5 Warning Signs That You're Finally Getting Older

#2. Every Debate Makes You Roll Your Eyes

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When You're a Kid ...

Part of creating your own identity is rebellion. And a huge part of that rebellion is taking a stand against social norms and actively fighting it. They say your hair needs to be a certain length, so you grow it long. They say your pants have to be a certain style, so you start wearing kilts. Like 10 at a time. When you can't take action, you use your voice. Maybe you've smoked some pot, so you take a stance on legalization and subconsciously look for opportunities to argue your case. If you can't find those debates, maybe you force the issue, shoehorning the topic into another conversation:

"I agree, what happened with those shootings was a tragedy. It's really a shame that we haven't legalized weed yet, because that could have prevented the whole thing. Wait, hear me out ..."

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"No, Chad, I refuse to listen to any more arguments that contain the phrase 'The Man'."

Those debates are calisthenics for the mind, and they are incredibly important. It's where you learn healthy confrontation and negotiation skills, which will probably be some of the most useful skills you'll ever acquire in life because it's how you will net yourself raises, promotions, and a neon-pink kitchen. Those things don't just hand themselves over without some debate and convincing.

The Warning Sign:

Eventually, you reach a point where you have heard virtually every debate point for every topic ever conceived by man. Nothing anyone says is new. Nothing anyone says is convincing the other side to "convert" to their line of thinking. Consider how long debates have been around between atheists and Christians, legalization and anti-drug groups, pro-lifers and pro-choicers, Democrats and Republicans, and on and on. So many of the talking points and debate styles overlap from topic to topic that you can damn near lip sync to them as they're being said. All debates have turned into a Nickelback album.

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"And now, to wrap up my final 30 seconds, is Chad Ripsmash on the drums."

When you reach a certain age, you don't even see the intelligence or perspective in a debate anymore because you've heard the arguments so much, it's just different people saying the same things in an endless circle jerk. For instance, I know with 100 percent certainty that even without me declaring a side on any of those topics that I listed off in the preceding paragraph, someone will make a smartass, snarky comment about one of them, and that spark will ignite a debate. Just from naming the sides of a debate.

You will reach this point so much sooner than you think. Especially if you hang out on the Internet as a primary or even secondary source of entertainment. Because these debates are everywhere -- they are inescapable. All of them require intelligence, introspection, unbiased examination, and scrutiny ... yet they are almost always conducted by average people with unremarkable IQs who think that winning a debate is determined by who can make the most smartass jab.

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Eventually, they'll make it a full-contact event, and then we'll see whose point is correct.

#1. You Lose the Ability to Be Surprised by Entertainment

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When You're a Kid ...

The Sixth Sense was one of the coolest movies I've ever seen. Not because of the main content, but because the ending alone was enough to cement that film in cinematic history. It was brilliant. Fight Club was the same way. Given, the meat of that movie was fun as hell to watch, but the twist was just mind-blowing at the time.

Those little surprises are what make entertainment awesome when you're growing up. I'm not just talking about "twist endings," though. They can be -- and often are -- more subtle. A punchline of a great joke is only funny because you didn't expect it. A horror movie is scary because you never know what's going to jump out at you next. Holy fuck, I nearly shit myself when I saw the first two Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Those twists and turns are what keep things interesting and fresh.

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"Hey, who let the preteens into The Crying Game 3D?"

The Warning Sign:

Unfortunately, they abide by a pretty strict formula, and once you've experienced so many of them, they become as predictable as a sunrise. A perfect example of this is BioShock Infinite. Don't worry, I'm not going to give out spoilers.

I bought the game because everyone I spoke to and every review I read said that it was quite literally one of the greatest games ever created. Their biggest praise fell on the storytelling, and I cannot find anyone who doesn't think that it's pure genius.

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That's the look of two motherfuckers who just got their goddamn minds blown, right there.

Except for all of my friends who are my age or older. None of us think it's a bad game, mind you. Hell, none of us really even think it's a bad story. But it is not even remotely close to being the mind-bending benchmark that the gaming world is declaring it to be. The reason for our very subjective, equally worthless opinions is because we've seen these plots a thousand times in a thousand different formats. Half of us predicted the "twist" in that game long before the setup was even complete.

That's not a slam on the game or a "Hey, look how smart and cool we are." It's a prime example of how our age and experience have trained us to read tone, music and visual cues, symbolism, pacing, three-act setup -- because we've played hundreds of games. We've seen hundreds of movies. We've read hundreds of books. We know stories. We know twists. And you will, too. It's not about intelligence. It's about consuming so much for so long that you can pick out the individual ingredients that went into making the cake.

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"Mmmm. Sweet misdirection, with just a dash of viewer doubt."

But don't let me scare you. Growing older is a good thing in most respects. I'm just saying that it can sneak up on you if you don't know what to look for. Once you're prepared for it, it's up to you how to use it. Hell, Steven Tyler is like 190 years old, and that dude is still going like age ain't shit.

John is a columnist right here at Cracked. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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