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Marissa Lingen

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If you can deal with the snow and the dog, get on my lawn. [Apr. 17th, 2014|09:11 am]
Marissa Lingen
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Kids these days: they are pretty great and you should buy them an ice cream (sorbet if they don’t do dairy).

Nobody ever sells articles that say this, despite it being true–or at least as much true as a percentage as it ever was–and look, here’s another article, this one from Slate, about how horribly broken the youth of today are, especially compared to my day, which was filled with whimsy and wonder, which, as we all know, is way better than fun and excitement. Sorry, kids, that was a quote from when the Simpsons was a TV show instead of a shambling corpse. Sorry, kids, that was an attempt to slam the Simpsons from before zombies were cool. I’m all better now. Point is: back in my day, we had whimsy and wonder and fun and excitement, although of course not as much as in the Baby Boomers’ day, because they invented all those things. Unless you ask the Lost Generation, in which case, hoo! look out Emperor Nero! And so on until you get back to Hesiod, and let’s face it, nobody had a Back In My Day like that dude.

I’m wandering, aren’t I? It happens with age. Especially Hesiod’s age. Aaaanyway.

Point being: this Slate author Rebecca Schuman teaches college students sometimes, and they do not invite her to join in their reindeer games, which proves that no college students have any reindeer games, due to them sucking, but even that is not because of them because young people have no agency ever (LIKE DUH, keep up), it’s because of us because we ruined them (POSSIBLY PERMANENTLY) with our helicoptering. Also, a survey of what people think are the “weirdest schools” is a totally accurate way to find out what weirdness people are having in their own personal schools and free time and stuff. Because, like, college students in Arizona, if surveyed, will know about my college-age friend’s shenanigans in Massachusetts. They are that epic. Oh, the shenanigans she has. They shenan, and then they go back and….

Sorry, right, the point is: I am friends with actual college students. Not, like, tons of them. But some. Enough to know that sensawunda, as we call it with solemn respect in the science fiction and fantasy writing genres, is alive in their lives. Even if they do not display it on command to random people who teach their classes. You can picture it: “Do you, like, have parties where the admission is a can of moss?” she demands eagerly. “Uh, nooooo,” say her students, thinking, oh God, let me get away from this crazy professor, I have to finish my paper so that I can figure out how to get the layers in my hair dye the way I want them before we yarn-bomb the quad.

“Someone’s got to help these damn kids today goof off more creatively,” she says, and I say: sit the hell down, Rebecca Schuman. The last thing “these damn kids today” need is another intervention from you. They are fine. They are doing their own thing. It is not your thing. Has help with whimsy ever actually helped? Ever? Back. Off.

Oh, and also? I once snapped at a Boomer age friend, “Just because college cost $5 when you went doesn’t mean it does now,” and guess what? The incredibly expensive college costs from when I was in college? That swamped people my age in student loans? Are starting to look like $5 compared to what these damn kids today are paying. So if you’re feeling like these damn kids today are just not doing enough goofing off, maybe hovering over them with narrow notions of whimsy is completely unhelpful, and maybe you should kick in for a scholarship for one of them or buy one dinner so that they have five minutes in which to goof off. Or pay them to do some chores for you or something. Because a lot of the stress you’re seeing is because they are trying to WORK while doing ALL THE CLASSES so that they are not still in debt to the student loan folks when they have to start paying for nursing home care. But yelling at them that they are not doing a good enough job at fitting in their REQUIRED WONDERMENT with their work and classes is not what we in realityland call helpful.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-04-17 03:49 pm (UTC)
That certainly seems like a fair assessment for a fair number of the students she's seeing. I wish that she'd done the thoughtful analysis you've done on it, rather than jumping to millennial-bashing.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-04-17 05:14 pm (UTC)
The other thing is: I have very distinct memories of a conversation with one of my profs, after an older friend from the same department graduated, in which it became clear that my concept of Older Friend as having "crazy schemes" attached to his name as an obvious concept, was not at all the prof's concept. Despite the prof being a young, cool prof with sympathy for the said crazy schemes. Despite the friend not being what I would call subtle about his crazy schemes. And what I learned from that at the time is that sometimes we compartmentalize even when we're not conscious of doing it. I honestly don't think my friend spent his four years in that department thinking, "I'll make sure I keep my crazy scheme tendencies a secret from Paul!" But it happened that way anyway.

And add to that the risk aversion tendencies discussed, and I think you've got a very strong case that Schuman will be the last one to know.
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[User Picture]From: sprrwhwk
2014-04-18 05:22 am (UTC)
Yeah, this. Even a decade ago, we felt more secure -- I had the great misfortune to escape school in 2008, ie. right as the economy came crashing down, again. The undergrads I interact with these days know they have a bad hand but are playing it for everything it's worth because what the fuck else are they going to do?

All I can do is donate to student aid at my alma mater, pay my taxes, and take on interns as my job allows. (I have my first intern, this summer, and I am looking forward to the experience -- I expect it to be a learning experience for us both. :-)
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