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What’s up with old people and knowing things?

Updated on July 11, 2018

I’m not one to engage in ageism, I’ve watched Up and like everyone who has a heart and a pulse I too cried.

Still my reckless and inexperienced mind can’t help but to jump to conclusions whenever an older person gives me the business for not knowing the name of a dead author who wrote a book they really, really liked.

I’m not that ashamed by my lack of general knowledge in the same way one isn’t that ashamed of the huge herpes sore haunting one’s dick, it’s mildly itchy at times but it only gets really uncomfortable when someone points it out in public.

Recently a Journalist made sure to declare I was about as intelligent as a lobotomized sea-monkey for failing to name a specific artist from the past century. I do understand one must take pride in their knowledge but I can’t help to feel that pride is mostly misplaced when my ability to do a quick google search renders that ability moot.

The art wasn’t even that good if you ask me. I could skip a 5 dollar bill across twitter and 20 artists would be able to do a commission the same exact same thing. Granted I’m not an art expert, maybe because my millennial brain can’t possibly grasp anything that doesn’t react when I tap it or maybe because all art is up to interpretation, which is honestly what a story teller does when they’re unsure and/or lazy, whichever, to the end to their stories. It feels to me like artists are telling me to do the job for them by giving meaning to the spots of bright colors they shat on a canvas after douching their anus with acrylic paint. But I digress, maybe this is why older people feel my intelligence could be compared to that of a wet towel or maybe it’s because art is a complex world composed of different lines of thought and concepts and I’m fully justifiable for not knowing the name of every semi-relevant artist for the past 100 years without having my intelligence insulted.

Honestly I was never one to decorate names or dates, I never understood how that could help me become a more intelligent human or what use that knowledge would hold for me in the long run. I respect those who do, of course, but I’d respect them harder if they didn’t gawk at me whenever I mispronounce the Norwegian soldier’s name that wrote an obscure book about cow milking in the late 60's.

Older generations had different challenges and issues to deal with and seem unable to comprehend ours and how to deal with them. They are sure of only one thing: the way we’re doing it is wrong.

They seem to have memorized every name, place and date because they had to, it’s a skill born out of necessity. We, on the other hand, never really had this necessity because nearly every answer we need is in our pockets at all times. Our ability to memorize information correlates with how useful we think that information might be if we store it in our thinking-organs. I’m much more likely to remember which foot I need to use next to walk or which shirt has a funky smell I can’t get rid off than I am to memorize the name of Lincoln’s left ass cheek.

On my part, I do think I’m being unreasonably harsh with those above me in the age scale. I can still be impressed by their incredible knowledge and life experience, but I’m about as impressed in their ability to know the name of uneventful authors from Siberia as I am impressed by dolphins’ echolocation, it’s a remarkable skill but I don’t need it because I have eyes.

‘Haha’ laughs the dolphin ‘what will you do when you enter a dark place?’ He asks, smugly.

Turn a light on, you sad excuse for a mermaid.

I know it’s pretty hard to see from my perspective when you’ve settled yourself on top of that high horse, but maybe you could give it a try.

I feel like the older generation has unreasonable high expectations for the younger generation, which I understand, partly because they tend to see their past selves and their peers as much brighter than they actually were but also because we tend to expected a lot from the things we like and become disappointed when they don’t meet our ideals, like me, horror movies and the deception I feel when they fail to give me an heart attack.

Truth is, not just was the past a lot brighter it was also, paradoxically, much harder to live in. No grandparents can avoid to snark at their young for enjoying the small luxuries of the modern world:

“Taking the bus to school, ya wimp? When I was your age I had to walk 15 miles to school while avoiding serial rapists with rabid dogs that were on fire.”

“What? You’re using the internet to do your paperwork? In my time teachers wouldn’t accept any work that didn’t have us interview Isaac Newton’s dead body itself.”

Again, I understand there’s a certain sense of pride from surviving the harsher times of yesteryear, but shouldn’t we be happy that our children get to safely live their lives instead of being sold to human trafficking? But don’t frown too much, old people, I’m certain that in the near future we millennials will bark at our offspring for having three arms due to the nuclear waste ravaging the world, while we had to do everything with two!

What I’m trying to say is that this bickering about young people living in the modern world instead of faxing their selfies or having polio feels a bit petty and unjust. It is to be expected that older people would be wiser and have more knowledge of the world, just as it is expected that younger people will be more accepting of change. Give us a chance to grow before you try to declare us brain dead through your ability to recite every phone number in your contact list.

Old people seem specially concerned with our relationship with technology, fearing we become as proficient at surviving without it as a piece of stale bread in a pound full of ducks is proficient at not getting eaten. Like that time every car in the world stopped functioning and everyone regretted skipping leg day.

I personally enjoy the peculiar relationship between my grandparents and technology. Maybe because we yelled at them for that one time we left them alone on our desktop and they installed 30 different search bars on our browser, it seems they are conditioned to believe the Internet is the actual devil but still can’t help themselves to play another match of Candy Crush between the breaks of The Price is Right.

Overall, I can’t help but to feel there’s a bit of jealousy in the origin of all of this dispute. Old people might feel lost and confused with the way of the young ones, seeing them live in a odd world that they might even feel committed to understand but never really be a part of, because the moment they understand Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is revealed to be a vampire and a new thing called Instagram rolled around without them noticing.

I feel sympathetic with this struggle when I see a 10 years old child coding an entire social media outlet while I’m unable to program a game for tic-tac-toe without setting my computer on fire.

That being said, our ability to memorize things is probably weaker on average than it was a generation ago, but I don’t think that makes us less smart or adaptable.

“But, hey…” the dear reader interjects “I feel like this is a very specific problem in the grand scheme of generational feuds… Are you sure you didn’t write this just because your ego was bruised by some journalist implying your IQ is as impressive as my 8 year’s trophy rack filled with participation medals?”

Yes, dear reader, you’re right, but I won’t apologize for any of that.

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    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      23 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "huge herpes sore... it only gets really uncomfortable when someone points it out in public." - Well, I have never had herpes but from what I just read it is a little more serious than just being uncomfortable if someone points it out in public: "blisters and ulceration on external genitalia, in the vagina, or on the cervix ... burning or tingling around genitals before blisters appear".

      "It feels to me like artists are telling me to do the job for them by giving meaning to the spots of bright colors they shat on a canvas" - All Life experiences are filtered by each one of our perceptions. Our minds are constantly trying to categorize things, give meaning to things, compare things, etc. That's how our mind works, whether we look at an abstract painting, a cathedral, or a burger we are about to eat. So, You are constantly giving meaning to things.

      I like to give the example of a chair, in this situation (I have been here before, You see). The chair does not know it is a chair. If it could answer You to the question of: "What are You?", I doubt the chair would answer: "a chair". That is because we tend to go around in Life labelling things. The labels we give to things do not define the things in themselves, they are just labels describing our perception of those things. That is a very important destinction to make.

      "I’m fully justifiable for not knowing the name of every semi-relevant artist for the past 100 years without having my intelligence insulted" - I wouldn't worry about that too much. People will say whatever they wish. What matters is what You believe about yourself. Check the Ego at the coat-check and just trust yourself: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me".

      "Older generations had different challenges and issues to deal with and seem unable to comprehend ours and how to deal with them." - Each generation has its unique challanges. Each generation has its Leaders, its Hunters of Knowledge, its ups and its downs. Be who You are! That's all. Worry not about others. : )

      "We, on the other hand, never really had this necessity because nearly every answer we need is in our pockets at all times." - Very true, although I think it's good to hold some knowledge too and not have to rely constantly on Google. What if You're standed somewhere, or there's no electricity, or You lost your phone, or God knows what. Being dependant constantly on exterior sources may be time consuming and time is not always on our side. Just sayin' : )

      "than I am to memorize the name of Lincoln’s left ass cheek." - Hey, at least You know who Lincoln was! Bonus! lmao I'm just messing around but I'll tell You why it's good to know things. If You do not have a strong grip on general knowledge, You might lock yourself in your room and come out a few months later screaming: "I invented the wheel!!" Well, the wheel has already been invented. Of course, I exagerrated here but You get the point. We sort of need to know what others have done just so we do not repeat things for no reason.

      "Haha’ laughs the dolphin ‘what will you do when you enter a dark place?’ He asks, smugly.

      Turn a light on, you sad excuse for a mermaid." - Always depending on external sources ... it's a thin line to walk on Amigo. You may be pefectly fine your whole entire life but in case shit hits the fan You have to pray your Iphone is there with its flashlight. Yet, You can walk in the dark even in pitch black in the middle of the Forest. You just have to know how to go about it. I suppose You have to decide what bits of Knowledge are important for You, or not.

      "I know it’s pretty hard to see from my perspective when you’ve settled yourself on top of that high horse, but maybe you could give it a try." - That is more often than not the case because most people create bubbles around themselves. They do things that make them comfortable, they engage in things in which they feel safe, etc.

      Always put yourself in uncomfortable situations from time to time. It'll make You extremely resilient with time. I wish You all the best on this!

      "I feel like the older generation has unreasonable high expectations" - Never have expectations. Do your very best always and worry not about the rest. Actually since I got here, I should say that You should never worry either: "worry is the wrong use of imagination". Never worry, never have expectations.

      "Taking the bus to school, ya wimp? When I was your age I had to walk 15 miles to school while avoiding serial rapists with rabid dogs that were on fire.” - Haha!! Should have heard my grandma: "I used to wake up at four am and I would have to take the train an hour and a half to make it to the next town where I had my tewaching job. From the train station I still had to walk 45 minutes." She would eat a raw egg before running out of the house in the morning lmao That was her life though. I don't plan on eating raw eggs in the morning, I feel like I might die from vommitting lol (she did live until she was 96 though...).

      "I’m certain that in the near future we millennials will bark at our offspring" - Ya, don;t bark at the offspring. Watch the mistakes that You perceive that older people make and remeber them in the future. Be kind to all around You. By all, I mean all Living Beings, not just Humans.

      "Like that time every car in the world stopped functioning" - So, here in Toronto we had an ice-storm some years back. Luckily I have been hicking and camping in Mountains and Forests most of my life. The house turned as cold as outside in a couple of days and it felt like I was camping while bing in my own house in the city lol I pulled out my natural gas stove and was making breakfast on that.

      We also had the electrical grid shut down some summers back. It happened not only here in Toronto but in the State of New York too. Middle of the summer: no electicity ... so no cash registers were working, stores closed, etc. What was interesting to see at the corner store was that the owner brought out his old cash register. It looked like an ancient type-writer but I didn't care what he calculated things on as long as I could make a purchase when all other stores were closed. Never put all your eggs in one basket, moral of the story for me.

      "That being said, our ability to memorize things is probably weaker on average than it was a generation ago, but I don’t think that makes us less smart or adaptable." - I would say that memorizing things is not an amazing benefit. What You want to aim at is critical thinking. That waya, whatever situation You find yourself in, You will figure-out a way to keep going.

      Keep that Ego at bay and You'll be fine. I''ll leave You with a Bruce Lee quote:

      "“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

      I enjoyed your writing. All the best!

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