Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Kids These Days

I enjoy using my backyard garden as a metaphor for my life. Not only does this make me feel wise and clever (i.e. both sides of the “smart” coin), it lets me use pictures of my yard to illustrate my metaphor du jour. Lately however, current events have overtaken my horticultural pretensions and made me realize that despite what Voltaire said, we can’t always be about cultivating our own gardens and communing with Mother Nature. Sooner or later, we must venture forth to commune with our fellow man. At which point: yikes!

I am already suffering from a sort of culture shock with Kids-These-Days, that, truth be told, has reached proportions that make the generation gap of my own Nixonian youth seem quaintly, sweetly, naively, shallow. Where we had Elvis, and later his squalid death and post-death sightings, young people now have the Dead James Brown Traveling Road Show. While both have left this world, neither, sadly, has left the building. But somehow, the Godfather of Soul’s sorry and to-be-continued end has left the King of Rock and Roll’s post-death narrative in the dustbin of history.

A more recent celebrity death draws even more striking parallels and contrasts. Marilyn Monroe died alone in a sleazy hotel, under mysterious circumstances. By the standards of Marilyn’s mysterious death, Anna Nicole’s public departure from another sleazy hotel room, replete with fighting over the dead body and complicated by questions of paternity, maternity, and sanity make Marilyn’s one-note drug overdose seem disappointingly flat. We never had TMZ to show us pictures of Marilyn’s “death fridge” containing little more than canned diet drinks and methadone. And now, we never will.

As these celebrity death comparisons darkly portend, changes are afoot in our culture big enough to make a constant resident herein reel, not to mention their potential effect on somebody who has been away for a while.

By the standards of internet profiles of KTD’s, this modest blog is archaic and low tech. I will never publicly muse on whether my period is late, my sex partner has an STD, or my ex-BFF is a pathetic loser. I will never post an embarrassing phone video to the humiliation of friends and family. I will cling to a vanishing sense of privacy that KTDs already seem to know is only an illusion. KTSs don’t seem to shrink from the likelihood that their obsessive and public documentation of their lives may one day be a source of amusement to their own children. They have developed skins thick enough that they might not mind, someday, if their grandchildren ask them to explain why their youthful digital ghosts appear like lost waifs in a Girls Gone Wild video, documenting their unresolved Daddy Issues for all to see.

So, I’ll retreat to my garden while KTDs perform for a public audience. It is my hope that all the cleverness and wisdom I seek there will someday reconcile me to the cultural shock I experience when I try to understand Kids These Days.

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