"What's the Matter with Kids Today?"
February 19, 2015 3:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for quotes that express one generation's frustration with the next.

Maybe it's the weather, but my Facebook has been blowing up lately with negative comments about Millennials and the Zs, and it's starting to drive me nuts. Things like "when I was their age, I was hanging out with friends, not my phone ha ha ha!" and "I had a job when I was their age, kids today are just lazy!" and so on.

I'd like to have a list of quotes to throw back-- about how gosh-darn-awful Today's Kids have always been. They can be ironic, comic, serious, whatever-- but ideally, they'll be about the Lost, Greatest, Silent, Boomer, and X generations.

(I know it won't register with some people, but those of us who've preceded the Millennials & Zs have helped create the world that they're struggling to live in, and we really shouldn't be throwing stones.)
posted by ElaineMc to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
First mention of "Get off the lawn!" on Metafilter, Zachsmind, July 30, 2000.
posted by HuronBob at 4:02 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

― [attributed to] Socrates
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:07 AM on February 19, 2015 [12 favorites]

The answers to this question from 2009 may be relevant.
posted by misteraitch at 4:24 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

That "attributed to Socrates" quote is, I suspect, grade-A bullshit. Notice how there's never a specific source given? That's because it's not (to my knowledge) in any source.
posted by thelonius at 4:24 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Actually, Googling casually turned up a (non-Socrates) source from 1907
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:30 AM on February 19, 2015

"The world must be coming to an end. Children no longer obey their parents and every man wants to write a book."
inscribed on a Babylonian Tablet, circa 2,800BC
posted by Flood at 4:30 AM on February 19, 2015 [10 favorites]

Do a Google image search for "scumbag baby boomer" for a wealth of these.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:58 AM on February 19, 2015

Best answer: This xkcd may be relevant. (Sources listed. I haven't double-checked them, though.)
posted by xenization at 5:04 AM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best answer: This blog has a few historical references that may help you.
posted by BlooPen at 5:49 AM on February 19, 2015

Best answer: The twentysomething generation is balking at work, marriage and baby-boomer values. Why are today's young adults so skeptical? - the canonical Gen X Time article from 1990.

How well I remember when I was the slack one. It was a great decade, actually. I am only sorry that the Millennials and Z-ers or whatever they're called are not having nearly as good a youth.
posted by Frowner at 5:51 AM on February 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

(I mean, due to the economy and increasing inequality, not due to any innate lack of capacity for fun or happiness.)
posted by Frowner at 5:53 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: "Our sires' age was worse than our grandsires'. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt."
-- Horace, Odes, circa 20 BC

"Youth were never more sawcie, yea never more savagely saucie . . . the ancient are scorned, the honourable are contemned, the magistrate is not dreaded."
-- Thomas Barnes, The Wise-Man's Forecast against the Evill Time, 1624

"... I find by sad Experience how the Towns and Streets are filled with lewd wicked Children, and many Children as they have played about the Streets have been heard to curse and swear and call one another Nick-names, and it would grieve ones Heart to hear what bawdy and filthy Communications proceeds from the Mouths of such ..."
-- Robert Russel, A Little Book for Children and Youth, 1695

"Whither are the manly vigor and athletic appearance of our forefathers flown? Can these be their legitimate heirs? Surely, no; a race of effeminate, self-admiring, emaciated fribbles can never have descended in a direct line from the heroes of Potiers and Agincourt ..."
-- letter to Town and Country Magazine, 1771

"... [boys] with dogs at their heels and other evidence of dissolute habits ... [girls who] drive coal-carts, ride astride upon horses, drink, swear, fight, smoke, whistle, and care for nobody ... the morals of children are tenfold worse than formerly."
-- Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, speech to the House of Commons, 1843

"... see the simpering little beau of ten gallanting home the little coquette of eight, each so full of self-conceit and admiration of their own dear self, as to have but little to spare for any one else ... the sweet simplicity and artlessness of childhood, which renders a true child so interesting, are gone (like the bloom of the peach rudely nipped off) never to return."
-- S.B.S, The Mothers' Journal and Family Visitant, 1853

"Never has youth been exposed to such dangers of both perversion and arrest as in our own land and day. Increasing urban life with its temptations, prematurities, sedentary occupations, and passive stimuli just when an active life is most needed, early emancipation and a lessening sense for both duty and discipline, the haste to know and do all befitting man's estate before its time, the mad rush for sudden wealth and the reckless fashions set by its gilded youth -- all these lack some of the regulatives they still have in older lands with more conservative conditions."
-- Granville Stanley Hall, The Psychology of Adolescence, 1904

"The rock upon which most of the flower-bedecked marriage barges go to pieces is the latter-day cult of individualism; the worship of the brazen calf of the Self."
-- Anna A. Rogers, The Atlantic, 1907

"... lax habits and low moral standards, are becoming unconsciously appropriated by the plastic minds of American youth. Let them do what they may; divorce scandals, hotel episodes, free love, all are passed over and condoned by the young ..."
-- The Pentecostal Evangel, 1926

"... the phrase to make a living could have absolutely no meaning to these children of the affluent society."
-- Life Magazine, 1968
posted by kyrademon at 6:07 AM on February 19, 2015 [18 favorites]

Best answer: "... the 1970s, a period that will come to be known as the Me Decade."
-- Thomas Wolfe, New York Magazine, 1976

"[Gen-Xers] have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder … They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial … They postpone marriage because they dread divorce."
-- Time Magazine, 1990
posted by kyrademon at 6:10 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

"I can't believe the music that kids listen to now-a-days! Whatever happened to wholesome music like 'Push It' and 'Me So Horny'?" - as seen on Facebook this morning.
posted by Sassyfras at 6:14 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: “It has been suggested that what this superbly organized child needs more than anything else is time — time to sit alone under the apple tree and simply muse. The question is: does he know how to sit alone and muse? And would he want to, even if he did? There still may be children around who putter in happy solitude with empty coffee cans or, in their livelier moments, crouch with the neighborhood aficionados over a smashing good game of marbles, but life’s heady pace has broken most tykes of such quaint preoccupations…”

That's from the 1964 book The Child Worshipers.
posted by escabeche at 6:15 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

"I weep for the future"
- the maître d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
posted by gyusan at 7:20 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also previously on askmefi.
posted by stray at 7:23 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

What's the matter with kids these days?
posted by zizzle at 7:45 AM on February 19, 2015

In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.

Oscar Wilde
posted by y2karl at 7:56 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

An Associated Press article reported that on Sunday, December 2, 1956, The Rev. Carl Elgena told his Des Moines, Iowa, congregation that “Elvis Presley is morally insane” and “by his actions he’s leading other young people to the same end.” He warned the over 800 members in the pews of the Grand View Park Baptist Church that “the belief of unholy pleasure has sent the morals of our nation down to rock bottom and the crowning addition to this day’s corruption is Elvis Presleyism.” Holding up magazine pictures and articles depicting some of the singer’s alleged actions, the minister declared, “When I was a boy, if a person had done things like this, he would have found himself in jail.”
posted by iviken at 2:34 PM on February 20, 2015

“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress." - Peter the Hermit, 1274 A.D.

He also didn't approve of video games.
posted by jb at 9:45 PM on February 24, 2015

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