I work in higher education, so there is both a lot of talking and a lot of talking about talking and noticing changes in the way people talk. Over the last few years, there’s been a steady increase int the use of “I feel like.” This seems to be an expansion on the well documented increase of the word “like,” and our slow evolution into a nation that speaks only in similes. It’s a strange development. I don’t remember asking how the other person felt. Outside of a clinical context, what kind of person constantly talks about how they feel? The kind of person who assumes you care. The kind of person who assume you are deeply invested in their feelings. The kind of person who has a whole lot of self esteem.
In other words, a person who grew up during the War on Drugs in the 80s and 90s. One might say that the worst part of of the drug war is that it was pointless, cost a fortune and was lost before it began. Hey now! Drug War doesn’t like to be confused with his brothers, Vietnam and Terror – they’re a very competitive War family. Vietnam gave us baby-boomers and their misplaced pride in ending a war in just seven years. Terror gave us the Tea Party, with its belief that the only purpose of government is to protect government benefits from falling into non-white hands. For its part, Drug War’s lasting legacy, its skid mark in the national underpants, is undoubtedly the focus on self-esteem building.
The national self esteem reconstruction project was implemented at significant expense through programs like D.A.R.E., which promulgated the idea that kids with high self esteem wouldn’t turn to drugs. Instead, after 30 years, D.A.R.E has created an entire generation that thinks they are the best ever at using drugs. Here’s a fun fact: in honor of D.A.R.E.’s 20th Anniversary, the General Accounting Office reviewed a half dozen studies of D.A.R.E and found that it was completely ineffective. At least I think that’s what it said – I was too baked to read it.
The long term social and economic impact of a generation smoking up in record number while believing you totally can’t tell is everywhere. Think of the dot com bubble, which was nothing more than a bunch of the best kids coming up with great ideas , like delivering pet food or groceries over the internet and then watching their share prices get inflated by a bunch of baby boom investors who couldn’t tell that the revenue projection on that red tablet was actually an Etch-A-Sketch.
There is more here than just David McCullough inveighing against everyone getting a trophy for their crap performance on a soccer field. The generation that grew up with a purple pedophile t-rex telling them that they loved them now has kids of their own. Our kids are so special we have to make up names for them. Former surnames are now first names that we spell wrong, like Jaxson or Goldbyrg. I was on the playground with my kids, and this other mother was yelling “Goldbyrg! Fynklstein! You’re going to catch cold!” And I thought, boy, Jewish mothers never change.
Being a special kid used to be euphemism for the kids who couldn’t stop drooling or masturbating in class. Now everyone wants their kid to special, and it’s just about as disgusting and certainly as much about self-pleasuring. Special kids learn differently, and you must – must – demand that their teacher accommodates their special learning style. The fact that no one can prove that kids learn differently should not dissuade us. What next, is it going to turn out that all those Baby Einstein videos were completely worthless? George Bush highlighted the company in his 2007 State of the Union, and It’s not like that guy ever used his State of the Union to champion bullshit.
I’m particularly alarmed at how often parents express concern at the idea that the “wrong” schools will crush their kids’ “creativity”. Our little Henderson can’t possibly be boxed into to sitting in class, following instructions, and learning to live in the social mixing bowl of the classroom. And why should they? They’re never going to have live in a world that requires they show respect for authorities, learn to deal with people different from themselves, and face some adversity. As special creative kids, they’re likely to find themselves alone or in small groups coming up with amazing ideas and big dreams completely incomprehensible to outsiders. You know, just like they were stoned.
Well played, drugs. Well played.