Dear 50-year-old Me,This may seem strange, but I'm writing to offer you a little perspective and wisdom. I know people generally wish they could write letters to their younger selves, imparting all the knowledge they've accrued through life, but here's the thing: I don't believe that knowledge only builds in one direction. I suspect, in fact, that you may be an idiot. I'm sending this letter the opposite direction through time because I want you to be a better person, so let's get into it.By now you probably know that teenagers are terrible. Teachers, televisions, other parents and newspapers have all confirmed as much. The only people insisting otherwise are the teenagers themselves, and that's exactly what you'd expect those drug-crazed, evil hunks of greasy sexuality to say.
They can't be trusted.
Of course, you were a teenager once too, but not like this. Never like the current model. You were an eager and optimistic kid with a good head on his shoulders. But these teenagers are governed by something wholly different than intelligence, they are driven by impulse only. They run on the toxic fumes of burning hormones and gas station nachos. They swarm the streets even on school nights, huddling into their pulsing cliques, perpetuating one another's cruelty and confused sexuality while hopped up on bath salts and Internet. If they weren't the core demographic for horror flicks, there would be no need for beasts like vampires and zombies, there would only be teenage monsters haunting everyone, ruining everything.All of that sound right so far?No! That was a trick! Listen, Soren. There's something important I have to say about all those teenagers, about your teenagers, and you aren't going to want to hear it. Partially because it will ruin your concept of good parenting and partially because it starts with a description of rectal beer bongs. So steel yourself, we have to talk.
What's a Rectal Beer Bong?A rectal beer bong is a craze among teens in the early 2000s. It requires a length of plastic tubing, a funnel and a butt hole. The idea is that teens cram the tubes in their own rectums, intentionally, then pound beer after beer with their asses in what everyone is calling "Butt Chugging." No one can point to a single instance of it actually occurring, but we all just know that teens are doing it across America. We just know it.
You may have also noticed that the video clip above describes vodka tampons which are equally as unbelievable, and that's exactly why I bring these news segments up. The fact that butt chugging and vodka tampon-ing, at their core, are unbelievable is an important point to remember. They are unbelievable because they aren't actually happening. You'll notice that in all of the
news coverage, the headlines never read "Partiers Using Vodka Tampons and Beer Enemas to Get Drunk." It is without fail, only about "teens" because just mentioning the word shuts down everyone's bullshit detectors. As far as we know, teens are crazy. Of course they are cramming 151 up their vaginas, they're monsters.
Look at them. God knows what's in their vaginas right now.
And while it's possible that a teenager somewhere in the world tried these methods, this bizarre form of genital drinking is nowhere near the epidemic it's made out to be. At least, it wasn't before the news started teaching everyone how to do it. These stories spread like wildfire
through the media because inciting panic is profitable for news outlets, but more importantly, because adults want to believe they're true. This is where things get ugly for you, future me.You're part of that constituency that wants these completely ludicrous stories about teenagers to be real. There's probably a similar story in your time about teens getting high by rubbing fermented breast milk in their eyes or something, and you're ready to believe it. You want to believe it because there is a part of you that is hunting for a motive to be afraid of teens, even your teens, and that part of you is not interested in reason or logic. I just want you to understand why that is so that you can overcome it. Naturally, facts and explanations won't do much to sway you, but I'm hoping that by writing this down now, you will remember it all in the future and realize why your hostility toward teens is making you an idiot and a bad person.
The Next Generation Is a Reminder of Your Irrelevance.It's natural for you to be uneasy about youth. On the basest of levels, a young up-and-coming generation is a testament to your own growing insignificance. The animosity you feel toward teenagers is the same animosity old people feel toward technology; both represent an end to your relevance on Earth. It's only logical you would want to find faults in their new systems, proving you're still necessary in relation to the world. If that sounds off base, just look at the "dangerous craze" among teens in my day.
The media panic around I-Dosing is a desperate strike at two things adults don't quite understand and privately despise: Teenagers and technology. The preposterous idea of downloading drugs and getting high listening to a dial tone reeks of ignorance and fear. Everyone is willing to believe it because they aren't entirely sure what teenagers or the Internet are capable of. The news coverage just satisfies the urge adults have to poke holes in teenage and electronic culture at the same time. It feels good to believe this is happening because it allows everyone to point to the evils of both kids and the Internet while saying, "You see, they still need us! Our way was right all along!"But even beneath that desire to protect and to matter to kids is an emotion that's less sincere, that's more petty and selfish than fear.
"People mistake us for sisters all the time, don't they? DON'T THEY."
This will be the hardest to acknowledge, future Soren, because it will change the way you look at your hypothetical kids: You're jealous. In each teenager there is potential and opportunity to achieve what you couldn't, not just in terms of affecting the world but in every quadrant of life, even sexuality ...
Teens Are Partying and Having Sex. Hot, Young, Indiscriminate Sex. Think of sexuality as an ex-girlfriend. You're probably about 50 years old now and sexuality has since found someone younger and better looking to slam against. But because you still have emotions tied up in that ex-girlfriend, your worst fear is that whoever she found is better at everything than you. Together they are more experimental, more fun and they probably rearrange whole rooms at night by sexing hard against every piece of furniture. So now you're stuck in an awful position because even considering that prospect makes you sick, but even worse, it's also kind of hot. That jealousy is the same jealousy you feel for teenagers. The media panics surrounding teens are
always about partying. Those kids are finding new ways to have fun that you never even considered when you were their age, or worse, that you weren't brave enough to try. And the stories that incite the most controversy are about teens having the scariest kind of fun. Sex fun.
Tell me again why we're furious, but slower this time.
In the past couple years, Rainbow parties and sex bracelets have churned up massive storms among parents. They are secret sex parties that teens are supposedly having and they created school bans on bracelets and lipstick. These sex ciphers had parents clutching at their chests, discussing each lurid and indulgent detail. They incited media controversies in which newscasters slowly described the twisted, no-ties sex lives of the nation's children. And they were also completely made up. Whether they were manufactured by teens or by adults, it's not clear, but the fact that the stories spread as fast as they did without any verification at all speaks volumes about how eager everyone was to believe them. School administrators, churches, parents and news outlets attacked the mythical sex codes under the pretense of saving the children, but the true reason was much more visceral: They liked it. It gave them a tangible reason to loathe adolescents while simultaneously letting them pen horrifying, sexualized fan fiction about their own teens.
"And then Margaret said, 'Fuchsia bracelets!? You don't even want to know what they mean.' Yessss."
Scary, right? You can say yes this time, it's not a trick. I told you this wasn't going to be easy but once you understand every aspect of ephebiphobia, you can overcome it. Stick with it, we're almost done.
Hating Teenagers Just Feels Right.Despite all the fear and the jealousy, there's another, much stronger part of you that just wants to hate teenagers because they suck. I know, because I already feel it in my 20s. Giving you proof of why they don't deserve our hatred isn't going to make you feel any better or change your mind. You prefer compelling lies about vodka tampons and sex bracelets than factual monotony because you are happier being angry than being right.
"This is all I know."
Moral outrage is useful, even when it's built around imaginary problems because it gives you the context to say, "Wow, I'm a pretty good person in comparison to that." The stories about teenagers drinking vodka through their vaginas and having color-themed blow job parties are strangely comforting because you can set your moral compass by them. I'm assuming that even in your 50s you're a pretty good person, but you still need reminders of what's egregious just to know you're on the right track. Teenagers are the perfect choice because you already privately hate them and now you have a reason to make that hatred legitimate. It all works out, right?No! That was a trick again! You're terrible at this. Consider for a second what it says about you when you choose to believe in idiotic and absurd myths just so you have something tangible with which to compare your own moral fiber. How can you be proud of who you are when that pride is only in relationship to monsters that don't exist? Most importantly, how bad must your perspective on the entire world be if you're willing to believe the next generation is made up strictly of butt chuggers? Think it over, you're better than that.
Special thanks to David Wong for his help organizing this column.
You can follow Soren's progress fermenting breast milk for ocular highs on Twitter