Contemplations on the Sapling of Woe
Is.3.1For behold the sovereign Lord of hosts shall take away from Jerusalem, and from Juda the valiant and the strong, the whole strength of bread, and the whole strength of water.
2The strong man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet and the cunning man, and the ancient.
3The captain over fifty, and the honourable in countenance, and the counsellor, and the architect, and the skilful in eloquent speech.
4*And I will give children to be their princes, and the effeminate shall rule over them.*
A related effect is that adults aren't even always wiser, or rather the world changes so fast that their wisdom is no longer applicable. A well-known example is the old wisdom "go to college to get a good job", which used to be good advise but no longer is.
"To the extent that fast-changing technology is built on older technology, but can be used without understanding of the older technology, then youth will appear to be competent but will not be able to sustain the civilization they have inherited."
In addition, the number of Gen Z who will prefer to ask on Discord / WhatsApp / etc "what is X?" (where X is something you can easily find out online) rather than just googling it is absurd.
On the subject of rapid technological change, I do wonder if this will is going to impact people, either by delaying the end of neuroplasticity in millennials & zoomers, or in making them just more culturally open to changing trends.
Besides rapid technological changes, I think there are a few other trends that relate to the idealisation of youth:
> The boomers & their "[my age] is the new [decades younger]" attitude.
> Totalitarianism, which very often idolised the youth who overthrows the old regime etc etc. The young are full of fire and energy - and generally lacking in wisdom - and in the glorious new Year Zero regime that's just what you want for your stormtroopers, literal or metaphorical. Wise or small-c conservative people (which people tend to get with age) do not make good vanguards of the Party.
> The sustained campaign to reduce the minimum age at which children can engage in or consent to things normally only restricted to adults.
Regarding the fuddy-duddy factor, it's more than an issue of neuro plasticity; it's a matter of already having an adequate skill with the previous technology. Many changes are not improvements; they are just fashion. And even when they are improvements, the marginal gain of using the new tech is small if you have mastered the old.
For example, the QWERTY keyboard is a horrible layout, but I have mastered it. If someone were to come out with a better layout, it would make sense for a young person to use the new layout, but it would also make sense for me to stick to QWERTY as I took a year long class mastering it in high school, and have used it ever sense.
I am writing this reply on a Windows 7 machine. Having to relearn how to use an operating system is a waste of time. The marginal improvements in Windows X (a weak implementation of virtual screens is the only one I know of) do not justify the bother of learning where all the controls moved to.
Likewise, I actually read the paper manuals for Microsoft Word back in 95. Microsoft has since shitcanned that knowledge by hiding templates and moving the controls all over the place. So I now use LibreOffice as its interface is more stable.
And I may yet take the plunge and go all Linux, as I have been using it part of the time since I installed it on a first generation Pentium using 70 floppy disks. While the location of the X11 files seems to change with every release, I can generally make Linux do what UNIX did in the 80s.
I will learn a new tool when I can *add* it to my toolset.
Agreed: a tutor/mentor/aprenticeship model is the way to go. Note that tutors can change depending on what the student is "into" over the years.
Another well-documented aspect is that totalitarians and revolutionaries have always tried to separate the youth from the elders. Sometimes literally (taking children from their families, enlist youth in ideological orgs where they are set straight etc.) but first and foremost spiritually/mentally. The youth lacks the wisdom and life experience to see through radical ideas and radical change, plus the oldsters might have memories of a better, pre-revolutionary time, so the youth must be convinced that the oldsters are stupid and shouldn't be listened to.
This is btw why I often have a problem with mindless boomer bashing. Sure, many deserve it, but the danger is always that too much youthful enthousiasm leads to ideas gaining the upper hand that are disconnected from real life wisdom and good old boring common sense.
I believe Alvin Toffler wrote on these things in his book Future Shock. But my memory is fuzzy on this as I read it around 40 years ago. This subject was definitely active when I was a child and the early boomers were revolting.
Two other drivers besides rapidly changing technology:
1. Advertisers target the youth heavily as that's when brand loyalty is formed. "You're the Pepsi Generation!"
1b. As a side effect, the free entertainment industry aimed ever more programming at teenage/young adult audiences in order to please advertisers.
2. Political factions target youth for the same reasons advertisers. And totalitarian ideologues go that extra mile to teach the young to dishonor their parents or worse. Both the Nazis and the Commies loved their youth organizations.
I really like your suggestions for internships and getting children/teens to see their parents in work mode.
I'd like to see more engineering vs. pure science taught in the public schools. The young need to appreciate how many layers of technology are required to support our civilization. Perhaps as a substitute for scouting, with its camping trips, how about a Young Survivalist Club? Instead of pretending to be an army scout, members pretend that they are rebuilding civilization from scratch.
As a retired educator who spent 40 years in the classroom, my experience has taught me that this phenomenon has been not only happening due to our technological advancements, but also because I witnessed each new generation of parents become less involved in their child's education until an unusual circumstance, like the pandemic we just went through, provided them with a window into the kind of content their child was learning. Those parents who were shocked at discovering this through their child's distance learning experience realized action needed to be taken in correcting the situation if what the discovered didn't align with their values. Then too, education in the public sector has gradually been shifting to a focus on being a surrogate parent, mostly for the lower income families, or single parent families, who had little time to actually parent their child(ren). I also personally believe that the rise in crime - gang activities, looting of stores, vehicle thefts, etc. - in urban centers of our country has been a result of the phenomenon being described in this latest post. There clearly is less respect for their elders by a growing number of youth today.
Nice post. I think you're right that competence or lack thereof in the face of rapidly changing technologies is part of the answer, but there are other parts: (1) the egalitarian ratchet effect (https://neofeudalreview.substack.com/p/the-egalitarian-ratchet-effect-why ) requires ever-increasing levels of wokeness, and younger generations with more pliable minds are much more likely to imbibe the latest levels required, leaving older generations "behind the times"; (2) youthfulness is immaturity and ignorance, and globohomo wants to keep its population in this state as long as possible, ideally past childbearing years so TFR among whites continues to collapse; and (3) advancing levels of technology requires much fewer and fewer people to keep society functioning (well, in theory), so we have an ever-increasing more or less paper-shuffling, idle, over-educated class that doesn't have an impact on the real world, which furthers this sense of immaturity.
I agree with you that people working with their hands, avoiding indoctrination through formal education, and getting an apprenticeship is the best way toward maturity and past the idealization of youth...
Really interesting and insightful analysis! Especially the phenomenon you observed of older adult leaders actually being less competent due to their failure to understand new and important technologies. We can add that to the list of things causing incompetence, such as the "Peter Principle" and DEI mandates, to explain the dysfunction in so many of our institutions. Great post with a lot of good food for thought!
How was the Mao Cultural revolution carried out? The youth were taught that the Four Olds were the obstacle to the new utopian society. Old habits, old ideas, old customs, old culture. The youth were turned loose on the old and physically attacked their parents as the problem.
Many Gen Z people have shockingly poor computer skills - touch screen phones and everything being an app have replaced the laptop or desktop.
I once taught a class of highschoolers for a project and they struggled to even log in to the learning platform we were using
Regarding the point made about "Elite Incompetence"... perhaps so. But that just makes the Demon summoning all the more inevitable. If one goes through the ATU (I.e. Aarne-Thmopson-Uther) index for Folklore, what classifies as "incompetence", lacking wisdom, etc is the precursor to attempts at summoning those Beings that can "more benevolently take charge of things". The Blacksmith and the Devil" which is ATU-330, is the quintessential tale about said sequence of events.
Relevant: "" In that case, let’s look at ATU 330, “The Smith and the Devil,” which seems to have originated in the Bronze Age about 6,000 years ago. The story is pretty straightforward: A blacksmith makes a pact with the devil (or Death, or a jinn, or another supernatural being), selling his soul in exchange for the power to weld any objects together. The blacksmith then uses his newfound power to weld the devil to a surface, forcing him to renege the soul part of the deal. ""
The last part of the story is incomplete (I would argue). The Demon will return... to collect that payment (with loads of interest of course) which he was owed in the original deal!
Syed Naquib al-Attas wrote about this at length in "Islam and Secularism". This was done some 40+ years ago. In particular, Chapter-4: "Islam: The Concept of Religion and the Foundations of Ethics and Morality" has a segment speaking about the young, the middle-aged and the old:
>>Consequently, they [i.e. the middle aged] look to youth with nostalgia and set high hopes that the youth may yet bring forth the longed for perfect model and exemplar in life for all society to emulate; and this attitude towards youth is the very core of the worship of Youth, which is one of the dominant features of Western Civilization since ancient times. The crisis of identity experienced by the middle-aged is somewhat similar to that experienced by the youth, with the exception that, for the middle-aged, the freedom to choose their destiny is increasingly limited, for time relentlessly moves on like a Greek tragedy to the very end. The old, in such a society, are mere creatures forgotten by society, because their very existence reminds the youth and the middle-aged of what they would be like which they want to forget. The old remind them of dissolution and death; the old have lost physical power and vitality; they have lost success; they have lost memory and their use and function in society; they have lost friend and family -- they have lost ***the future***. When a society bases its philosophy of life upon secular foundations and espouses materialistic values to live by, it inevitably follows that the meaning and value and quality of life of the individual citizen therein is interpreted and measured in terms of his position as a citizen; his occupation and use and working and earning power in relation to the state. When in old age, all this is gone, so likewise his identity -- which is in fact moulded by the secular role he plays -- is lost. The three generations that in such wise comprises Western society are forever engaged in search for identity and meaning of life; are forever moving in the vicious circle of unattainment; each generation dissatisfied with its own self-evolved values of life; each generation finding itself a misfit. And this condition, we maintain, is what we mean by injustice (i.e. "zulm").<<
Well put. I have heard related ideas here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSRHeXYDLko.
Another point of why the young (seemingly) don’t need the wisdom of the old is Google. For example, instead of asking one’s parents for advice on raising a child, many young parents today just Google their various concerns (thinking they’ll get the answers they need)
Call this an unfair generalization if you must, but old people are no good at everything.
Excellently done. I’m glad you decided to tackle this bizarre phenomenon of the “idealization of youth”—it is, of course, one of the most glaring indicators of the inversion of all natural and healthy values in our civilization. Or—perhaps better—“anti-civilization.”
Of course, that’s why traditional civilizations had their “senatus” or “gerousia,” the council of elders—only those loaded with wisdom and experience had any business guiding a society; youth can be courageous, passionate, self-confident, but it can also be impetuous, foolish, and can lead a society to ruin. We see this in our own societies: misgoverned by old fools who claim the mantle of wisdom and the privileges of old age, while employing grotesque plastic surgery techniques and anti-geriatrics in a vain attempt to restore some semblance of youth to their decaying flesh.