…or, rather, I’ve turned into Grandad. I would make some intellectual comment along the lines of “it must be a genetic disposition” or that “it’s learnt behaviour”, but the bottom line is that I’m turning into a miserable, moaning young lady. I’ve recently found myself moaning about teenagers, in particular. Ok, there is a ten year age difference between myself and some of the teens I’m whining about, but they are teenagers.
I was a teenager once. I was moody, miserable and a pain in the backside, like most other teenagers, but I don’t remember doing half as much as the teenagers that I see today doing. They have their own language, they wear so few clothes that they might as well not bother putting any on, they seem rude and lazy but yet want to reach for the sky and have it all. I see and hear it everywhere: on my commute to Oxford, when I’m shopping, when I’m driving around… Everywhere there are these teenagers. They feel like an alien species to me. Have we bred a new kind of teenager?
A few months ago I was on the train and a girl got on. Don’t get me wrong, I wore makeup as a teenager. A lot of teenagers that I know wear makeup. I even know a teenager who plasters the stuff on. Well, this girl got onto the train, sat opposite another commuter and I, got her makeup bag out and put her phone (on speaker phone) on the table. I watched her take makeup application to a whole new level and cover her spots, apply her undercoat, apply another coat, touch up more spots and paint on her liquid makeup – it was hard to believe that she was a GCSE student. It was only through conversation with the girl on the other end of the phone that I realised she was a student: with her skirt up her backside and her boobies flowing out the top of her shirt. But, I see this all the time. I see girls wearing shorts up their bums over the top of tights. These girls call it “fashion”, I call it “hypothermia waiting to happen”. It is chucking it down with rain and instead of doing something logical (because that isn’t in the teenagers vocabulary – no matter what generation of teens we look at) like wear a coat or take an umbrella, they complain that they are cold and wet. Yet, I sit there and think “I had a coat” and “I had a pack-a-mac” and “I had an umbrella”. So did most of my friends, 10-15 years ago. Maybe we are trying to breed a new generation of teenagers who are resilient to the elements? Maybe I really am getting old (like Grandad) and feeling the cold more than this generation who are coming along?
They moan more than I remember moaning. When I was a teenager (about 17) I had a job and did my own thing, but I rarely bitched to the world and his wife that I was tired. I don’t remember hearing my friends at the time complain about being tired. Nearly every teenager I come across now complains about being tired. “I’m so tired”, “you wouldn’t believe how tired I am” – yet, all the while, making plans to do things later in the evening. When I was a teenager, if I was tired, it was simple: I’d come home from work and go to bed. Even now, as an adult, if I’m tired, I go to bed – and I KNOW what tiredness is. When you suggest the “going to bed” concept to a teenager today they look at you as though you’ve asked them to join you in robbing a bank.
When they’re not moaning about being tired, they’re moaning about having no money (the older ones again). They “need” money. The teenagers I’m on about probably want for nothing. They “need” money but they don’t want to do anything to help them earn the money. In the world of a teenager they should do the same amount of work and yield a bigger pay cheque. In the world of a teenager a tree should pop up in their back garden which grows crisp £20 notes…
When they’re not moaning about being tired or skint they’re moaning about their “love life”. Yes, I was 17 once. I got “heart broken”. I got hurt. I won’t deny that those emotions exist to teenagers because they do. But they all want a bigger and better model. I listen to them and it feels as though they rarely have anything nice to say about their boy- or girlfriends. They don’t want a “boyfriend” or a “girlfriend” but a “man” or a “woman”. It begs the question: why are they still with their boy- or girlfriends if they’re constantly moaning about how much they get messed around? Then there are the teens that complain that they don’t have a boy- or girlfriend; as though to be someone’s “partner” (for a teenager, I use this world in it’s broadest sense) is some kind of a fashion trend – as though it’s the “in thing” – “everyone else has one so I should too”. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit older or a bit wiser, but it seems to me that these teenagers are too immature to be in a “relationship” to begin with – if they annoy you so much, dump them (“but I love him/her”…).
This generation of teenager are more ruder than my generation. Only tonight I was asking someone a question and as he was answering I had a teenager in my ear asking “what? who? what?” WAIT! Shut up and wait! They come in half way through and need to know everything that’s being said in case they’re missing out on something. I don’t remember my friends and I being like that. We said “excuse me” – but then, I was brought up to do so. If we wanted to get information out of a conversation which we weren’t a part of we listened. We didn’t butt in with “what? who are you talking about?”. Maybe I was just brought up in a different way to these kids?
And then, when they’re not at home or out getting drunk or working, they’re hanging around in intimating groups on street corners. They’re talking in their secret teenage language which requires a Google search to find out what they are saying. This doesn’t stop on the street corners though. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. It spills over onto social networking. There are millions of teenagers sitting in front of their computers, using Facebook, and they can’t even write properly. Watching their conversations on Facebook statuses is like watching monkeys learning to read and write. Everything has an acronym. If it isn’t being shortened down that way, “the” becomes “da”, “my” becomes “mai” (it’s not even shorter!), “really” becomes “reli”… I can understand shorthand – especially in messages when you’re on the go, where “you” becomes “u” and “thanks” becomes “thx”, etc… But to change entire words? On one of my 13-year-old sister’s Facebook comments there was a hyperlink for a Bing translation (!) for the evolved English vocabulary of today’s teenager.
But the ultimate test of me becoming Grandad came this evening. As I left Sainsburys I saw a group of lads huddled together and thought I bet they’re up to no good… As I thought it I felt a wave of despair shudder through me as I came to the realisation that I’ve become Grandad.