Examples of adults complaining about the younger generation?
August 16, 2014 8:54 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to find examples (essays, articles, etc.) of previous generations complaining about the work ethic of the younger generation. It doesn't matter how far back it i
posted by cherrybounce to Human Relations (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Edit: "how far back it is."
posted by cherrybounce at 8:56 AM on August 16, 2014

Here's some to get you started.
posted by alex1965 at 9:06 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

- Attributed to Socrates by Plato

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint."

- Hesiod, 8th century BC
posted by Nightman at 9:47 AM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Regarding Young Actors

I am of Opinion, (reply'd Mr. Betterton) that the Decay of the Stage
is in great measure owing to the long Continuance of the War;
yet, I confess, I am afraid, that too much is deriv'd from the Defects of the
Stage it self. When I was a young Player under Sir William Davenant, we
were under a much better Discipline, we were obliged to make our Study our
Business, which our young Men do not think it their duty now to do; for they
now scarce ever mind a Word of their Parts but only at Rehearsals, and come
thither too often scarce recovered from their last Night's Debauch; when the
Mind is not very capable of considering so calmly and judiciously on what
they have to study, as to enter throughly into the Nature of the Part, or to
consider the Variation of the Voice, Looks, and Gestures, which should give
them their true Beauty, many of them thinking the making a Noise renders
them agreeable to the Audience, because a few of the Upper-Gallery clap the
loud Efforts of their Lungs, in which their Understanding has no share. They
think it a superfluous Trouble to study real Excellence, which might rob them
of what they fancy more, Midnight, or indeed whole Nights Debauches, and
a lazy Remissness in their Business.

Another Obstacle to the Improvement of our young Players, is, that when
they have not been admitted above a Month or two into the Company, tho
their Education and former Business were never so foreign to Acting, they
vainly imagine themselves Masters of that Art, which perfectly to attain,
requires a studious Application of a Man's whole Life. They take it there-
fore amiss to have the Author give them any Instruction; and tho
they know nothing of the Art of Poetry, will give their Censure, and neglect
or mind a Part as they think the Author and his Part deserves. Tho in this
they are led by Fancy as blind as Ignorance can make it; and so wandering with-
out any certain Rule of Judgment, generally favour the bad, and slight the good.
Whereas it has always been mine and Mrs. Barry's Practice to consult e'en the
most indifferent Poet in any Part we have thought fit to accept of...
The Life of Thomas Betterton, 1709
posted by stray at 9:48 AM on August 16, 2014

Succinct but: Youth is wasted on the young! ~ Oscar Wilde
posted by patheral at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

According to Wikiquote ("Youth nowadays"), the attribution of the Socrates quote is incorrect, and the Hesiod quote is of unknown origin.
posted by grouse at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is a bit off your track (and specifically about an American religious group to boot), but Chapter 11 of Michael Hicks' Mormonism and Music is all about how each generation thinks the next generation's type of music/dance is evil-evil-evil, than 20-30 years later that previously evil music is now the norm and the new type of music is evil--invariably described in almost exactly the same terms as the previously-evil-but-now-completely-accepted music was described a generation earlier.

So first round dancing (waltzes) is evil, later when jazz & ragtime come in, round dancing is acceptable while jazz is evil. Later yet, rock & roll is evil while swing dancing & jazz is AOK. Etc Etc Etc. for each generation. I found it amusing and along the same lines you are asking about, how each older generation thinks the current younger generation is all wrong-wrong-wrong on almost the same exact terms and for the same reasons generation after generation.

Book is here, search inside for 'rags to rock' to find Ch. 11 which is the main chapter dealing with this. You can also search for 'dance forth' to find Ch. 5, which also touches on the theme.
posted by flug at 10:42 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Myth of Ages of Man seems like the overarching meme for this, a decent from a higher and more perfect form of humanity to a more base and flawed; here from Hesiod's Works and Days in the seventh century BC but present also in many cultures and eras:
(ll. 109-120) First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.

(ll. 121-139) But after earth had covered this generation -- they are called pure spirits dwelling on the earth, and are kindly, delivering from harm, and guardians of mortal men; for they roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds, givers of wealth; for this royal right also they received; -- then they who dwell on Olympus made a second generation which was of silver and less noble by far. It was like the golden race neither in body nor in spirit. A child was brought up at his good mother's side an hundred years, an utter simpleton, playing childishly in his own home. But when they were full grown and were come to the full measure of their prime, they lived only a little time in sorrow because of their foolishness, for they could not keep from sinning and from wronging one another, nor would they serve the immortals, nor sacrifice on the holy altars of the blessed ones as it is right for men to do wherever they dwell. Then Zeus the son of Cronos was angry and put them away, because they would not give honour to the blessed gods who live on Olympus.

(ll. 140-155) But when earth had covered this generation also -- they are called blessed spirits of the underworld by men, and, though they are of second order, yet honour attends them also -- Zeus the Father made a third generation of mortal men, a brazen race, sprung from ash-trees (4); and it was in no way equal to the silver age, but was terrible and strong. They loved the lamentable works of Ares and deeds of violence; they ate no bread, but were hard of heart like adamant, fearful men. Great was their strength and unconquerable the arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs. Their armour was of bronze, and their houses of bronze, and of bronze were their implements: there was no black iron. These were destroyed by their own hands and passed to the dank house of chill Hades, and left no name: terrible though they were, black Death seized them, and they left the bright light of the sun.

(ll. 156-169b) But when earth had covered this generation also, Zeus the son of Cronos made yet another, the fourth, upon the fruitful earth, which was nobler and more righteous, a god-like race of hero-men who are called demi-gods, the race before our own, throughout the boundless earth. Grim war and dread battle destroyed a part of them, some in the land of Cadmus at seven- gated Thebe when they fought for the flocks of Oedipus, and some, when it had brought them in ships over the great sea gulf to Troy for rich-haired Helen's sake: there death's end enshrouded a part of them. But to the others father Zeus the son of Cronos gave a living and an abode apart from men, and made them dwell at the ends of earth. And they live untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Cronos rules over them (5); for the father of men and gods released him from his bonds. And these last equally have honour and glory.

(ll. 169c-169d) And again far-seeing Zeus made yet another generation, the fifth, of men who are upon the bounteous earth.

(ll. 170-201) Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth (6). The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another's city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidos and Nemesis (7), with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil.
posted by XMLicious at 12:55 PM on August 16, 2014

As always, there's a relevant XKCD.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:19 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might be interested in Jeremiads, which go back to the bible and the prophet Jeremiah, and are commonly condemnations of current society, and a yearning to return to earlier, "better" times.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:20 AM on August 17, 2014

I would there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting

The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare
Act 3, Scene 3

posted by Kwadeng at 7:21 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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