I wish people who say that people over 30 should be dead would die

Every now and then the same old chestnut gets circulated via email, on a web site or a blog. Normally I ignore them but occasionally one comes along and strikes me as the perfect storm of stupidity: an old joke, not particularly funny and masquerading as insightful social commentary while actually being banal sanctimonious crap.

One such example cropped up on Reddit today and it wasn't really the site owner's fault because they posted in July 2003. It's headed "People over 30 should be dead" and while I won't blame the site owner for its appearance on Reddit, I will blame them for posting this shit and thinking it's funny/insightful/true. And as people still forward drivel like this via email and blogs I think it's worth refuting. To deconstruct it line by line:

"Our baby cribs were covered with brightly coloured lead paint"

I'm sorry, but if you think lead based paint on a baby crib (or anywhere) is a good idea, you're a fucking idiot.

"We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets"

And kids did eat medicine and drain cleaner and get sick and die. How are these things bad?

"when we rode our bikes we had no helmets. (Not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.)"

Try comparing head injuries between "then" and "now". I think you'll find helmets have significantly reduced fatalities and disabilities from head injuries. And hitch-hiking? People still do that now. And occasionally get killed. If you think hitch-hiking is all fluffy bunnies and chocolate rainbows, maybe I should introduce you to Ivan Milat.

"We would ride in cars with no seatbelts or airbags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat."

Oh come on! The reduction in fatalities due to the introduction of seatbelts and airbags must be just about too high to count. In Australia it would be hundreds per year. In the US it would be many thousands per year. And you still see utes with kids in the back in country towns around here. And the result is still the same when the ute crashes.

"We drank water from the garden hose and not a bottle."

Who the fuck is saying water from the tap is bad? Obsessive yuppies? If you are in a developed country with no major pollution problems and your pipes aren't as crappy as the ones in my building (I have to filter tap water) then the tap water is probably healthier than bottled water. I think this one is bullshit and doesn't even belong with the other – bottled water isn't a safety issue, it's some bullshit marketing.

"We ate (unhealthy things) and we were never overweight because we were outside playing."

Good point although it's glossing over the increases in processed sugar and fats contained in foods now.

"We shared one soft drink with four friends from one bottle and nobody actually died from this."

Again, WTF? What is the point here? Crap like this doesn't belong in a discussion about safety issues.

"We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No cell phones. Unthinkable!"

This one I agree with. People are too paranoid about constantly staying in contact these days.

"We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cell phones, personal computers, or Internet chat rooms. We had friends! We went outside and found them. We played dodge ball, and sometimes, the ball would really hurt."

We're on a roll here, I agree with this one too.

"We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame but us. Remember accidents?"

Still in pretty good territory, I'm not a fan of the culture of blame.

"We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it."

Back into bullshit. This sounds like the words of a psychopathic bully. I had fights too but not everybody got over it. Some people were constantly victimised and brutalised (and this still happens) and "get over it" doesn't really cut it when you are in mortal terror every day at school.

"We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever."

You ate worms? You sick bastard. And what constitutes an acceptable number of eyes being put out? I'm guessing "lots so long as none of them are mine."

"Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Some students weren't as smart as others, so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Horrors! Tests were not adjusted for any reason."

Again, I agree here. Although I think that the incidence of kids not being allowed to fail so they don't feel bad is greatly exaggerated by people trying to make a political point.

"Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. Imagine that!"

True story: my older brother got busted for joy riding (also known as stealing a car) with his friends about 30 years ago. Because he had no record, the judge was going to let him off but my dad insisted he pay the price for his crime and sent him to a juvenile jail. Where his three cell mates had all killed family members. That was a real bright idea.

So all of the above is meant to add up to the collective wisdom that anyone over 30 should be dead because safety standards were so poor by comparison in our childhoods. What passes for logic here is "I didn't die when none of these safety standards were in place so therefore nobody's life has been saved by improved safety standards." The fact that this could only be accepted as sound logic by somebody who actually did suffer some severe childhood head trauma is telling.

I think parents and authority figures today do need to lighten up. Learning how to deal with risk and consequences is an important part of life. And saying a risk isn't bad because it only affects one in a thousands kids is glibness born of the fact that the one kid wasn't yours. And spouting mindless claptrap that you think makes you look wise or witty really isn't helping.



Filed under General Angriness, Internet

21 responses to “I wish people who say that people over 30 should be dead would die

  1. Kerryn

    I think this goes way beyond railing against safety standards. The original e-mail is strongly anti-authoritarian, as well as displaying some far more insidious prejudices (you were right, the point about kids not dying from sharing a soft drink didn’t fit and to me seems to be a very pointed and uninformed opinion on the spread of HIV/AIDS. Extrapolate from there, if you will!) and biases.

    I think the reason this one is seen as somewhat harmless by a lot of people is that they can identify, on the surface, with some of the experiences listed. I know, for me, it initially reminded me of a reasonably carefree childhood. I didn’t forward it on though because the original ending of the e-mail caused me to go back and have a critical look at it.

    This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you’re one of them!


    Please pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives for our own good….

    For me, that passage is the WTF moment of the piece?

    I’ve since asked friends and family to stop forwarding propaganda wrapped in a veil of nostaglia or nationalism (or the list goes on forever) like this to me simply because it makes me seethe. If they’re happy to be told how, what and when to think, more power to them. I’ll let them toddle off and watch their daily dose of what passes for current affairs in peace.

  2. Capri

    How old was the person that said that about people over 30?

  3. Kerryn: Indeed, it’s the insidious political nature of it that bugs me.

    Capri: well over 30. The idea is that we over 30s should congratulate ourselves for surviving without all these safety features. I think it’s just an excuse to go on about the good old days and push a political view as highlighted above by Kerryn.

  4. Eric B.

    My friend, on the other hand, did share a bottle (or cup, in this instance) and lost a couple of months of his life to mononucleosis.

    But, you’re welcome to disregard any safety notices you see fit. I will keep listening to the public health officials, regarding their advice when prudent and disregarding it when I have full knowledge that the benefits outweigh the risks.

  5. Eric: your friends are obviously flithy beasties. And your summary is perfect, listen then make an informed judgement

  6. Well for what its worth the reduction in serious injuries incurred while riding a bike after the introduction of helmets is most likely more due to the reduction in the number of cyclists rather than a reduction of serious injuries per cyclist. (see http://www.magma.ca/%7Eocbc/hfaq.html for evidence).

    Still it doesn’t help that cause to be lumped in with the rest of this fooolishness.

  7. Nathan: it’s certainly possible to argue statistics and cause and effect no end and you seem too intelligent to want to do that. We agree that the rest of it is absolute foolishness.

  8. I remember as a kid, telling my mom when my sister clawed the shit outta me. I got a whipping for being a ‘tattle tale’. The message I received from that is ‘suffer in silence, because asking for help with bring you more suffering.’ No way would I want to go back to those ‘good old days’.

  9. Yeah, punitive parental responses were not a big favourite of mine. I try to discourage my kids from being whiny but if one “tells on” the other for something legitimate I make sure the one who actually did something wrong is my focus. That “punish the tattletale” mentality (I was subjected to it too) is bullshit.

  10. Salaamat,
    i grew up in a “relaxed” environment, to put it mildly..and although i take necessary precautions I feel like I am a little more relaxed parenting wise than some people i know. I just think there is some sort of balance in there and sometimes people do lose their heads (both ways)…

    & i am NOT over 30 yet:) hee hee…

  11. and the newer versions… i am not 30 but there are version for 20agers, 15agers…. most of the points are weak others are “plus ou moins” acceptable

  12. Maliha: ouch, you didn’t have to point out I’m old

    issis: yes, you damn youngster always trying to cash in on the whining of older generations.

  13. Capri

    AT THIS VERY MOMENT, this thread is the number two post in all of WodPress. 8)

  14. Capri: I wish that counted for something! It doesn’t seem to drive any traffic. You always have posts there 🙂

  15. Capri

    Well you are getting traffic if your post is there. Forums post links to my blog because they can’t post pictures on their forum because of all their lawsuits. 👿 So they link to my site and others.

  16. Pingback: Thoughts, Raves and Outright Beatings… » Blog Archive » The curse of the Over 30′ds - a somewhat slight rebuttal

  17. Capri: I see… at least it gets your name out there 🙂 A couple of my posts have been on the WordPress page recently because of a lot of traffic from reddit (a lot for me anyway) but I don’t seem to get any additional traffic from the WordPress listing.

  18. Mr. Angry, I agree that these “well back in my day, what didn’t kill you made you stronger…” posts are politically motivated and designed to amass a chorus of nationalism against one thing or another…
    Saturday for me was spent in the emergency room because my 13 year old decided that he was too old for a cycle helmet. He crashed on his bicycle and split his lip, loosened 3 teeth and has asphalt burns and contusions…While I am dying to post his photo for the cyber community, he has learned a valuable lesson…a hard head makes a soft ass.

  19. Jersey, I agree. It’s all about moderation and applying intelligent judgement, not going all the way to an extreme.

  20. only one word for people of this generation, ‘paranoid’!

  21. But remember Mayang, if you’re not paranoid in today’s world you probably don’t appreciate the seriousness of the situation.

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