Ask your average 10-15 year old their opinion on pretty much anything, and nine times out of ten, the answer you will get is that it is either 'gay', 'boring', 'epically boring, 'epically gay', 'epically boringly gay', or 'an epic fail'.
Why is the English language being hijacked in such a fashion? I know when we were kids, we had our own words for things, superlatives mainly. Things were 'mega', 'crisp', 'juicy' or 'prime'. Not just super, not just great or excellent. We put our own spin on it. But at least we had opinions.
Today's kids only have two opinions, it seems. It's either gay or awesome.
When was it decided that the word sick meant great? I mean, am I just getting to be an old fogey or are "De Yout's of Today" (to quote Musical Youth) just talking gibberish?
It's OK. Each generation has its own way of talking. No-one says 'hep to the jive' anymore, no-one says things are 'swingin' or 'dodgy'. Back in the day, though, kids talked like that all the time. So that's fine. Have your own lingo.
But the word 'gay'... I have a major problem with that. Teens use the word 'gay' as a one-size-fits-all insult or put-down. Time was, 'gay' meant happy or pretty or jolly. Now it just means 'homosexual' and to most teens, it seems, that's an insult. Yet there are a lot of young gays out there, and there are gay organizations, too, so what do they think of the hijacking of this word? I can find nothing out there on the Interwebtubes about it. Plenty about the word gay changing from 'happy' to 'homosexual', but nothing about it being used as a blanket term of disdain. I would really love to know.
Trouble is, the whole damn world is just plain rude. No-one is taught to use the words please and thank you and excuse me and sorry anymore. The eff word is now a handy substitute, as in:
"I want THAT ONE!"
"You want that one, what??"
"I want that one, YOU EFFING B***H!"
Back when I was a little kid in infants school, parents and teachers were still allowed to use corporal punishment if necessary. Teachers were allowed to call us stupid ignorant twerps, regularly gave us kids a slap on the leg or the bottom, parents spanked their kids in public, and it was just the way things were.
Then some highly educated people decided that this was all wrong and we kids were suffering irreparable damage and psychological trauma from all of this butt-swatting and name-calling. Eventually laws were passed preventing people from disciplining or correcting errant behaviour in their children by the use of the hand or hand-held implement. On the whole, I support this. There are some terrible examples of abuse out there, and by all means it should be stopped. But how many of us were severely traumatized by a slap on the leg when we stepped out of line?
Trouble is, we went too far the other way, didn't we? And we committed the error of letting the kids know that there were laws preventing people from touching them inappropriately. Because they then figured, as kids are apt to do, that they could now control adults by crying abuse, much like Michael McDonald's character Stuart on MadTV: "Don't touch me, I don't know you! Stranger danger!"
Back when we were kiddiewinks we used manners as a social tool: we knew if you did or said the right thing, the correct thing, you'd get the reward, or at least be left alone. Today's kids have no concept of manners. To today's children, the video game generation, the reward is to be found, much like in the video games, by constantly digging around and searching the same area over and over again until a reward of some kind or another is finally revealed. Kids will just keep pushing and pushing the same buttons till the parent finally caves and rolls over.
Basically, the concept of manners as we 40-somethings understand it no longer has a place in today's world. Manners were a way of making sure that people were kept at arm's length, and a form of bluffing your way into unfamiliar situations. Now we are all online and social networking, making friends with people we've never met, and the same social issues do not arise. We do not have to pretend to be au fait with where the salad fork is, or know how to address a letter.
Manners ensured that we knew the value of imagining one's impact on other people. Nowadays, the famous Margaret Thatcher quote about there being no such thing as society has never rung more true. People have to virtually be bribed or cajoled into doing anything socially responsible. Case in point - the Keep Britain Tidy campaign from a few years ago...
I give up on this species. Epic fail.