Ok, so I’m gonna start off with one of the most cliché lines I can think of, regarding how I feel about the youth of today. I know it’s overused, and boy do I feel like an old man even saying anything like this, but it’s true.
I just don’t know about kids these days.
I don’t. Truly, I find myself baffled sometimes by the choices that are being made by the future of our society. I don’t claim that my generation was a group of geniuses making the best decisions possible, in fact I thought all my peers (myself included) were pretty retarded too. But now, I’m stuck feeling like the youth of today is, somehow, dumber than my generation.
I didn’t think that was even possible. My generation popularized the Gangsta Culture after all . . .
The reason I bring this up, is because of an article I read a recently. It talked about an activity, which is apparently a common thing for kids to be doing these days. The kids (mostly teenagers, I assume) are partaking in something called “The Cinnamon Challenge”. Basically, it involves eating a spoonful of cinnamon with no liquid to wash it down. Here’s a spoiler, it can’t be done.
Of course, when I was a kid there was the saltine challenge. It was a similar idea, but you put 5 saltines in your mouth at the same time and tried eating them, with no liquid. Eventually, you got a glass of water and admitted defeat. Then one of your friends would try to do it, and in the end, all that would happen is some dry mouths and crumbs on the carpet.
Apparently, this cinnamon challenge, will result in coughing, choking, gasping for breath and vomiting. It will also have the chance of damaging your throat, and a decent chance of death by inhaling the cinnamon. All that sounds as pleasant as you’d expect from putting a burning spice in your mouth, but then most kids are capturing video of their attempt, and posting on site like youtube, to spread the bad idea across the world. Even worse, parents are encouraging and helping their kids to do this!
(Side note: when I was a kid, we used to have Atomic Fireball and Warhead challenges, but I don’t ever recall gagging, choking or any sort of urgency or danger. I do remember not being able to taste anything for a week though.)
Now, it’s well documented that teenagers do some pretty stupid stuff. I know me and my friends were no exception to this rule. Our zipline, which consisted of some old rope and a short length of PVC pipe is one obvious example of how dumb we were. Another being our penchant for making things explode, or otherwise incinerate. Hell, I used to hop on a bicycle, and hurl myself down the sides of hills at high speed (40+ MPH), with zero safety gear. Obviously consequences were not something I, or my friends considered.
Even through all that, I never felt like I was outright stupid though, just choosing to do stupid things. When we built the zipline, we inadvertently learned about construction, material life cycle, and to not be the first person trying out the new thing we ghetto-rigged together. Through our bomb making, we learned about safety, timing, material acquisition, and that it’s scary as hell to be the one who lights the bomb. I think from my downhill mountain biking, I only learned that it sucks to fall, but at least I was outside!
I think one important aspect to our stupidity, was learning new things. None of us really had much access to the internet, and there definitely weren’t sites like youtube or instructables around, so we had to go and learn everything ourselves, by doing. We had to experience it, we had to learn it, and we had to respect it, to get our joy and avoid the hospital. We didn’t have someone’s previous example to make us think it might be safe, we had to think and weigh the consequences ourselves. We even had to think of the stupid thing to do ourselves, as we didn’t have other stupid people showing us what stupid things we could do.
I guess I just see a change in the attitude towards doing something stupid. It seems so much more about finding a way to be seen, noticed and applauded for your stupidity than it is about doing that thing for the pleasure of it. How many people took the cinnamon challenge because they thought it would be fun? I’m guessing very few. But I’ll wager most of them did it because they knew it would get a laugh or two.
Now, since I started out with a cliché line, I’m gonna end fairly cliché as well.
I place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of the parents. Now, I’ll never win father of the year. In fact, I’m probably the last guy who should have kids. But I see so many parents who, after teaching things like ass wiping and how to watch 3 tv shows at the same time, just don’t take much involvement in their kid’s lives, at least, not in the development of their kids thinking skills.
Most kids seem to have learned that the most meaningless things, like watching a screen, are what you should spend the most time doing. From laptops, to computers, to the television, to mobile DVD players, to whatever else you can think of, we’re just teaching our kids to look for short distractions. Attention spans seem to be on the decline, and electronic addiction seems to be on the rise (not just for children). Is this really the direction we’re moving to? I hope not.
That’s why this child gives me hope. I don’t see him partaking in the cinnamon challenge, but I do see great things for this child’s future. I can only hope that I can raise a child who has a similar imagination, and good drive to do what they want.
Enough rambling, I need to go spend some time with my kids, so they don’t end up hooked on cinnamon.