Everywhere I go I am told - usually by young parents - that "today's generation of kids is so much brighter and smarter". This claim is followed by evidence that involves their precious and his or her precocious mastery over some electronic gadget, almost always the TV remote. Exhibit A is then followed by vigorous head-nodding by everyone at the dinner table. The topic is deemed to have been satisfactorily concluded when one of the diners makes this profound observation: "when we were at that age, we were *so* clueless".
I don't know about you, but I am getting tired of this talk. For two very good reasons. One, it is so not true and two, because it is utterly false, man.
Our generation (well, technically not my generation. I am from the "between the 8-track and the Cassette" generation) mastered the Sony Walkman whose interface and operation so much more complex than an iPod - another gadget that often pops up as Exhibit A in this discussion. We wrote unmassive single-player non-role playing non-games like "Hello World" on the C64 computer which, if you recall, had no mouse and let me tell you mommy, that's too much for little Einstein. When we wanted entertainment, we had something called a "shortwave radio" which involved - gasp - sitting and listening to a song for a full 45 seconds. Times were hard and our minds sharp.
But I am not here to discuss each generation's gadget-fu or to argue over which generation is more intelligent. My rant here is about the message implicit in the Young Parent's Claim. Because when you extrapolate the thing backwards (or forwards), you arrive at conclusions that go against everything we know about Mankind. Here's why.
I distinctly remember *my* mother making several Young Parent Claims about me to her friends. I fully agree with her, but come on. If every generation were more intelligent than the preceding one, wouldn't that make us all a bunch of idiots compared to the Class of 2058? Ooh, look, little Pappu made a working prototype of the teleportation chamber using mashed potatoes and Similac!
Or, if you take this argument backwards, it just means the Early Man was not very smart. Is that so? Agriculture? Fire? Clubbing neighbor to death with a branch of a tree? Hello!
What I am saying is, we were not that much smarter or dumber tens of thousands of years ago. Nor will we be much smarter or dumber tens of thousands of years from now. We will always be who we are: a bored, distracted, violent species with unwavering belief in its abilities and wisdom.
All right, one last point. when CaveMoms gathered around a fire and chatted (engraved?) about how "little Gwggrr has grown opposable thumbs!" or how their 1-year old daughter knows how to read the sundial, that should have been the first and last time anyone had to endure "the kids these days are so clever!" at a dinner party.