There is this pervasive wave of homogenization of behavior and outlook that scares the hell out of me. The most frightening part is that most people don't even question it, they just fall in line. My kids are only seven, but I know I have taught them the most valuable lesson they will ever learn: question everything. Diversity of ideas is paramount to the continued progress of any culture. People are entitled to their opinions and if you are offended by what someone says or how they act it is not your job to bring them down, simply look away. Just because you don't approve of something does not automatically deputize you to the decency police.
The people who try to make a big deal out of something someone else is doing annoy me more than the person they are trying to shut down. The other day I was on the subway with my kids and a group of men were talking loudly and spewing obscenities. It didn't bother me at all, I have already explained to my children what “bad” words are and the time and place in which they are appropriate. I could tell that it made people around me uncomfortable, but my kids didn't even seem to notice. Sensitivity to words and the fear of hurting someone's feelings have taken away our ability to say what we are thinking. Saying anything that might be slightly offensive can get you crucified. I admire the people who don't care about their public image.
The internet has allowed us to craft an artificial world, one we can use to customize how the real world perceives us. With social media any individual can create an image for themselves and in a way become their own publicist. Somewhere along the line it was unanimously decided that validation can only come from the approval of others. This showcase we create highlights all of our successes and achievements, bolstering our self worth to a point of an inflated ego. The more adulation we receive, the stronger the belief that we actually are as we have represented ourselves to be. So many people are building themselves an ivory tower, and I can't wait for them all to come crashing down. There is a saying, “you can't polish a turd.” Despite the fact that it has been proven that you can in fact polish a turd, the point is still valid. No matter how you dress it up, a piece of crap is still a piece of crap.
Now we shelter our kids from the things we don't want to face and in doing so we prevent them from the slow trickle of discovering the horrible truth about life. They discover everything all at once and it is hard to handle. Imagine you woke up one day and everything you ever knew was just the best of what the world had to offer. Once you saw the truth you could unravel. As a parent I feel the instinct to fix every sadness with kind words. Fight the urge. This soft-handed, light stepping new culture has resulted in a generation of overly sensitive kids with a wide range of problems that I am not entirely sure are real things.
To become a whole person you must experience both good and bad. I am resilient because I felt pain, alienation, and deep suffocating misery and I survived. My range of understanding comes from seeing both sides of the coin. Steel is forged by being beaten relentlessly with a hammer. Why should we think any different of the human spirit? Adversity feeds the desire to be great, pampering feeds nothing but hedonism and hubris. “I deserve to feel good” should not be the first thought that comes to mind when you wake up, it should be reserved for when you have actually done something to feel good about. Feeling accomplished is a privilege, not a right.