School for the Agonisingly Well-Informed
January 25, 2022 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Australian university teacher Tegan Bennett Daylight on student mental health issues: "....20-something student Tom Paech described his generation as being “agonisingly well-informed” – a perfect phrase to describe young people who have “no means of remedying the situation, like the captain of a sinking ship who knows exactly where the hole is in the hull but has no way of plugging it”. Note his use of the word “captain”, which I know was partially unintentional. These young people don’t just feel like the crew on a sinking ship. They feel like they’re the captain, which suggests they are helplessly responsible while the ship goes down."
posted by MiraK (39 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm torn between feeling pity and awe for the younger generations. I don't know if they have what it will take to withstand the horrors of the next few decades, but I sure as hell don't.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:48 AM on January 25 [17 favorites]


"My students are infinitely kinder and more tolerant of one another than we were." I hope that this is true.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:53 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


I have felt this way my whole life.
posted by bleep at 8:04 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


helplessly responsible while the ship goes down

Yeah, I must say, that pretty much sums it up for me at 44.
posted by ducky l'orange at 8:25 AM on January 25 [24 favorites]


I'm 61, and this sums it up for me too. I expect that younger people will get very angry at my generation when the full extent of the climate horror becomes known.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 8:27 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


With Gen X was in college, they were just starting to figure out how to screw younger generations with permanent student loan debt, increasing tax burdens on the lower classes, and ramping up climate change denialism. Now, it's been perfected. Kids these days are getting screwed harder and more cynically than possibly any single generation in a century.

The smart ones know it, and they're right to be angry.
posted by tclark at 8:31 AM on January 25 [38 favorites]


I found it interesting that she calls some portion of young adult anxiety "age-appropriate".
posted by clawsoon at 8:40 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


This article is not about the hyper-sensitivity towards certain words or phrases youngsters have these days, but I'd say that "cancel culture" is indicative of a deep reservoir of kindness the author mentions, one of the finest reactions this new generation could have to being born into an apparently doomed civilization.
posted by kozad at 9:04 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


I often think of the original Lost Generation, the young people of the 1920s. They'd also seen the breakdown of the civilized world and all the promises they heard as children. They'd been through hell, including a pandemic, and they were about to go through more: the Depression with its privation, the Second World War with its losses and racism and rationed resources.

I do not say this in order to say "they turned out fine." They largely did not. Spanish flu, suicide, alcoholism (and poisoned alcohol), violence: a lot of them died younger than they should have. The ones who didn't often carried generational trauma that fills family lives even now. Then, too, the grownups of the first Lost Generation had certainties that this one doesn't have -- the certainty that there would still be a United States, for one thing, and a Miami, and snow in the winter, and doctors at the hospital.

There's no moral to the story here. It's not important that they threw good parties and had good music and told good jokes. (They did, of course, but not many people got to go to those parties.) The hope is simply in that they lived, they survived, and human history went on after them, even though it was nothing like the history that anyone anticipated when they were born.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:05 AM on January 25 [39 favorites]


The hope is simply in that they lived, they survived, and human history went on after them

But to what end?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:20 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


That being said I am kind of struggling with needing to be connected to this shit all the time. You can only quit something you want to quit, y know.
posted by bleep at 9:23 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]



The hope is simply in that they lived, they survived, and human history went on after them

But to what end?


We may be finding out.
posted by notoriety public at 9:31 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]



I found it interesting that she calls some portion of young adult anxiety "age-appropriate".


I've certainly never known a more trying time than my early so-called adulthood -- age about eighteen through twenty-two, the last two of those years in particular. I've never been more messed up psychologically/emotionally than I was in my early twenties. No longer living at home with family, having to make a proper living for the first time in my life, a pile of reality landing hard on various illusions as to what life really was, and what it required of me.

I don't know how this can be avoided. There's certainly nothing mentally healthy about getting past your mid-twenties with your childhood illusions still intact. Not for you. Not for your family and friends. Not for the world.

A few weeks I spent in Heidelberg, Germany a few decades back comes to mind. I was in my early thirties by then but for various reasons found myself slumming in a house full of university students. They were all in the same program, all studying music therapy, and one of the program's requirements was that they have a therapist who they'd meet with at least once a week.

I remember thinking:

A. sounds about right for Germany (how could you not need therapy having had parents/grandparents etc who'd either been Nazis or supported the Nazis or were victimized by them?) but also,

B. it would have been so helpful to younger me to have been required to do the same, to meet once a week with a not particularly invested third party and talk through my confusion etc.

The flip of all this is that I did make it through those years without ever seeing or getting any professional help but rather stumbled clumsily along, taking guidance from some fairly random situations, like the Who song ...

"Statements to a stranger
Just asking for directions
Turn from being help to being questions."

And if I hadn't done that, I wouldn't be who I am now, and I kind of like this person. I've said this before around here, I'm sure I'll say it again. We (as individuals, as a culture) need to get way better at being confused. It's inevitable. It's unavoidable. There is no functional adult who hasn't, on some level, figured out how to do it.
posted by philip-random at 9:35 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


But to what end?

I guess we are compelled to ask a question that no person is equipped to answer.. there are days I think we've approached a point in history where, at the very least, we are documenting things in more ways than ever (from all the ways we share what we think and feel and observe others' narratives) to the assortments of research across fields and all the data produced.. sure, to what end.. but we just don't know that it all comes to grief, utopia, who knows? Or buy into the line of thinking that we are the anomaly, the blip that never really mattered in the Great Scheme of Things. We're here, that's either the problem or just a statement of fact, and we each do whatever we do with that.
posted by elkevelvet at 9:37 AM on January 25


I do think that much of the stress my children and my students experience is because of the phones they carry with them.

In the corner of the room where I am writing this is a cane propped against the wall that belonged to my great-3x-grandfather, born in Cork Ireland in 1829. Between the ages of 16 and 20, he lived through the very worst of the Great Hunger - I just looked up the impact of the famine on the city of Cork and found the following article:

A succession of Irish, British and American fact-finding visitors to West Cork [during the peak of the famine] noted the absence of children’s games, the abandonment of funerary customs, the defilement and dismemberment of unburied bodies by vermin and dogs, the ubiquity of coffins, and mass graves, in effect social abnormality, whole communities in disarray.

Their testimony was corroborated in newspaper reportage and commentary. In mid-December 1846, a special correspondent of the Cork Examiner reported that the most extraordinary feature of the prevailing distress in the Skibbereen district was “the total apathy and singular indifference” with which death was regarded.

He claimed that the better feelings and sympathies that formerly characterised the Irish people had disappeared, and their familiarity with death had rendered them indifferent to its ravages.


My great-grandfather (born 1880s, died 1960s) knew this man as a young boy, and told my father that his ancestor was a deeply religious man who outlived three wives and some of his own children. We don't have any direct quotes or stories from him, so what I wouldn't give for ten minutes to chat with him to see what he thought of living through something like the Famine at such a formative age.

What I am sure wouldn't have helped his mental state was a buzzing device in his pocket giving him daily updates on the numbers of dead in his village, county, and country every day, directives from the local farmers on exactly how many tonnes of potatoes were spoiled by blight, and a bunch of anonymous strangers arguing passionately over who was responsible for the famine and which people, specifically, deserved to starve to death as a result, and just how damn awful the whole thing was.
posted by fortitude25 at 9:37 AM on January 25 [36 favorites]


What I am sure wouldn't have helped his mental state was a buzzing device in his pocket giving him daily updates on the numbers of dead in his village, county, and country every day, directives from the local farmers on exactly how many tonnes of potatoes were spoiled by blight, and a bunch of anonymous strangers arguing passionately over who was responsible for the famine and which people, specifically, deserved to starve to death as a result, and just how damn awful the whole thing was.

Exactly. Are we really "agonizingly well-informed" because we are constantly bombarded with updates on the very worst things happening around the world? I'd argue that we're not. That concentrated IV drip of bad news is actually distorted and toxic, not helpful.

I often look at the NY Times front page these days and am struck at what a bleak picture it paints. And I think about all that information that's missing: about people doing slow, steady, quiet work to build up their communities, strengthen democracy, bridge divides, save lives, clean up the planet, advance equality, teach the young, increase scientific knowledge, etc., etc., etc.

We have trapped ourselves in a dysfunctional, mentally hazardous information ecosystem. Fixing that is one of our biggest current challenges. But it's hard even to see the nature and scale of the problem. Still, I believe it's solvable.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:52 AM on January 25 [12 favorites]


A helpful buzzing device that told me exactly what was happening and why, how to leave & where to go? I think my ancestors would have taken that deal.
posted by bleep at 9:53 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


A buzzing device that would keep me sane with instant access to the largest library in the world? All the movies, all the music, all the art in the world at my fingertips? The ability to talk to anybody in the world in an instant, for free? The latest science on how to deal with the current problem? All that, if only I figured out, like, 5 things not to do that would turn it into a toxic insanity machine? Yeah, I'd hope anybody would have taken that deal, and then also figured out those 5 things. Oh well.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 10:08 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


My dad used to say - think of a deer in the woods, who has evolved senses that allow it to perceive most dangers that it will directly face without overwhelming it. Now take that deer’s same senses, smell and hearing and sight and so forth, and expand them to a hundred-mile radius. It would be absolutely paralyzed. That level of input would both cripple it and prevent it from perceiving the most relevant and imminent threats. And that’s all of us all the time now.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:13 AM on January 25 [46 favorites]


There is no functional adult who hasn't, on some level, figured out how to do it.

Dunno. I mean, yeah, but also, it feels like what used to be 'functional' & 'doing it' has become unignorably rattling apart for me. I couldn't begin to tell you how much of that is the state of the world, or the habits & patterns which got me this far being incomplete & I've just managed to outrace that by my fingertips until now, or if it's what I've seen other people describe where age & pandemic combine to wear down masking capacity (that I'm willing to admit thinking of this in terms of 'masking' might possibly say something, but I really can't entertain that too heavily at the indefinite moment), or...

On many fronts, I'm still very lucky. I went to school when my local school shooting was seen as a weird and horrifying outlier, rather than the trickle before the normalized wave. I managed to fix my target on something with job prospects & successfully surfed the "community college to 4-year degree" plan when so many people around me didn't. Hell, my siblings didn't manage to thread that needle without getting thrown off. And there's no way I can say I was better or more functional in any sense, just that I managed to keep burning forward long enough to reach the next rung.

And since then it's been a lot of that. I've managed to, with some slipping here & there, keep reaching the next rung by my fingertips. I can see how much worse it could have been, & has been for those who're coming up behind as each of those rings gets further apart & harder to hit.
But also I'm at a spot where the important thing seems to be securing my grip, to continue the metaphor, but I don't know how to do that & I'm worried I'm not going to be able to hold on & I can't stop to figure it out either so I need to figure this out while holding on.

Am I functional? Well, I made it this far. And that can't be overlooked. But now I'm forcing myself to try and address some portion of those things I kept outracing, and I'm missing a lot of those lessons in "where would I even start?", and I skipped past that time when there's some social expectation that people can 'figure things out', and it feels like I'm running out of on-ramp to figure all this out.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:14 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


But to what end?

Hon there's never been an "end"; we're just monkeys in shoes. We survive unless we die, and eventually we all die. We don't survive because something or in order to something.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:21 AM on January 25 [25 favorites]


I think my ancestors would have taken that deal.

I wouldn't give that to my ancestors, because cell reception was terrible in the past.

Stick with the sports almanac.
posted by FJT at 10:32 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


I think it's a bit hypocritical to say these kids are too well-informed when in the opposite situation they'd probably be ridiculed for spending too much time using social media / playing video games / or being lazy and not taking it upon themselves to be responsible. If anything, my take on the phrase "agonizingly well-informed" is that they've been betrayed by their own maturity--their reward for doing the "right thing" and paying attention to the world outside their childhood is to bear the crushing guilt of knowing that the world absolutely sucks, there's nothing they can do about it, and it will soon be their responsibility to somehow eke out a life in it.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:49 AM on January 25 [13 favorites]


Brings to mind some lyrics from one of my favorite zoomer songs:
A few dead, more gone; the rest well on their way
So everyone that I love is stuck
Because this, that, the other, and the state fucked up
We covered it in a class that I'm about to fail
posted by wesleyac at 11:43 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


exactly where the hole is in the hull but has no way of plugging it”. Note his use of the word “captain”, which I know was partially unintentional. These young people don’t just feel like the crew on a sinking ship. They feel like they’re the captain, which suggests they are helplessly responsible while the ship goes down."

I feel like this describes my job in a nutshell. Maybe just life in a nutshell. I know what the problems are but dear god, I can't be the one who fixes it, those who could won't, and meanwhile I'm the one who's helplessly responsible or at least going to get the blame for it anyway. If I feel like that these days, well, who doesn't. You can only take care of you, self care, blah blah blah. The institutions won't save you, all you can do is just keep swimming and if you can't swim, you drown. No wonder we all have anxiety.

I also note that when I actually got evaluated for mental health this year (and let me tell you, pretty much everyone who meets me thinks I probably have something, they just debate over which ones) I was told I was "subclinical" because I wasn't badly off enough and still functioning, and all I got was a free subscription to the Calm app for my troubles. (I mean, it's nice, but it still didn't put me to sleep somehow...) So I guess if these kids ARE bad off enough to get diagnoses...There's an awful lot of drama going on these days, with kids/teens/young adults/everyone really. I guess the young ones still think they can get help from adults somewhere, but the older you get, the more you realize you are on your own with the sinking and the swimming. There's no pyramid of people to support you up to the top. Probably because all those people are too busy sinking too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:24 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]


think of a deer in the woods, who has evolved senses that allow it to perceive most dangers that it will directly face

Sure, but "most" and "directly" are doing a lot of work in this analogy. A deer's evolved senses do measurably little against a hunter in a deer blind with a rifle, and catastrophically less against an apex predator who fundamentally alters the surrounding environment such that too many baby deer can be born leading inevitably to mass starvation and disease unless those predators develop a system of population control that puts hunters in deer blinds with rifles. Not that the deer can do anything about it, but we should expect (and encourage, imo) humans to feel at least some potential agency over human-created problems.
posted by radiogreentea at 1:19 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


> A deer's evolved senses do measurably little against a hunter in a deer blind with a rifle,

I think the point of the article is that even though a deer's evolved senses would do little against a hunter, incessant pings on a deer's phone giving the deer minute to minute statistics about aggregate hunter activity across the globe - and the deer's consequent state of perpetual hunter anxiety - would do even less.
posted by MiraK at 1:47 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


but we should expect (and encourage, imo) humans to feel at least some potential agency over human-created problems.

Humans can't actually feel agency over every problem currently taking place everywhere around the globe 24/7. But that's the amount of information we get.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:03 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


I am a precariously employed uni lecturer and my kid is in highschool. Even without the news, my kid has to respond to things like "okay the government hasn't ordered a lockdown but our family includes a high risk paramedic and a childcare worker, and both of us are at higher risk for sequelae so we are locking down" and "school isn't going back yet" and "where's your mask" and "grandma's property floods more" and "mama has another migraine". My kid can tell the climate change fuckery, because who can ignore the increasing fire and flood?

And then there are my students. The ones who are doing media analysis courses and the wannabe journalists strung between "getting a job" and "it's capitalist exploitation all the way down". Who can see the manipulation at the core of our entire media and information landscape and know their own lack of power. While still negotiating an extension for the weekend because their family has covid or everyone lost their job and they are the only one earning money or they work in healthcare and after the last round of customer abuse just cannot deal. I hand out extensions like candy, offer them for anything and everything, blanket ones when we get another surge. I email all the support links I can find.

I do this while writing a book about useless things. Two of them actually. And hoping I can get a real job so I can give my kid some stability, and do more mutual aid. I currently make lunch boxes and meals for the paramedic - she worked 12/13 days this round, with a 16 hour shift overnight, so we clean the kitchen when we visit too. Because she is living separately now, to try and minimise the eventual infection (that may kill her given she is high risk) so we don't get it. I thank all the small gods that I have a car, I can order delivery, that our partner is going back to work except he isn't fully healed from a bad leg break and it's in childcare so it's just a matter of time.

But I am still running on decisions I made when I was young and the myriad ways it worked out - the degree I got, the work I did, the marriage and the house and subsequent divorce and buy out. Decisions my kid isn't likely to be able to make because who knows if the government will keep on the neoliberal project of fucking up higher ed, and houses aren't gonna be more affordable any time soon and the kid is gay so I know the stats on that too, and also my parents have become anti-vaxxers so that's gonna be a whole thing.

It's a fucking mess.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:46 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


We survive unless we die, and eventually we all die. We don't survive because something or in order to something.
If that's true then maybe it is better that the planet goes on without us.
posted by krisjohn at 2:48 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


If that's true then maybe it is better that the planet goes on without us.

I... don't think a person gets to decide this on everyone and everything else's behalf.

(I'm having a weird flashback to a conversation I once had with my daughter when she was 6 and she was screaming that everyone should wear pink.)
posted by MiraK at 5:52 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Good article, thanks for sharing.

The following is not completely accurate, but is a personal framing - hack at it please:

We're in year 3 of a pandemic
Which followed some of the more significant years in climate in recent memory (Australian and other big wildfires, multi-billion dollar storms, etc.)
Which followed intense economic activity
Which followed an economic nose-dive
Which was precipitated in part by fluctuating greenhouse gas emitting petroleum prices
Which was aided by unnecessary war in the petroleum rich middle east
Which was triggered by an attack on what many (probably not a majority, but a significant few) considered a cornerstone of the global economy
Which followed the questionable election of a relatively novice world leader
Which followed a decade of hope (for some, not all in the slightest)
Which followed several decades of weapons building
Which followed a baby/population boom
Which followed a second world war
Which followed an economic depression
Which followed an economic boom
Which followed a pandemic and first world war
Which followed an industrial revolution
Which followed the general (not complete nor sudden) conclusion of transatlantic slave trading
Which was an accessory to the colonization of lands by the Europeans that were not theirs to begin with
Which followed, from what I understand, some miserable centuries in Europe
Years which were pushed through with the help of the silk roads and Asia's general economic rule (from what I gather)
Which surrounded or were aided by transformations in various religious belief in the midst of the sufferings of those times
Which... well, I can only reach so far with any accuracy

It's a pile. I was born onto it, and stand on it whether I want to or not. I do what I can.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:41 PM on January 25 [9 favorites]


What is very apparent is that technology is not being kind to anyone. Your life, your emotions, your needs, and much more... are not part of an algorithm. The clamor for your attention makes you THINK that things are important to you and that you should be concerned, interested, and aware.

People are amazed that I have not had a TV (cable/satellite etc) for 20+ years. When you step back like I have and look at the 'news' you quickly realize that the presentation of information is heavily loaded with anxiety inducing content. The majority of information presented is something over which you have ZERO control and/or is of little consequence/benefit/impact to you but you are made to believe that you should be concerned.

The shell game of life has been given a makeover but... it is very apparent that the majority of politicians do not care, companies you work for do not care, most of what you are trying to achieve is of little use or benefit. You strike up a brave face and put your nose to the grindstone. For what? You are told that getting an 'education' is important and necessary so you suck it up along with the huge negative impact of debt. You are told it is important to buy things - a home, that shiny new 'something', the latest gadget... whatever. You are told that you need to have a good credit score and are hit with ridiculous charges and fees just to keep up. Keep up with what exactly?

All of it seems wonderful until you hit 40 and suddenly companies no longer want you despite the wealth of experience and knowledge you have. You want to grow and expand but in order to do so you get a second job which eats up your spare time.

It is a shell game which is heavily loaded against you and intended to be so for the profit of a few.

Mrs. Underpants and I stopped playing the game a few years ago. It was tough. We cleared off our debt - a GREAT feeling. We don't 'do' retail - most products sold are of such dubious quality and grossly overpriced that we do not miss it at all. We stopped being concerned about things which did not directly influence or impact us. We are immensely happier now. We focus on the simple things in life and it is truly great. Do I really need a bigger, better, brighter shinier thing? Probably yes but I get it when I pay for it outright.

Think on this for a while. You as an individual, despite what you are told, are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Why waste your precious time on earth being concerned that [insert celebrity\political furor\disease\disaster\weather\whatever here] is happening.

Get over it. Seriously, get over it. And I do not mean do not care. Care for those close to you. Care only for the things that are important and relevant to you.
posted by IndelibleUnderpants at 8:41 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


This article feels so much like the moral and psychological trajectory of my own life that it makes me uncomfortable. I like to flatter myself that I’m absorbing some of the kindness I, too, can see in younger generations. I know I’m betraying a tradition going back beyond recorded history, but there’s just so much more to be positive about among the youth than the elders at this moment. It makes me feel like we’ve got a chance at building a better world, you know… after.

Incidentally, thanks to early 80s Doctor Who, “Tegan” is still the canonical Australian woman’s name in my brain. Yes, that’s a stupid digression, but at this point stuff like that is like a teeny little vacation from bleak contemplation of All This.
posted by gelfin at 9:34 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


If that's true then maybe it is better that the planet goes on without us.

Actually if you take my statement as true...it literally doesn't matter one way or the other, does it?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:42 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


When you step back like I have and look at the 'news' you quickly realize that the presentation of information is heavily loaded with anxiety inducing content. The majority of information presented is something over which you have ZERO control and/or is of little consequence/benefit/impact to you but you are made to believe that you should be concerned.

It's really true. Of course this may be obvious to us when we look at more tabloidy, sensationalistic news sources... but upscale news aimed at educated people plays the same game, just in a way that's coded for the class of news consumers it's targeting.

I haven't totally disconnected from news -- nor do I want to -- but I've lessened my consumption of it, and I've definitely begun to adopt more of an arm's-length mental and emotional attitude towards it.

When I encounter a seemingly troubling headline, I increasingly ask myself questions like:

- Is this story likely to actually tell me anything important that I don't already know, or does it seem more like a remix of familiar tropes and anxieties, with just a smattering of new information?

- Is the information this story contains likely to affect my life directly (other than making me more depressed and/or anxious and/or angry)?

- Is there likely to be anything I can or should do about it, that I'm not already doing?

- If not, is there something better to which I can devote the time and attention I'd otherwise spend on this?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:42 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


No wonder we all have anxiety.

Not sure it's fair to call what I have "anxiety"; closer would be "chronic frustrated helpless rage". It's been building steadily since Tony Abbott became Prime Minister and the clown car that's put itself in charge of running the world since roughly then is not helping.
posted by flabdablet at 2:14 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


For me, I think it was the 2016 ejection that was the wake up call. I stepped back from reading about (or even caring too much about) national politics, when earlier i had followed it obsessively. I stepped back from trying to remain informed about and connected to all the things I had no control over. I'm not fooling myself that these things won't affect me: they will! Just like any earthquake or tornado I have no control over will hit me whether or not I track seismic activity and Doppler radars obsessively.

In place of all that, I took control in every way I could. I got involved in local political work and community organizing for many months, but that made me fucking miserable because I felt stymied at every turn - even local politics was too far out of my reach because I lacked the necessary training and grounding. And I was miserable from running around doing this while working a full time job, raising two small children, and starting a divorce. I couldn't manage it all.

I quit and aimed even smaller. Got started volunteering on crisis text line and I'm still there today, two hours every week. A couple of years later after the chaos of divorce had settled down I added more onto my plate: Big Sister and taking the kids over to the food bank every other weekend for 2 hours. It feels like THIS much is in my control, the ability to make this minute contribution to the world, steadily, week after week. Maybe once my kids are grown I'll take a crack at local politics again. But right now I can't, so I disconnect from all that I cannot do in order to be capable of doing something that I can do.

In stark contrast to the Bush years and even the Obama years, my anxiety levels have dropped hugely during the Trump and Biden years. Isn't that a doozy!

I think the key is to accept that right now, given the rest of my life, I am NOT the captain of the ship. Someday perhaps I will be. But I'm not the captain now, and that's ok.
posted by MiraK at 3:27 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


Young people I encounter know less, if anything, about recent history than they seemed to years ago, and I don't think, overall, they're particularly tuned into current concerns and events. I can say that for (upper-)middle class white kids in the heartland suburbs, and I can say that for poor kids of color on the edge of nowhere.

My (completely) antedoctal experience with teens and young adults is that a minority of them are very well informed and passionate about their chosen issues; they're the ones that get the attention. But the majority of kids seem to be very disengaged from anything that seems confrontational or "political". They're basically tolerant and nice kids, but I sometimes wonder how much of that is due to conviction or principle and how much is due to the wish to avoid confrontation.
posted by fortitude25 at 8:03 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


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