Back in the late nineties, I had the pleasure of strength coaching a seventy-some-year-old gentleman named Milton. He had a sparkle in his eye reminiscent of a young boy ready to kick the world’s butt. Milton approached his deadlifts fiercely, ripping 225 off the platform like a bag of groceries the first time I showed him the lift. Guilty of stereotyping, I asked him if he played golf. The young man in an older man’s body gave me a disdainful look and told me that he would take it up when he got old—at ninety or later.
Our Children Are Old Men
This happened fifteen years ago. Today, golf seems like a hardcore sport. I had a startling revelation—most of the favorite activities of today’s ten-, twenty-, and thirty-year-olds can be engaged in by folks in nursing homes. In a New Yorker cartoon a boy is playing with his phone and his mother suggests that he go play outside. The boy gives her an amused look: “What is this, 1962?”
Our pear-shaped kids are the reverse of my student Milton—old men and women in young people’s bodies. They bring the timidity of the old age into the age when one is supposed to drink life out of a fire hose. Fighting, loving, climbing trees, lifting kettlebells, throwing knives, making model rockets, running, and doing pull-ups before dawn getting ready to join the Marines. Dreaming of the future, unlimited—scratch all that in favor of Grand Theft Auto.
There Is No App for Living
Twenty- and thirty-year-olds are equally lame. They walk around like zombies, glazed eyes glued to their prized phones. They cross streets with a nursing home shuffle, infuriating drivers trying to take a turn. They have zero situational awareness and fall prey to any crime or accident.
Not long ago, newspapers published a still shot from the security camera that had caught a contract murder in New York City. The image shows the victim in the last seconds of his life, the killer a couple of steps behind him, ready to pull the trigger. What is the man about to die doing?—Walking and fooling around with his phone. What was the last image imprinted on his retina before his status got permanently updated? A photo of somebody’s lunch or a string of semi-coherent LOLs and OMGs?
Go live. There is no app for that.