is it really irrelevant, or would you rather just avoid talking about it?
Very much agreed, but I was a bit bothered, in your earliest piece about the Hamas attack (I think from Monday two weeks ago) that you appeared to do something very similar to this when addressing hyper-progressive youth (in places like Harvard and Yale) praising the attack and dismissing it in "just a bunch of weird college kids" type phrases. I was bothered enough in fact that had comments not been closed, I would have mentioned it. I think the overall thesis of that article stands fine, including the point that praise of Hamas attack is outweighed by orders of magnitude by support for Israel coming from pretty much all of the most powerful countries and institutions. But I think it's reasonable to be troubled also at the trend of young people taking a pro-Palestinian stance in such black-and-white, "the Palestinians are the oppressed people of color so their government can do no wrong", "activist change is made my creating disruption through any means" terms that atrocities like what was done on October 7th are actually applauded: as you continue to point out, what starts as a trend among kids at elite universities can result in huge waves in our culture.
Students on campus have, since the beginning of time, had radical and frequently stupid / misguided views. Only in the last 6-10 years did the adults in the room hand students the keys to the castle and give them carte blanche to get people fired and suppress other viewpoints.
I guess my question is, what changed? Internet/Social media? The answer can’t just be Trump, since there was equal amounts of hatred for Bush in the 2000’s but the establishment didn’t abdicate their responsibilities then.
This "why do you even care?" response is also at the core of the intense pathology surrounding any attempt to discuss gender medicine. Activists, and a big chunk of journalists, think that writing on the topic is inherently illegitimate and aggressively attempt to police journalists who do so. So people like Jesse Singal get smeared as being motivated by some frustrated sexual desire for trans women, because if that wasn't his motivation, why would he even be interested in writing about controversies in gender-affirming medicine? And people like Emily Bazelon get smeared as closet TERFs, because if she wasn't, why would she even be interested in writing about parents who worry their kids aren't getting the right care? It's a profound breakdown in journalist, and liberal, culture.
Likewise "that isn't happening, and it's good that it is".
Another huge effect of this is the complete saturation of K-12 education with this stuff. It's fairly normal now that the walls of a public school are covered with stuff that makes it feel like an activist left coop house close to a college campus 15 years ago. The lingo, messaging, aesthetic etc is exactly the same. And universities obviously. It's pretty hard to argue that that's not a powerful position to occupy. Nobody would be saying it doesn't matter if Christians were powerful enough to make sure there's a cross in every room in a public school.
Kaighleigh lol 😂
The newest episode of South Park covered some of this "not noticing" stuff too. It's very odd that noticing an issue or incongruity can be taken as a strong identity signal/a signal of the beliefs of the noticer.
For people obsessed with "problematizing" works of the canon, they are very reluctant to have the problematizing brought to their doorstep.
Really good point about how the people who ought to be the elders in the room are shirking their roles. It's either because, as you said, they're afraid of being seen as the actual adults because it's a role to which they give no social value (when people are botoxing at 20, aging might as well be worse than HIV). They're absolutely petrified of going against younger people and losing, thus becoming all too aware that they're no longer young. It all reminds me of that pathetic NYT piece a couple of years ago about how Millennials in the workplace were desperately trying to learn the emojis and lingo of Gen Z. Hey, you're the goddamn boss; enforce YOUR standards and predilections!
Coincidentally, I also just recently wrote about how Millennials will age terribly: https://salieriredemption.substack.com/p/millennials-will-age-terribly
Sometime in 2018 I was telling my mom about all the out-of-control angry SJW stuff I was seeing, and her response was usually something like "But it's just online stuff. It's not real life."
And then 2020 happened. Oops.
If we simultaneously acknowledge that A: you're right and B: it matters, then we have to contend with the fact that C: we (as individuals) can't do anything about it - no one of us (particularly those of us without "platforms," without audiences to influence) can meaningfully change the paradigm. As you've pointed out, the social costs of opposing the cultural juggernaut you've identified here are ruinous. Human beings don't like feeling powerless in the face of destructive forces, so the tendency is simply to deny A or B.
In addition to trunk or treat, let's get a full list of horrible trends for kids/parents. I'll start with:
-pay to play travel sports teams
-smart phones to any kid before 9th grade
-the expectation to provide a gift bag for the kids at a bday party
-loud talk to a toddler/baby in public that is intended to be heard by other adults
Now that I co-signed the “elite college kids will also matter in the Israel-Hamas-Palestine debate” comment, I can move on to the question of “being the adult in the room”:
Becoming a parent really thrusts you into the particular topics you bring up (helicoptering; trunk or treat) and so many more. The whole approach by upper middle class parents is fucked, if you ask me. One thing that’s very telling is how children’s television has changed. “SEL” is now a version of “read the room”, when in my day, Sesame Street of the ‘70s, if someone hurt your feelings you spoke up for yourself and let them know; if you wanted to play with someone, it wasn’t on them to see you looking forlornly towards them, you ask if you can play! Instilling personal agency is so important!
My theory is that Henson and his merry band of Muppeteers (and Jon Stone, director during that era) kept an element of “this also needs to be entertaining to us”, and once they were gone, the “experts” sanded everything down (Snuffy is revealed; Cookie Monster eats healthy food; fuckin’ Elmo)
The spread of lite academic language is so weird to me, I can't stop seeing it. If you read an article in the paper about cooking or yoga or anything at all, it's no surprise to find someone talking about "centring" or "vital acts of memory" or "at once seen and unseen" or whatever. It seems a good point to suggest the power of this thinking to influence society, no matter how slowly or subtly.
I think there was an old Last Psychiatrist blog post with a line that went something like "You may not be interested in pop culture, but pop culture is interested in you." I think similar logic applies to the situations you are mentioning. Even if you genuinely didn't care or thought it to be irrelevant, these things still have widespread consequences. And I don't even think most of the people making that case even believe it's irrelevant, it's just an easy way to defend something they can't actually make convincing arguments to defend otherwise.
The Ivy League is basically just the finishing school for the US ruling class. The people there will be running the show outright in 10-20 years. Or as George Carlin once said "It's a big club and you ain't in it." Whatever proclivities the students have there (and of course, a lot of them don't stick long term) are of large consequence down the road. These are the people who will be running your life, so you better figure out what tune they'll be asking you to dance to when it's their turn at Total Request Live. It's also true to a lesser extent for every college, which is the sort of like the finishing school for the middle management of the ruling class in the US. These are the basic PMC types, a club in which I have to admit I am a member. Honesty is good I guess, we all exist within the same system, all the necessary disclaimers.
Mea culpa: I'm one of the ones who was saying "they'll grow out of it, the 'real world' will make them shape up" back in the day. Probably because I myself had dumb beliefs I had to grow out of in college.
I'm still trying to figure what, exactly, I got so completely wrong and how to not make a mistake again like that in the future. Obviously, don't underestimate the importance of college weirdness, but what greater blind spot does this represent? And is it really corrected, or just patched for this one case?
I had an argument about safe spaces about a decade ago. The argument presented to me was either "that's not really happening/its just college kids." My argument was the life is difficult, we will all experience loss, most of us will encounter violence and we can't hide from it. Guess who was right?