Let's illustrate the point with pop music as our example. Right now, you might laugh at whatever the kids have been listening to since they figured out Justin Bieber is not exactly the worthiest idol (they ... they've figured that out by now, r-right?). But with time, you'll see the cycle of teen idols over and over again and suddenly recognize the pattern. There's no point getting angry about some individual squeaky-voiced fucker and their autotune, because there's always a new one waiting in line until the sun implodes.
This applies to everything: Pay a little attention and you'll learn how the news cycle works. You'll learn to anticipate the type of poop presidential candidates hurl at each other as the election unfolds. You'll see every wrestling storyline of your youth recycled seven times over. It's all patterns, and with sufficient experience there's a point where you discover you can pretty much anticipate, among other things, what Generic Young Person X will do in Generic Situation Y. And that can be dangerous, because learning the world's ropes a bit doesn't give you the superpower to always know what everyone thinks. At all.
"Dicks. Everyone thinks about dicks."
The thing is, this is very hard to keep in mind in a world where news sites constantly tease our "I knew it" boners with reactionary horseshit about stupid young people doing stupid young people crap. You can (and, in my opinion, should) try to keep your newly acquired skill of understanding stuff a little bit better to yourself and use it to shake your head and move silently along when the next Reddit freak-out or whatever comes around. But a far easier route is to ignore every single political, social, financial, and environmental aspect that influences the world around us and assume that your flimsy pattern-recognition skills mean you now know everything about everyone younger than you. If you walk down that road, congratulations! It'll end in a rickety rocking chair labeled "Reserved for the 'Kids These Days' fucker."
Oh, you know who I'm talking about. You know tons of these guys, and they're the reason you think older people suck. They misread the cycles they went through growing up as the original ones and assume everything that has happened since then is merely an inferior rehash of their spin on the wheel. That, friends, is the attitude that gave us the Baby Boomers' classic "When I was your age ..." complaint. Generation X currently has the microphone, and damn if we're not indulging in more than our share of bashing millennials and whatever the latest generation is called. Generation Z? Hahaha, fucking really, people who name these things?
I'm very much wrestling with this shit myself, and if I'm being honest, I'm not sure I can avoid that "angry old person" scenario. Still, just being aware that we'll all one day reach that point might help us on our quest to not become total assholes. So ... uh, now that we're aware, let's make a pact: You'll try to avoid turning into one, and I'll promise to do the same. Cool? Cool.
Now, get off my goddamn lawn.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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