Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Lost Art of Initiative

I'm older. I get it. I can tell I'm older, because I'm acting my age, regaling in the camaraderie of others who drench themselves in the nostalgia of their youth and wonder how things ever got so messed up. In fact, the only thing that keeps me balanced is recalling how my parents looked at my generation and thought the same things.

Still, I'm just as tired of hearing young people whine about everything as you probably are. Mostly, it's their inability to meet potential life partners, but it seems that since the invention of the play date, kids have grown up expecting things to be served up to them. To most of them, swiping left or right can determine their Saturday night plans. Pointing and clicking not only lays a world of options at their feet, but enables expectations that are wholly unrealistic and somewhat depressing.

When the internet became real (I use 1998 as the date), it held a lot of promise about connectivity, open resources and the freedom of access to information. I was there. I recall the rush of excitement of not only global reach, but instant global reach, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But the one thing nobody saw coming ended up crippling an entire generation of humanity:

The internet destroyed initiative.

It turns out that when you lay the world at people's feet, they start expecting you to, well, lay the entire world at their feet. When they're just a screen away from getting results, they begin to think that life is an instant set of search results. They stop asking questions. They stop wondering. It doesn't occur to them to object to anything. They cease developing their innate hunting skills in favor of leaning back and waiting for their next request to be fulfilled.

People often ask me why the world is in "such bad shape." I tell them the world isn't in bad shape at all. Everything we had before 1998 is still there. It's just that a generation lacks the initiative to get out there and hunt for real answers to real questions that suits their own real interests. If you settle for what Google tells you is the answer, you deserve what you get: an unfulfilled life.

Think I'm kidding? Take a look at some of the confused, irrational and downright impossible policies that are being proposed, passed and enforced by the people in charge of your local, state and Federal government. People who just a few short years ago had no problem defining what a woman is or understanding that you can't ban airplanes or diesel-powered ships and still get to Hawaii mostly grew up in the age of point and click.

This whole issue was brought to a head when I overheard some young guys bemoaning their frustrations with dating. Hey, let's face it: every generation moaned about meeting someone. But these young men use dating apps and dating websites and just about anything else that could charge a monthly fee, and none of them was meeting anyone. That's when I asked them about taking some initiative. "Are you going out there? Are you hunting for these women or just sitting around? Are you dressed like a winner or a loser? Even at the grocery store, you need to be on the lookout. You have no idea how many people fall in love in the produce section!"

While that piqued their interest, they responded lethargically: "Yeah, but where are we supposed to go?" At this point, my being helpful got charged with my own frustration: "Just be an interesting young man and if she's of interest to you, ask her along! To Museums! Art galleries! Parks! Theaters! Bars! Clubs! Grocery stores! Nature hikes! Just walking down the street! Say hello! Make conversation! For crying out loud, you want me to fuck her for you, too?"

It might be the most Old Dad thing I've ever yelled.


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