I think its safe to say that I've reached that age in life where I have accepted the fact that I am officially old. I mean early-30s isn't exactly "old" in age, it's just old for 2015. I don't understand this new generation. I don't like how they operate. I haven't figured out their methods. Millennials bother the living hell out of me.
Another sign that I'm old? I start using phrases that I would often laugh at when old folks in my formative years would say them, like "back in my day", "when I was your age", "what you know about?", and "young buck". I had to catch my self before I called a kid a "whipper snapper". That's the moment that I realized how grateful I am to have been conceived in the 80's. I was blessed to be raised in the 90's, and I am currently being punished by having live through the first part of the 21st century.
I was raised in a time where where life was enjoyable without having to have somebody dictating to me that I was supposed to be entertained. I was able to watch professional sports without having to feel like the joke was on me. I could appreciate the games of many and pick sides without being called a hater. The Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees were actually relevant, and boxing and baseball were still in their primes. Greatness was obvious, not force-fed. ESPN actually focused on sports. Television sitcoms were substantive and more life-like than any "reality" show of today. TV families, like the Winslow's, like the Banks', like the Huxtable's, were whole and prosperous, and even those who struggled were rich with values. Today, we celebrate the "Single Ladies", idolize the "Housewives", and emulate the "Teen Moms" and the "Love-less". Fame didn't require cooning, selling out, or prostituting your souls for fifteen minutes of fame. There wasn't a purposeful campaign to separate meaning and message from entertainment.
Even amongst the routine Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup binge watching and the 2-button Nintendo battles, we still found time to to take our narrow behinds outside. That's right... we actually played OUTSIDE. We set up makeshift basketball courts in the middle of the street, played tackle football in fields or two hand touch on the concrete, and had periodic street Olympic games. We rode bikes clear across town to parks and pools and walked the streets without causing mischief. We lived life by the street lights and loved every second of it. Today, childhood obesity is an epidemic, adolescent lethargy runs rampant, the only sports played require remote controls, and the only physical activity children get is walking to the console and the kitchen.
"Pop Culture" was actually more culture than pop. 80's babies were alive to witness the emergence of earth shattering phenomena that changed the way the world worked. Some of the greatest movies in history were filmed in the midst of our hay day. Scary movies were actually scary. Funny movies were actually hilarious. Dramas were dramatic. Denzel, Leo, Jack, Will, Eddie, and any other Hollywood elite that you can recall by first name all saw their rise in that era.
Music... Music WAS culture. The great Marvin Gaye passed away three weeks before my birth, but that voice is eternal. We witnessed the evolution of Michael Jackson, fom Off The Wall in 79, to Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous before the end of the decade. We also saw him transition from Black Mike to White Mike before our eyes, but he was still The King. We saw the rise and fall of R&B through voices like Luther, Patty, Bobby and pre-crack Whitney, and groups like the Boys II Men, Jodeci, Dru Hill, Jagged Edge, and SWV. We saw the birth and death of Hip Hop through Def Jam, Bad Boy, and Death Row. We experienced groups like The Beasty Boys, Run-DMC, Sugar Hill Gang, Geto Boys, UGK, and Outkast. We were blessed with minds like Nasir Jones, Christopher Wallace, Tupac Amaru Shakur, and Lawrence Parker (KRS-One). Even our ratchet rappers had substance. Now, the pioneers have turned commercial, the industry force feeds us bullshit, and Iggy Azalea and Maclemore and the consensus "Best Rappers" according to the Grammy Awards.
For 80's babies, the classroom was a fair balance between wisdom, curriculum, and reality. Gone are the days of the professional educator. The teacher with 20 years under their belt have been replaced with the fresh-out-of college transient. Enlightenment and enrichment have been replaced by standardized assessment. The politcalization of education has resulted in half-written textbooks that are only cycled through every 10 years, if that. American History has been rewritten by conservative exceptionalist who portray slavery as "voluntary servitude", the New Deal as "socialist oversight", and Bill Clinton's most important contribution was a blow job in the oval office (I wish I made that up). The art of written language has been completely lost, as literacy skills are at an all time low. Simple mathematics has been replaced with new rubik's cube processes, and fine arts have essentially been eliminated all together.
Society in and of itself has lost its soul. "Community", in every sense of the word, has vanished. We were raised by the village, "kept" by the neighborhood lady, and hardened by the streets. Trees were stripped switchless, and belts were equal parts rodeo trophy, fashion accessory, and disciplinary device. Substitutes in the form of Hot Wheels tracks, extension cords, and flip flops were readily available and widely acceptable. We were disciplined by the masses, and misbehaving resulted in tiered ass-whoopins; teachers, principals, neighbors, aunts, uncles, the ice cream man, the oldest kid on the block, karate instructors, athletic coaches, and, most importantly, parents all played their role in child-rearing, and everyone felt equally invested in the well-being of the child. Today, its difficult to go to the grocery store without finding a child that makes you think to yourself (or saying out loud), "He needs a good whoopin".
I miss the days when a handwritten letter went a long way. Days when phone conversations lasted hours, relationships had stages, women had class, and chivalry was second nature. Now, monogamy is nonexistent, technology has retarded our conversational abilities, and women have higher body counts then the men. I miss when in-house disputes were handled in house and not plastered on social media. I miss the days when you had to go through the process of courting to get to know the person instead of just looking up their social resume and finding out everything you needed to know. I miss the days when people had decency and wouldn't sell their dignity in fifteen-second clips for a few likes and the aspirations of going viral.
Needless to say, there is no better generation than the 80's Babies. We are the perfect blend between old school and the new age. We saw mobile communication transition from bag phones and cellular devices the size of microwaves to devices that can fit in your pocket and allow you to have face to face communication with someone half a world away. We've seen computers go from floppy discs and Oregon Trail to keyboard-less and cloud computable. We experienced the first president with a "Black Card" that smoked weed, played the saxophone, and had a sidepiece all up and in his house, and the first Black President who broke boundaries, combated adversity, and has a model family.
There is no generation that I would have rather been raised in. Thank God I'm an 80's Baby.