Teenagers are dumb, but you’d already know that if you were actually intelligent.
Two-thirds of Americans aged 13 to 17 years old didn’t know who Osama Bin Laden was prior to Sunday night’s bombshell news that the terrorist leader was killed by US Special Forces.
An analysis by Yahoo! Search Trends of who was searching for the phrase “Who is Osama Bin Laden” suggests that the generation raised during the so-called War on Terror did not know about the world’s most wanted man.
Anecdotal evidence supporting this conclusion includes screen grabs of young people on Facebook asking such questions as “Who is Osama Bin Laden and why should I care?”
The reaction to this information has been predictably hysterical. Why are young people so dumb? How could these 13- to 17-year-olds not know the most infamous man in modern history? Where are their parents? Why are their parents so dumb?
Sometimes I think sputtering outrage has replaced baseball as the national pastime.
Here’s the truth about the hasty conclusions being drawn from a survey of internet search terms: to be dumb is to be a teenager. Adolescents are dumb by their very nature. I was dumb at 15, you were dumb at 15, all 15-year-olds will be dumb, forever and ever, amen.
Teenagers are self-obsessed little fascists who can be viciously cruel and heartbreakingly vulnerable. This is a fact of life that doesn’t change. Yesterday’s teens passed notes in class; today’s teenagers text. But the messages are all the same: “Cathy is so fat. Do I look fat? Do you think Brad thinks I’m fat?” Me, me, me.
This isn’t really an insult to teens. Really, it isn’t. I’m not insulting you, sub-adults. You are acting your age. Adolescence is like one long awkward job interview with the world. You’ve got questions about what the world has to offer, and the world responds with bullsh!t. You don’t know what to expect from the world, or if the world is even telling you the truth. You don’t even know what to know. It’s confusing and frustrating and you’re slowly learning the first rule of survival. Always look after numero uno.
Many social critics blather about how modern high school students are narcissists. Those social media critics should look in the mirror and remember a time, possibly 60 years ago, when they were teenagers staring into the mirror. Teens stare into mirrors because A.) that’s about the best face you’ll ever get, and B.) it’s the only face you really trust at that point in your life.
The adults who are savaging young adults for being ignorant should be ashamed for ignoring their own past dumbness. Don’t tack out a comment either about how brilliant you were as an inelegant zit-faced mouth breather. You weren’t. You might think you were, but I promise you, you weren’t. You didn’t understand the world because you were a kid, so spare me your superior sneer.
The first sign of intelligence is acknowledging how dumb you really are. The second is forgiving other people for being as dumb as you are. The third sign of intelligence is remembering that a 15-year-old knows as much about the world as you did when you were 15, which is not nearly as much as you thought you did.
The only disturbing detail about this Yahoo! report is the number of teenagers who, apparently, use Yahoo! and don’t just go right to Wikipedia.
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