There were firings at the local newspaper, The Tennessean, yesterday, or contracts not renewed, depending on how you like your corporate-speak. My Facebook feed filled up with announcements of doom, predictions of the end of watchdog journalism and (visual: Samuel L. Jackson) FURIOUS ANGER in various comments sections.
Meanwhile on Music Row, a buyer will tear down an old studio that’d take a zillion dollars to bring up to code that the owner wants to sell anyway. Horror. They will put in something new, that is profitable, that people will be happy to enter and live and work in.
Speaking of music, well, that’s not going well, either. You know shit ain’t right if weird Al Yankovic or the venerable Tom Petty can have number one records with sales under 150,000 lousy units. As a veteran music biz executive once quipped to me, “I wouldn’t get out of bed for those numbers.” Music sales are declining, except for those crazy kids buying vinyl for the hell of it. Artists and songwriters are getting hoo-doo’d by streaming services. Ask one. Music is a commodity! Those kids! They’re paying money to go hear some DEEJAY in a mouse helmet, but they won’t pay for music. Those Spotify guys are getting rich on our backs!
Oh, and the movie industry is tanking, didja know? Steven Spielberg said so. This year’s summer box office is off 20% and would have been even worse if it weren’t for a talking raccoon and a monosyllabic walking tree.
The Internet is where old people go to hone outrage, and it’s full of them saying angry things. Every one of them boils down to: “Things ain’t what they used to be.”
I say, “Hal-le-fucking-lu-jah.”
Fogeyism is becoming a national disease. If I were 25, I would want to put everyone over 50 in a rocket ship and blast them into outer space, and take your Land Rover and stretched-out complexion and diabetes while you’re at it, thanks. You’re bringin’ me down. Even X’ers are getting pallid, flabby and whiny, moaning about the commercialized clickbait Internet. The end of days.
Here’s what I think. Things are better than they’ve ever been, and they’re getting better all the time.
You have any houseplants or live stuff in your flower beds out front? They’re instructive. Here’s how you can tell if plants are doing OK: you look for new growth— shoots of tender green, fresh leaves unfolding, blooms. If you see them, your plants are probably doing great.
Now, look around. Look at the pee-pul, the humanity. Every day you read that the Millennials are taking over. Because they are. They’re the biggest demographic since the Mad Men Boomers, and they’re growing, while the rest get old and die off.
You know what that is, right?
Kids. Gobbling up vapid pop songs and wearing Warby Parker. They’re not the future anymore; they’re the right now. If you think the world is getting shitty, you didn’t hear it from them. They’re too busy re-making it. GenX built the Internet and promptly broke themselves trying to get rich quick; Millennials missed that little frenzy, and now they ARE the Internet. They are not gloomy, they are not unhappy, they don’t hate anyone, they are not, best I can tell, complaining, except when they have to work late in the office when there’s a perfectly productive internet connection at home.
They don’t need Land Rovers, or feel failure for sharing a ride or not wearing Italian. They are consuming more music than ever (yay), making more music than ever (yay), making more entertaining shows (yay), getting together in droves (yay, but please save me a fucking parking space). They are revolutionizing healthcare, human interaction, entertainment, transportation. You may think, “Oh, but global warming, and ISIS.” Well, they’ll figure those out, too. They are figuring them out right now. Some forward-thinking old people are giving them money and help to do it, God bless ‘em: Bill and Elon and Larry and yes, Barack, wise and pragmatic beyond his years. There will be forest fires along the way, a burning out of the old growth. Good. All that wealth that’s been piled up can go to work. They’ll solve a lot of problems with it, and make some of their own, and the band will play on.
I choose to be optimistic. Yes, I hate to hear about people losing their gigs. I hate zealots cutting off people’s heads. I hate the gross inequality of opportunity for personal economic fulfillment and the systematic incarceration of an entire generation of young black men. I hate cat videos and pictures of your dog. And sometimes at night, I worry what’s going to happen, just like you. Yet I cannot believe things are getting worse for very long, because all I have to do is get up, look around, and as far as the eye can see, there they are, great gobs of green: vibrant, smart, horny young people with growing brains and functioning reproductive systems.
New growth. Hallelujah.