I want to say, right out of the gates here, that the above graphic is not indicative of my attitudes. I see this meme, or a variation of it, on Facebook, and usually it inspires a laugh. Not a laugh at the ten year old children that are the target of it, but at the people posting it. Most, no, pretty much all, of the people spreading this are guilty of selective memory.
When I was ten, keeping in mind that this was during the Reagan administration, we had the Atari 2600. A few years after that we were blessed with the 5200, which was light years ahead of its predecessor. By the time I graduated from high school we had the Sega Genesis. The majority of the people sharing this cute, little admonishment to the younger generation are roughly ten years younger than me. They started with the Sega Genesis and ended with the Playstation, and they enjoyed, as I did my 2600, the holy heck out of them.
I understand that this is mostly meant to be silly, but it is silly in a mean-spirited, ageist sort of way. Amanda Marcotte recently posted a great column about “fogeyism.” Every generation seems to be guilty of it. She cites the old folks’ hatred of rock and roll in the fifties. She also puts a bit of this on jealousy of the physical advantages of youth, notably that they are younger, softer (or harder for men) and slimmer than we.
I think there is a little materialistic envy going on here too. How dare these kids have cooler toys than we had? It’s not fair that these Gen Xers have the Atari, we played outside. It’s not fair that these Baby Boomers have television, we played outside. It’s not fair that these (what the hell do you call Depression Era kids without kissing their asses) have radio, we played outside. I say this, because I watch my cousins, friends, and acquaintances, and they love the holy heck out of their kids’ toys too. I don’t see any thirty year old males who don’t occasionally lose an afternoon playing Halo, Skyrim or Madden. Women who lose an entire afternoon on Facebook or Bejewelled Blitz are fairly common as well.
Some folks will claim concern (ahhhh the concern troll, the cutest and most noxious of that phylum) about the obesity epidemic. It’s true, Americans in general are bigger than we ought to be. It’s not just the kids though. I’m overweight and a lot of people my age are bigger than I am. I chalk it up to diet, and yes, not enough exercise. Blaming it on the toys however is silly. You want your kid to be more active, than give them the options, and you cut down on your kids consumption of their electronic distractions. My nephew has his X-Box 360 and you can bet my brother makes sure he still gets out and play. Hell, he doesn’t have to, the boy is thirteen and loves to go out and shoot hoops with his friends, or play in the woods nearby. Most kids relish the chance to get out and play.
Hey, I know it sucks getting older. I too look at all these cool gadgets and wish we had them. Then I remember we had great games like Dark Tower, Risk or Statis Pro Football. We had our distractions, and we still got out to play. We still had our fun, now let’s let the kids have theirs.