I used to be with it, then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you!
- Grampa Simpson, S7E24 (Homerpalooza)
In your early to mid 20s, a switch will flip inside your brain. This switch will suddenly make you absolutely despise the “modern youth”, everything they do, everything they stand for, and will cause you to make ad-hoc justifications for this vehement rage. This is a time-tested tradition, from thinking that newspapers will cause the downfall of western society, to thinking that TV will cause the downfall of western society, to thinking that phones will cause the downfall of western society, to thinking that whatever the zoomers are doing on the timeline will cause the downfall of western society. The baby boomer generation did it for generation X, the gen Xers did it for millennials, and now the millennials are seizing the chance to express their own hatred towards the freshly minted generation Zed.
Unfortunately, western society prevails in the world despite the existential threats from those horrible youngins every twenty years or so. But, this time will be different, surely! We live in traumatic times for civilisation, with a global pandemic looming, the liberal governments of the west willingly mishandling it, and life getting worse for the workers (but this time, more so than they always have!). Meanwhile, the zoomers are stuck litigating each other on the line over who they follow on their social media, or which two fictional characters they want to read vivid sexual fan-fiction of. The younger generation simply doesn’t understand the world, their problems aren’t real, they’re going to grow up mentally damaged, and so and so forth harks the late 20s podcaster army.
What is a Zoomer?
A “zoomer” is the colloquial reference to a member of “generation Z”, which typically means anyone born from between 1997 and 2012. The term is the opposite of a “boomer”, the colloquial reference to a member of the Baby Boomer generation which were born in the so-called baby boom after World War 2. These “boomers” make up the majority of old people in the western world. The average zoomer is either in very young adulthood (23 at the max as of writing), or is still a teenager.
To the mind of many in the west, the term “millennial” and “zoomer” are basically synonymous, but only the actual Generation Zed will be discussed.
What’s wrong with the kids?
For many older people, the dislike of youth has a simple common theme that applies to anyone any more than twenty years younger than them: phone addicted cowards who need a permanent safe space to avoid the harsh realities of the world. This is primarily just an artifact of parenting before the current times mostly consisting of beating your child, and is an uninteresting aspect of the psyche that is out of the scope of this analysis. Instead, the focus is on the “unique” issues with the new generation.
The so-called problem with kids these days is that they are too “woke”, to the point of brain damage. This is separate from the aforementioned dislike; the argument here is that zoomers cannot see life through anything other than this wokeness lens. Media analysis is over if something is woke or not (or even if the author is woke or not), friendship is over if somebody is woke or not. Kids are too proud of being woke, and this affects the way they think, the way they act, and “ruins” a generation to make them unable to cope with the realities of the unwoke “real world”. They argue with each other over things that don’t matter. They can’t be social without putting it in a moral framing. This is supposedly the problem with Kids These Days.
In order to understand the argument being made, some history has to be explored to see exactly how zoomers ended up the way they are, and what specifically the way they are is.
Fandoms are not really as relevant to the modern young person brain as they used to be, but any look at twitter shows they have undoubtedly shaped modern zoomer discourse in many ways.
A “fandom” is just “a group of fans of something”. Generally, it is used by said fans to describe themselves (“I’m a member of the Bingus fandom”), but sometimes it’s used as an insult (“I hate the undertale fandom, they’re so obnoxious”). I’m a member of the F1 fandom. Many people are a member of the football (forma del association) fandom, or the football (forma de unidos estados) fandom.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being in a fandom yourself. What many people think of when they think “fandom” is Tumblr and its obsessive franchise fandoms, with fandom wars, shipping wars, moral policing, et cetera. This is the real issue with the kids these days, it’s that their development is permanently fucked due to being involved in these obsessive fandoms, or people they say.
The Tumblr Fandoms
Tumblr has long since been a target of ridicule by the rest of the web. “It’s full of dumb stupid children who care about things too much!” and other insults. It would be a lie to say there’s not some kernel of truth to this; some of the members of the Tumblr fandoms were absolutely rabid, searching for the chance to bite off the arm of anyone who says something bad about their favourite franchise.
The argument is that the social relations in these fandoms is significantly harmful to the brain of a young adolescent; the way the members view the world (with their moral codes especially) causes a type of brain rot that sets in permanently.
One of the core social relations of a Tumblr fandom is moral policing, where anyone who is considered to have “wrong” morals is the Enemy and must be ruthlessly harassed and bullied into submission until they correct their morals. Even so, correcting your morals does not stop you from being an Enemy, as your past misdeeds will be bought up forever.
When you’re a teen, you don’t really have much to feel superior about. You’re pretty dumb. You have zero real influence. You might be physically strong but nobody actually cares. Being worse than everyone else is pretty damaging to your psyche, so you search for something to feel better about. Some kids turn to the racism pipeline, or other general bigotry, so they can feel superior for protecting western society against the degenerates by hurling slurs. (Oddly, not many people really think these kids are a problem. Curious!) Some kids however turn to social progressivism and then moral policing to feel superior over others with Worse Morals.
This moral policing is based on the idea of “oppression”, about who is oppressing others. The mindset of the Tumblr Moral Police zoomer is that incorrect morals causes oppression, therefore it is their duty to perform moral policing in order to reduce the amount of oppression.
This manifests itself in various ways, but one such way is moral panic over shipping.
Shipping Ages and Paedophilia
This isn’t very unique to Tumblr fandoms, but “Tumblr user” is definitely what the vast majority of people (who care about it) think when a certain term comes up: shipping. Shipping in itself is just the act of wanting two fictional characters (or in the case of real weirdos, real people) to be romantically or sexually involved in some way.
Being in a fandom? Usually fine. Shipping characters? Usually fine. These two on their own don’t maladjust a zoomer’s brain to the point of being “too woke”. This all changes when a character’s age starts to get in the way.
Paedophilic shipping (I don’t know any real term for this) is when an adult character is shipped with a minor character, e.g. 18 and 15. To the vast majority of people, if they read about this, they would probably go “Okay”, or “Eww, whatever”, or similarly apathetic responses. Is it a problem? No, of course not. Pretty much nobody thinks it is. These characters aren’t real. Except for the people who frequent Tumblr fandoms, because it is a Moral Sin and against their moral code.
(Side note: By “paedophilic” shipping, I mean shipping of 14-16 ranges with 17-19 ranges. I don’t know or want to know about people shipping literal children and adults together.)
Getting mad about the shipping of underage characters with adult characters is one thing. But, such an attitude easily mutates into something far more evil: age gap discourse.
The Death Of Tumblr
But first, brief detour before sinking into the lava lake that is age gap discourse. In 2018, Tumblr got delisted from the iPhone app store for having lots of child porn on its server. A little while later, the nuclear option was deployed and all pornographic content was banned from the 17th Dec. This killed Tumblr swiftly, both because half of the content of Tumblr was blogs dedicated to pornography and also because the vague wording of “pornographic content” would ensnare a lot of unrelated content that whilst adult in nature was not intended in a pornographic model. This announcement also gave the world the famous phrase “male presenting nipples”, a poor attempt at trying to be both progressive and also conservative at the same time.
Whilst the exodus from Tumblr to Twitter was slowly happening in the background anyway, this was the critical event that really solidified the jump. Twitter got noticeably worse from 2019 onwards.
Age Gap Discourse: Oh God Save Us All
The gap in maturity between a 15 year old and an 18 year old is immense. An adult in a relationship with a mid teen is frowned upon in most society (to put it lightly) because of this maturity gap. Generally, it is also believed that everyone gets more mature as they age.
The horrible extrapolation of these two facts results in age gap discourse, where people confidently make statements such as “an 18 year old and a 21 year old should not be dating”. This is further extrapolated into “A 21 year old who dates an 18 year old is a paedophile”, despite no minors being involved in any part of the equation.
This type of weird moral policing grows out of the Tumblr fandom shipping moral policing discourse into the real world, and is supposedly one of the clearest signs of brain rot in zoomers today. For obvious reasons, a 21 year old dating an 18 year old is not a paedophile. The vast majority of people would not have any genuine objections to such a relationship; they’re both adults. However, a hardline moral view on maturity mandates opposing such relationships to minimise any possible oppression that could arise from the older party.
Curiously, something else begins to pop up in the mind of a zoomer fandom moral police member - something approaching an actual analysis of power structures. Unfortunately for everyone, this results in the spontaneous appearance out of the entropy of a new word: “Privilege”. In abstract terms, privilege is something somebody has that elevates them in society. A white man has privilege. A white woman has privilege but less so than the white man. This culminated in the infamous and widely mocked phrase “Check your privilege”, a statement that has been uttered genuinely exactly once in history and every time since has been used as a joke.
As with everything else in the world, somebody else has put the issue the concept of privilege has in better wording than I can think of:
I get it: Privilege is not totalizing; a black man has privilege relative to his wife but not relative to a white cop. But that nuance quickly goes out the window. People feel insulted by the suggestion that they're privileged because it is almost always intended as an insult.— Brigadier General William Rufus Turnipseed, Jr. (@SeanRMoorhead) December 23, 2020
Woke Race Science
Finally, we get to the ultimate peak of this zoomer socially progressive mindset: re-inventing race science, but woke. Race science is just an example; there exist many more re-inventions of traditional bigotry wrapped in woke language, especially when the topic of gender comes up (how many different ways can you say you hate GNC but woke-ly? it’s more than you think!). Every so often a take comes along the timeline, explaining how Africans have this set of features, and Europeans have this set of features, and how being black with a European eyebrow ridge or whatever makes you more privileged than everyone else, and you can’t call yourself mixed race if you have it.
How is this all linked?
These are all mostly disparate points, that kind of flow into eachother, but don’t address the issue of how this relates to kids these days. These attitudes are nearly universally held by younger members of the on the lines, and there’s a LOT of tweets and posts and et cetera espousing woke bigotry, harassing people for privilege (even if that’s not the word used anymore), or people hijacking memes to make dumb woke takes that miss the point of the meme. It’s hard to avoid posts about how liking X character is problematic, or how this movie glorifies evil people, or how @UwuPringlesLover2002 is a paedophile for e-dating @ReyloKinnie7476.
Seeing all this, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the kids have been ruined by years of being on the line, being in fandoms, and becoming too woke. They can’t enjoy things when they’re not super woke. They stop other people from enjoying things because they’re not woke. They make terrible wojak memes. They all contribute to oppression rather than help it. They alienate the Average Worker. They won’t fit in in the real world because they view everything through fandom lenses. They bullycide people. They don’t focus on real issues. Also something something mental health.
But that’s not true, is it?
No, of course not.
Everyone does stupid stuff as a kid
Everyone does stupid stuff as a kid. Everyone. They do stupid stuff, and they grow from it, and years later look back and go “Boy, was I stupid” and have a laugh at how little they take things seriously anymore. Every generation of teenagers gives themselves brain damage. Beforehand, it was physically from smashing their heads against the wall trying to do dumb stunts outside, and it was mentally from being bullied to death for being different in school. Zoomers still do dumb stunts (just to a lesser degree), but tend not to do the bullying for being weird thing as much. Indeed, if it’s relegated to Tumblr fandom kids, it’s still an upgrade!
Everyone is also normal
These overly woke posts you see, how many people post them? It’s not many. Sure, they might get a few thousand likes, but think about how many people there are in the world - seven and a half billion. Half of those are bots, and most posts are liked by the same groups. That’s not a lot of people in the grand scheme of things - and most of those people are going to grow out of it!
Social media amplifies the engagement rate of woke zoomers, too. Twitter encourages dunking through quote tweets (recent features deployed in 2020 make it easier than ever to get engagement through dunking!), so “controversial” progressive tweets get even more engagement than they otherwise would.
Despite this, most zoomers are just normal! They do teen stuff. They watch movies normally. They listen to podcasts normally. They read books normally. They are friends with people they disagree with, because that’s a natural part of human life, and this generation does it just like every other generation did. But most importantly…
Zoomers are misguided, not evil
… wokeness in Gen Zed at least comes from a place of compassion. A lot of the time, the attempts at moral policing may be stupid, and may be misguided, but they’re not evil or malicious. Somebody trying to do good but failing in a bad way is a lot better than somebody trying to be bad and succeeding. Behaviour grounded in “avoiding oppression” is far easier to divert into good analysis as someone ages. This is where a lot of the dumb moral panic over the younger generation being ruined falls flat on its face, and exposes the reality that Young People Bad And Scary.
Also, do some self-reflection
The real evil woke generation are the young adult author contingent. Their wokeness is the real issue, and guess what, they’re not part of the zoomer generation! Their moral policing isn’t based in niceness; it’s based in aesthetics, and storytelling. This can’t be diverted into real world analysis easily, because that would conflict with their view of the world as a grand YA novel.
People like to make a lot of alarmist tweets about how Zoomers are having their brain ruined with discourse. Whilst the rise and fall of Tumblr fandom moral policing certainly has had an affect on a lot of Gen Zed kids, most teens these days are normal, and the ones who aren’t will grow out of it. Hating on the younger generation is a staple of every generation, and it’s pointlessly performative.