“The world is getting to be such a dangerous place a man is lucky to get out of it alive.” W.C. Fields
THE WORRY GENERATION
Parents in the year 2011-going-on-2012 are probably the worryingest humans ever to have evolved.
We might blame TV crime dramas and the 24-hour news cycle for that. This holy land’s living room gibbons have seen so many kidnappings, murders, beatings, and rapes that they’ve begun to believe real life is chock-full of such thrills and chills.
This despite the fact that crime stats have been steadily decreasing in the last few decades. The evolutionary psychologist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker has written a bestseller entitled “The Better Angels of Our Nature” detailing how the human urge to eviscerate or otherwise express his emotions toward his neighbor has profoundly declined in the modern world.
Sure, sure, we have nuclear weapons and religious sects that want to slice our throats if we don’t agree with every single use of the comma in their book of tenets but, by and large, the casual one-on-one violence that characterized daily life as recently as the middle of the 20th Century is pretty much absent today in America.
In 1942, for instance, a man might disagree with the fellow next door over the relative merits of Plymouths versus Chevys. The discourse might become heated to the point that the Plymouth owner would, say, accuse the Chevy aficionado of having carnal knowledge of his mother.
The Chevy guy might at that point punch the Plymouth guy in the nose, causing the poor man to spend the rest of his life resembling a Picasso portrait.
Probably Had A Disagreement With His Neighbor
And that would pretty much be the end of it save for the eagerly repeated recounts of the encounter which would only peter out when the next such slugging occurred.
Today, of course, a citizen displacing his neighbor’s nose from the front of his face to the side would trigger a flood of squad cars, ambulances, and attorneys to descend upon the block in question.
If it happened in Bloomington, the incident might even make the inside pages of the Herald Times.
We are, by and large, a more civilized people.
Anyway, parents today won’t let their kids do much of anything on their own for fear they’ll be forced into sexual slavery. The world, Ma and Pa America believe, is more dangerous than it’s ever been.
So imagine how the parents of Oakland City, Indiana are reacting to the discovery of a meth lab in the janitor’s closet at the town’s high school.
They’re meeting today with the school’s principal and the town’s chief of police to talk the whole thing over. You know — as much as you know the sun will rise in the east tomorrow — there are now dozens of Oakland City parents who are convinced the nation’s high schools are all housing meth labs.
Even though there’s no evidence the janitor wanted in connection with the discovery had peddled his product to the kids. Nor is there evidence his closet was really a lab at all — the police chief says it appears a small amount of meth was made a single time there.
Parents worry. Always have. But never before the way they do now.
Remember “rainbow parties”? Oprah — who else? — had an episode once during which it was revealed teens were throwing get-togethers wherein the girls all put on different shades of lipstick and proceeded to blow all the boys in attendance — the “rainbow” signifying the lipstick spectrum each boy’s junk was adorned with after the party was over.
Next thing you know, every parent in the land was convinced every Friday night party their precious daughters and lucky-dog sons were going to were really fellatio orgies.
Only there never had been any such things as rainbow parties. They were a figment of novelist Paul Ruditis’s imagination (and they never even occurred in his book, “Rainbow Party“!)
Or how about the Florida police chief who revealed to a startled republic that our sons and daughters were now all doing jenkem, a largely mythical hallucinogen made from fermented human sewage. The DEA and the mainstream media jumped on that bandwagon, warning of the dangers of sniffing hot shit.
Fox News (Who Else?) Reports On The Jenkem Epidemic
And parents ate it up, natch. Until the jenkem rage was discovered to be a hoax.
Maybe today’s parents need the adrenaline high of worry and fear. Maybe it’s a replacement for the high they used to get from the substances they did before they became parents.
Or, as I alluded to earlier, maybe it’s simply the blurred line between fiction and reality that corporate media has created.
Whatever, every kid seems to have helicopter parents now. And I thought my generation had a lot of parental baggage to shed on the analyst’s couch. The poor kids of today are going to be gulping anti-depressants like M&Ms over the next few decades.
Man, I’m glad I never became a parent.
Especially when I or The Loved One might be viewed in the following light by the husband or wife of our thankfully non-existent kid: