Monthly Archives: November 2013

The ADHD Generation

Introduction

So, there was this huge deal with ADD/ADHD as I was growing up (let’s say early 90s until 2000), and I knew a few kids who were super hyperactive, and they took medication that calmed them down somewhat.  Later in life, they seemed to be fine, but nonetheless, there was much controversy about too many kids misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD when they just genuinely required discipline.  Fast-forward fifteen years to 2013…

In an attempt to get in touch with the generation of kids ten to fifteen years younger than me, I became an active member of an online humour community.  I had already seen these “internet memes” become trend and receive publicity in the media, and even a South Park episode based on it.  But why is it so popular and what exactly is popular and why do they do this?  Without going into boring details, here’s what I found out about people born roughly between 1995 and 2005:

College Students Have the Right Idea

It would seem those born near 1995 (those entering college or already enrolled) seem to have a good grasp on social issues.  They know they are the next generation, and thirst for knowledge and wisdom.  They take notice of global socioeconomic and political issues and even start forming opinions other than those imposed on them by their parents and professors.  They also have held onto their childhood.  These guys grew up playing pokémon and Call of Duty and Halo and are used to phenomenal graphics, and missed the big internet boom of the late 90s, or, rather, were five or six years old when it happened, so they got the very best of the internet and learned how to properly make use of all the technology that the older generations were creating for them.

This makes them an effective work-force and their minds are sharp and they are keen on learning and on gathering information.  Perhaps the only downside is the slight generation gap they might be feeling.  They spent a lot of time on video games and internet in their youth, and that continues today.  I spent my fair share of course, but I didn’t have life-like graphics and online play to keep me glued to the TV/Computer for days at a time.  I had the feeling that at first meeting, they seemed very set in their ways and egoistic.  They had all the answers because they figured out how to use all that technology by themselves and didn’t need any new ideas from any older generations.  But after some intelligent chat, many of them opened up and some friendships even started to form.  The younger we get, the more these two opposites start to change places…

High School Students are Preoccupied and Unknowledgeable

My browser tells me that is not a word, but whatever.  High school kids are bombarded by the constant media, and have all the latest gadgets that their hard-working parents bought for them.  The high school teachers are much older and wiser, but often lack the necessary tools to get that wisdom and knowledge across to them.  It would seem that people in this age group are hyper-focused on their immediate surroundings/situation and unless something can appeal to them and keep them entertained for the next fifteen seconds, they’re going to ignore it.  I imagine most of them can sit in a 40-minute class period and tweet/check e-mail/facebook / play games on their smart-phones while still seeming to pay attention.  They might get engaged in some classroom participation for a few moments, but then trail off to whatever it is they are doing.

However, these bunch of “ADHD” kids are also hyper-productive.  They scour the internet for the latest buzz, and most often re-use all the “internet memes” (most often meaning pre-made images where they can enter their own text to give the reader a short chuckle) and post in various places.  These memes are often way over-used, and are making fun of something that has recently happened in the media.  Miley Cyrus did that “twerking” thing at the VMAs, and all of a sudden the internet was flooded with a bunch of posts making fun of her – in every way imaginable.  These ranged from incoherent “hey look, I also made something culturally relevant” to a short chuckle, at best.  But they seem to live for the instant gratification of getting a “like” or a comment on something they made.  Back in my day (now I sound old) we told jokes to each other in school, and waited until the next day in order to have the opportunity to talk again.  Of course good friends did sometimes call each other, but it wasn’t the norm.  Today’s high school students have had smart-phones and facebook and twitter since they were 10, so they’ve been utilising/over-using these technologies since then.

However, due to their mass use of all these social technologies, and the fact that these technologies haven’t really changed the last five years, these guys have basically migrated their social lives to completely online.  You wouldn’t believe the stories of people going out on dates, super socially awkward, and then the flood of posts in every conceivable online community about every single detail, utilising every available meme and method to make their online presence look as best/funny as possible.  A short example:

OMG MY DAD JUST PICKED ME UP FROM MY DATE WITH STEVE AND HE LOL’D SO HARD I THINK HE THINKS HES A GIRL BECAUSE HE HAS TITE JEENS AND GURLY FEATURES. #FML #YOLO #DADS

Yeah, that was pretty terrible.  And they really do just write run-on sentences in all-caps and hack up the English language.  But it’s SOOOO cool these days to convey how you are feeling by talking fast with no breaks and hash-tagging as “fuck my life” (FML) or make fun of your parents or whatever.  Like I said earlier, these guys are mega-ADHD and can’t even stop for one second.  And every generation of high-schoolers had their fair share of drama – they are still in their suburban plastic bubble and want to imitate what they see on TV, the movies, and in their parents’ lives.

But all this has made them generally unknowledgeable.  They don’t pay attention in class, and don’t have the patience to learn how to properly use the technology.  The just type away, hit “send”, and refresh the page until somebody comments or likes their post/content.  Before attempting to figure out how to use a new feature of a website they frequent, they either complain about it for a few weeks or write their more knowledgeable friends on how to do it.  It’s sad, but that’s what seems to be going on – and it gets worse as they get younger…

Twelve-Year-Olds Have Probably Seen More Porn than I Have…

That’s right.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of explicit pornographic material I’ve seen on some of these sites.  And the people who post them?  They’re twelve to fourteen years old.  There’s a huge masturbation culture – “fapping” it’s called (I assume due to the sound it makes).  In my day we all masturbated as well, but we sure as hell didn’t talk about it or share links to our favourite porn sites – what if our parents found out?  And at some point that was over and we started looking for relationships with real girls, and didn’t have to worry about what would be posted about us after we went on a date.  But ten to fourteen-year-olds should be holding hands and kissing, right?  Well that’s the funny thing – they would appear to have seen every kind of porn imaginable (I’ll get to that in a moment), and supposedly  jerk off all the time, leaving them little time for homework or outdoor activities, let alone any kind of pseudo-sexual advances toward real-life people.  This affects both boys and girls.

This might scare you, but there seems to be a huge trend toward really freaky sexual stuff – like boys fantasizing about sex with cartoon ponies rather than busty women.  The Japanese hentai and its sub-genres of weird octopus-sex, graphic nubile orgies and much, much more, seem to be commonplace.  People laugh about it online, and trade pics, and talk about which one they like to masturbate most often to.  I find this somewhat disturbing, but I have hopes that this early sexual peak might produce a less sexually-charged/fixated generation that might even turn out to be super-geniuses by the time they hit twenty.  Only time will tell…

Conclusion

What should we conclude?  Well, if you’ve ever talked to me or read a post I’ve written, you can gather that it will be some sort of Utopian hippie-bullshit answer.  Well, that’s exactly what it is!  I’ve already seen examples of teachers embracing this cringe-worthy culture in an attempt to gain their attention.  It seems to work somewhat – a lot of kids talk about how cool their teachers are and post pictures of their failed tests where the teacher has used memes like “Y U NO STUDY?” or “I don’t always fail my students, but when I do, I try to give them a second change (see me after class)”.  Will this work?  Maybe.  There has always been a rather large proportion of students who don’t succeed in school and go on to be the major work-force while their more diligent colleagues go on to earn big paychecks in science, engineering and business industries.

What can we do?  Talk to them – try to peak their interest.  Once in a while, one of the ADHD kids will post something about “wow!  have you ever put two mirrors face to face and looked inside?  #blewmymind #crazyshit #fuckingscience” and I reply with a long-winded and whimsical basic explanation of how light particles work, and how the human eye works, and at the end pose some deep philosophical questions about “is seeing really beliving?” and so on.  You wouldn’t belive the response!  A lot of them respond positively, saying things like, “wow, ur smart” or “yeah, my dad said something like that but I didn’t listen.  Very interesting….”  And I even get into some lengthier conversations about what they think about life thus far, and they ask questions about my life, and I try to encourage them to take time from their online lives and contemplate the universe (in a crafty way, of course).

Each person can find his/her way to accomplish this, but I think it very necessary.  These are the ones who will be going to Mars – not us.  Of course we’re not all gone, yet, and still need to pursue our individual goals and make the world a better place, but if we can get the younger ones to think about life at that age, then probably a lot of the current problems will start melting: the entertainment industry will be forced to make better, more socially and intellectually engaging films/albums, and every business can stop sinking billions of dollars and hours into social media shit and concentrate on producing great products for a better society.

DJs, Drum Circles and Dubstep

I read this article and then came up with this rant.  Enjoy…

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/arts-entertainment/dj-talks-about-his-work-as-if-it-has-artistic-merit-2013110780992

well, that is indeed disc jockeys have been doing since their inception during the radio boom. Of course personality played a huge role until radio’s decline in recent years (they still try, of course – god bless ’em). And of course these dudes who sit behind various devices for 6 hours while people spend way too much money on drugs and alcohol and “dance” and try to get laid can vary wildly. On one end, we have dudes with a WinAmp or iToons playlist and try to dance a round and pretend to do shit. On the other, we have true performance artists and musicians who combine live-played synthesizer, electronic drums and vocals with pre-recoreded bits. Of course key tools in the arsenal of any live disc jockey would be the mixing board and simple effects/filters. In order to keep a party going, the disk jockey or “master of ceremonies” (MC or emcee) has to make sure the transitions between songs doesn’t interrupt the flow of the evening. And they have to look for similarities in songs so that the vibe is kept up all night. Some play a bunch of genre songs with a “disco beat” over the top, while others select pre-recorded elements and combine them as they see fit. In any event, the live element of any disc jockey truly more in a directorial capacity when it is compared to something that any traditional “musician” would do on a stage. HOWEVER, I would like to think/assume that there exists decent disc jockeys out there who know their harmony: the circle of fifths, the overtone series, binaural vs. monaural, how certain frequencies affect human hearing at certain sound pressure levels. But there you have it! As long as there are people who enjoy dancing to mostly tonally monotonous, driving 4/4 beats for hours on end while plastered off their tits, we will have live disc jockeys. As long as those disc jockeys exist, we will have people producing electronic music for said mass consumption. And as long as we have that, we will continue to have musicians who will try (and most of them will fail) to write, record and perform their own tunes. Perhaps in the future there will be more electronic composers as traditional ones. Some keen minds have even alluded to this: Frank Zappa, John Cage, John Lennon, and I’m sure a host of others I’ve forgotten at this late hour.

If we look at the history and evolution of music, we can see a relatively clear picture. While some may argue that music came out of need for communication (evolving from verbal language/bodily communication and the predecessor of spoken language), others might argue that music evolved after spoken language, as a way for humans to relax, philosophise, and enjoy the world around them free from the bonds of theoretical structures such as language and mathematics. Regardless of which magazine you subscribe to, most agree that early music was very rhythmic and social. While many early musicians probably started practicing their instrument, rehearsing between performances and slowly creating rules and methodologies to be able to more effectively communicate through music, it wasn’t until WAY later that music first started becoming more personalised and egoistic. Fast-forward to the feudal ages, where a few wealthy intellectuals ruled over the masses of illiterate, sickly peasants. Here we see a clear-cut definition that still holds true today (although the lines become increasinly blurred). We have skillful minstrels hired to soothe royalty and stroke their egos. A sign of a cultured and wealthy lord was his ability to hire the best musicians as well as having an ear for what is to be considered “good” music. Then there were the peasants who used music as an both escape from peasant life and as a way to communicate through the generations. Actually, we saw some of this in the times of the ancient empires as well. However, the ancient Greek and Roman “peasants” had a considerably higher-quality life than that of the pre-renaissance peasants. Music, theatre, and indeed all artforms were considered important for society and for the human psyche/soul/spirit/animus. Of course the human ego took over in all aspects of life and led to the eventual downfall of this society.

So, we’re back in the dark ages. We have music as the ego-centric and cultured art-form for the aristocracy, as well as communication and escape for the masses. Perhaps the lines got blurred during the renaissance, and as a renewed interest in mathematics, physics and natural sciences sprouted up, so did the general interest in music and the arts. This cycle would continue for the next few centuries until the advent of recording technology. Once people started being able to move around more freely, the exchange of global knowledge became of the greatest importance. This time around, the aristocracy knew it would be best to play along, and close the gap between them and John Everyman. Governments started forming, and the people were treated to free or inexpensive concerts, operas, plays and soon, silent theatre. Literacy went up in the Western world, so the need for music as a communication tool went down. A few Western pioneers travelled the world recording the various musical traditions (as well as all forms of culture) and brought them back to the West.

For the sake of time, we’ll fast-forward to just after WWI. Hoardes of Europeans pour into the USA in search of the all-elusive “freedom” and the chance at becoming part of something great and new. Hollywood is born and thrives, the Jazz scene starts up, and we find ourselves back at the beginning of music history, perhaps. There are no longer government-sanctioned pieces written by sons of rich lords – we have a world music and art culture (albeit mostly Western) that have all found themselves being led by the Africans who now found their home in the US (and no longer as slaves!) The origins of man take the reigns and just play whatever, whenever. It doesn’t really matter why – they just get up on a stage in a smoky bar, play on the street, on their back porch, while riding a boxcar across the country. And the rest of the Western world followed suit. The industrial revolution brought on a small, albeit important renaissance that would revive 18th and 19th century philosophy and mathematics, and the “rules of music” started being broken, re-written, if you will. In essence, we have members of the new Western global tribe leading their fellow man, as well as the chieftains, in song and dance – for no other reason than “it just feels good.”

Fast-forward a few decades, and we now have radical new forms of popular music emerging: bebop, swing, rock ‘n roll, bluegrass, and soon acid, psychedelic, rock, singer-songwriter…. The powers that be took the lead of Hollywood and really got the Western music “business” up and running before 1970. Now all of a sudden we have schools to teach you how to play, write, perform, record, produce and sell music to the masses. Don McClean alluded to “the day the music died” as the day music no longer became “for the people, by the people” and started becoming a commodity in which the greatest nations of the eartch traded and compared themselves. We saw how that turned out in feudal times, but hey – at least we got the Beatles, Jimmi, Led Zep, Doors and a whole host of others from it.

Fast-forward to the 1990s – now the industry is “gettin’ me down” (Lordy sen’ ‘dat ‘ol chariot for cummin’ t’take me hooooome). While there is no longer any governing power or slave-driver against whom to protest, the new role of music is for the individual. We need to feel special, different, and need to have deep personal convictions. We also like to further this with a very niche musical taste. “I like modern rock, but the grunge scene is really picking up.” “Post-modern grunge is OK, but the neo-psychedelic elements just aren’t my thing.” “Track 10 is good, but #11 sounds too over-produced”

THis is all well and good, but we’ve strayed somehow from the earthy, “it feels good – let’s do it” humble beginnings of music. Or, rather, we have been divided into two camps again. We now have the music elitists who prefer musical analysis to “getting down with the funk” or “chasing the a-train and boogie-woogie-ing all night long”.

This is where it gets subjective. I personally believe that at the end of the 1990s, the two camps became so firmly defined, that there is no way back in the foreseeable future. On the one hand, the charts have been filled with easy-to-digest “people’s music” that incorporates everything we’ve learned about “good” music throughout the ages, and whose main purpose is to allow the listener to have a good time, move their body (shake your baaaahdaaay), and just let loose after a boring, blue-collar day. Then there are the few bands who survived from the 60s/70s super-creative heyday, and the various sub-genres and sound-a-like bands they produced. There are huge markets in both, and they both survive. It’s extremely difficult to get top-10 producers and writers to write and produce a pop-record featuring your vocals/dancing, as it is equally as hard to find some decent musicians with whom you can traverse the sonic landscapes of the innermost depths of human emotion. Micro-trends are seen, and genre popularity rises and falls quickly (from boy-band to diva in just three short years).

And then it happened.

The terrible electronic music of the 1980s combined with the groovy dance-driven funk, soul and disco of the 50s 60s and 70s combined into the future of music: techno/electro/minimal/DJ/club/euro/insertphrasehere/dubstep/whatever music. It seems to have single-handedly re-united people from all walks of life, niches, and genre-followers. Every band has to have some elecronic parts in it these days. Everyone is a “producer” (yeah, I can use FrootyLoops and ProTools on my FagBook) and even the hardest of hardcore fans goes to clubs and discoteques and shits themselves when the “bass drops” *throws up a little in mouth*

I guess it’s good… I mean – we’re back where we started all those years ago in Africa or wherever the hell we’re from. Is it OK for me to absolutely hate this shit? YES!!! Is it OK for the once hardcore punkers and skankers to fall head-over-heels for this shit? YES!!! But we can’t go pointing fingers or labeling people/genres. That is the next stage of human evolution: the true convergance of the self (id, ego) with the populous. It is totally OK to like/dislike something. Some feel best when they fit in, others like to be different – but we’re all in this wacky amusement park called “reality” together, so we’d better start enjoying ourselves while we can.

Moral of the Story? I dunno. I guess – just think before you criticise others’ musical “tastes”. And whenever things become unclear, just sit back, relax, throw on some Pink Floyd or Ke$ha or JBiebs or Skrilex or T.Rex, and just travel the universe in your mind, where it all begins and ends anyways.