Old people are cranky, slow and boring. Kids are noisy, restless and irritating. For most of us, life is about making sure we stay as awesome as we are right now -- we'll always love our video games, and music, and eating burritos at two in the morning after the bars closed. Isn't that what all the commercials tell us, that you're only as old as you feel?
Well, science has some bad news for you. The behaviors of the elderly that you write off as old-person lameness, and your behavior that the elderly credit to dickish rebellion, are all based in biology. And no, you can't stop it.
As you age ...
7Your Brain Will Stop Getting Pleasure from New Music
When you're a kid, the absolute worst music in the world is whatever your parents are listening to. Your dad is out in the garage listening to goddamned Foghat, and you wonder why he doesn't want to cram that power drill right into his ear.
Get your uncool hands off our inheritance, you selfish old man.
Then when you grow up, the absolute worst music in the world is whatever the teenagers are listening to. You're still listening to real rock or rap, the hardcore stuff from back when music was genuine, while they're listening to some derivative manufactured Justin Bieber bullshit. Dammit, why won't they listen when you try to show then what real music sounds like?
"It was the greatest rivalry of all time, son."
If you're reading this and are somewhere in between the "kid" and "grownup" stages, you're probably thinking that you'd never just let your musical tastes freeze in time. You'll keep finding new bands as they emerge, staying on the cutting edge until the day you die.
But Over Time ...
As you get older, your brain becomes more and more unable to handle dopamine, which, as we've pointed out before, is a big factor in making us feel "the chills" when a new exciting piece of music comes on.
"Na na na getting jiggy wit it ... yeah, this is my sonnng!"
Because nothing you hear will have that same effect on you as the fresh exciting sounds of your youth, it will become harder and harder to get fired up about new music. Your musical taste will therefore stagnate, regardless of how on top of the trends you were at 17. If you want to know what new music will sound like when you're 50, go spend an hour watching TV shows intended for toddlers. See how long you can tolerate it.
So, you'll get older and settle down and, inevitably, the ubiquitous Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac will mysteriously appear in your collection, like a Gideon Bible in a hotel. Just accept it.
And get off our lawn.
6The Physical Urge to Rebel Will Fade Away
You teenagers out there should be ashamed of yourselves. Flip on the news and check out the chilling stories of teen school shootings and teen pregnancy and teen cyberbullying and teen vandalism and all of your other teen crimes. Any senior citizen can tell you: Society is on the verge of collapse, and if you want proof, you only need to look at the state of the world's out-of-control teenagers.
The bloody battle for a midnight bedtime rages on.
It's obvious why: Clearly, our godless immoral society has ruined our young people, filling their heads with the violent video games and the Jersey Shores and the dubstep. Just imagine what's going to happen when these little monsters grow up.
But Over Time ...
Don't worry, dad -- these little monsters will turn into the same boring insurance salesman you did. It's all in how the brain develops.
So give up on the dream of your son being a respected artist now, champ.
From the moment you tumble out of the womb until you turn 13 or so, you have a pretty solid contract with these tall people whose house you're living in. Your parents are the embodiment of structure and order -- you sleep when they tell you to sleep, eat what they tell you to eat and shit where they tell you to shit. Then, when your hormones start kicking in, suddenly you start rebelling against their tyrannical rule, staying out until 3 a.m., dedicating your homework time to video games and shitting in potted plants around the house.
Old people have one simple theory to explain this: Teenagers are assholes. But if they are, it's not necessarily their fault -- studies suggest that although the brain develops pretty rapidly through childhood, the parts that enable you to feel empathy and guilt take longer to kick in. During those teenage years, what you get is someone who is capable of driving a motor vehicle but incapable of fully empathizing with fellow human beings. So, really, not a great combination there.
"So I'm not old enough to vote, but I am old enough to pilot a 3,000-pound metal bullet through crowded neighborhoods?"
Somebody could object that this isn't true, because their kid was sweet and kind at age 10, but a jerkass at age 15. Well, that's because it looks like puberty actually messes with your brain's ability to read emotions, so for a while, you're actually less empathetic than a 6-year-old. The combination of an underdeveloped sense of remorse and an inability to tell when you're upsetting someone means that you're much more likely to scream "I hate you, Mom!" when she tells you to pick the layer of underpants up off the floor.
Eventually, though, the hormonal assault does wear off, and you begin to feel bad for all those times you called your mother a whore. It's about the same time that you start to whine about teenagers being assholes.
"Police? Yes, I've just turned 20 and all these 19-year-olds have turned up for the 'partay.' Please hurry."