Generation Z Bashing: NY Post and Lazy Journalism
Young people have always been horrible in the eyes of conservatives.
The New York Post. Low brow entertainment. A platform for right wing ghouls. A promoter of con artists. They recently ran a book review by Todd Farley as an opinion piece and it was so thoroughly crap I want to dissect it, starting with the title.
Gen Z is made of zombies — less educated, more depressed, without values
Wow. You just really came out swinging there didn’t you. Zombies? What does that even mean? Surely you don’t mean that they are literally undead. The word “zombies” is never mentioned again in the article, so the claim is never explained. And then the two claims “less educated, more depressed” are weird accusations to make. Kids generally don’t get to decide how much education they receive. And if they really are depressed, maybe we should try to help them instead of calling them zombies. And to say someone is “without values” is meaningless. Everyone has values, we just may not agree with them.
Each new school year, Jeremy Adams, a teacher in Bakersfield, Calif., gives the same lesson. When he shows pictures of celebrities like Kendall Jenner or Miley Cyrus to his students on a screen, they immediately recognize them. But faced with photos of policymakers like Mike Pence or Nancy Pelosi, the children stare blankly.
Oh wow, kids get more engaged when they see pictures of celebrities they like then pictures of elderly politicians? What a horrifying revelation.
That ignorance is no joke to Adams, he writes in his new book, “Hollowed Out: A Warning About America’s Next Generation” (Regnery Publishing), out now.
Wait, are you claiming high school students didn’t know who the vice-president was? I’m going to go ahead and say you’re a liar. And not all publishers are the same. A noted journalist once observed that Regnery is “a leaky arsehole of right wing schlock.”
A National Teacher of the Year nominee…
So you lost.
Adams frets that today’s youngsters are “barren of the behavior, values and hopes from which human beings have traditionally found higher meaning … or even simple contentment.” Adams calls them “hollowed out,” a generation living solitary lives, hyperconnected to technology but unattached from their families, churches or communities. He cites statistics showing teen depression rose 63 percent from 2007 to 2017 while teen suicide grew 56 percent. Tragically, he writes, suicide has become the second leading cause of death for the young.
Again, everyone has values, we just disagree about what is worth valuing. Those statistics do pretty much check out. Though suicide and homicide have long been the second or third cause of death for teens, well behind the leader--accidents. So how did we get here?
While teachers once helped students become their “best selves” by putting the focus on curriculums, lesson plans and test scores, he writes, that’s given way to trying to “understand” young people through programs emphasizing suicide and depression awareness, human trafficking concerns, or bullying, gangs and shootings.
Are you complaining about programs about suicide and depression awareness? I thought you just said those were major problems. Preventing suicide seems way more important than a largely meaningless increase in test scores.
Adams blames the dissolution of the American family for this shift, with marriage rates down and the number of traditional two-parent homes plummeting. Although studies have shown that regular family dinners leads to less youth “smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity,” most of Adams’ students say they eat dinner alone each night, focused not on family but the device in their hand.
Ugh. This is such an old whine about “traditional families.” And this gets to my core complaint about Adams: he’s apparently completely oblivious that he is part of an actual tradition thousands of years old of complaining about young people today.
It’s really a myopic world view that mistakes your personal peak and decline for the peak and decline of all civilization.
And by the way, teen rates of alcohol use, drug use and sexual activity have been going down.
He also bemoans the evaporation of religious life. While only 2 percent of Americans identified themselves as “atheists” in 1984, that number was 22 percent by 2020. A college religion professor notes that when he discusses Matthew from the Bible, many students think he’s talking about Matthew Perry of “Friends.” And Luke? His students assume it’s the guy from “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
OK. There’s no context here explaining why being an atheist is bad or why being religious is good. You know who loves religion? The Taliban. That maybe unfair, but its also not wrong. And give me a break, both of those shows ended before today’s teenagers were even born.
Religion has been replaced by “a mass culture of ‘banality, conformity, and self-indulgence,’ ” Adams writes, not to mention an obsession with technology. He notes that in the 1970s, more than 50 percent of high schoolers hung out with friends “every day,” but by 2020, that number had dropped below 33 percent
I’m sorry, did you not follow the news in 2020? Let me catch you up. There was a pandemic and we were all supposed to socially distance from each other. I’m not sure why I’m using the past tense…
Modern high schoolers regularly forgo traditional activities like Friday night football games to hunker down alone, “watching Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+.”
Yeah, high school football sucks. Also you’re missing some context when somebody tells you they’re going to “Netflix and chill.”
That helps explain why in 2012, 49 percent of teens ranked “in person” as their favorite way to talk, but in 2018, only 32 percent did.
Modern students constantly text during classes, Adams says, or watch streaming services during Zoom meetings, living in a state that psychiatrists call “continuous partial attention.”
As a former educator myself I am sympathetic to the nuisance of phones in the classroom. I’ll give you a classroom management tip: give students one warning and then take their phones. You’re welcome.
And I don’t know anything about Adams beyond what’s in the article but I would be willing to bet that he has a smartphone that he uses daily. Get over yourself.
Studies show the average Gen Z student uses five electronic devices and has an 8-second attention span, which results in “lower grades, diminished ability to concentrate, and stunted academic achievement.”
I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. It’s like saying men think about sex every 8 seconds. It’s not true but it’s impossible to prove to be untrue.
Adams predicts that today’s young people will be unprepared for the future. In 2014, a US general was quoted saying “the quality of people willing to serve has been declining rapidly,” with 71 percent of current 17- to 24-year-olds ineligible due to obesity, criminal records, or mental health or drug issues.
Yeah, people don’t want to be in the army. But the army is pickier than that statement lets on. There are other reasons people are ineligible that can be overcome if the Army would help potential recruits get their GED, accept visible tattoos and people with ADHD.
Meanwhile, a recent survey highlighted that while 70 percent of senior citizens could pass a US citizenship test, less than 20 percent of those under 45 could, Adams writes.
People “under 45” includes Millennials and some Gen X. So did this survey even include Gen Z? .
Not that today’s youngsters seem to care.
“I never hear young people professing love for their country,” Adams writes. “I used to. But not lately. That is when I really think teachers have a front row seat for America’s decline.”
Barf. Maybe because you wrote this book during the Trump era. Living under a kakistocracy probably didn’t inspire a lot of kids to spontaneously declare how much they loved their country. Yeah, but no, America’s decline is being caused by teenagers. That’s the issue. The teens.