I was 13 years old when I was finally allowed to take the MTA (the NYC subway or bus) without being accompanied by my parents or older siblings. When I would ride the subway or bus with my mother she would sometimes say to me, “I hope you don’t act a fool when you’re on the train alone like some of these kids.”
To her, what fell under the category of “acting a fool” included roughhousing, cursing, playing music out loud or simply gossiping loud enough to inform all passengers of your business. While I of course would say “I won’t” to my mom, I think we can all admit that when we were young, it was hard not to get somewhat rowdy when it was just you and your friends. Heading home after being trapped in a building for hours hammering knowledge into your cranium often becomes a time for kids to decompress and talk freely about the day before having to answer to their parents. Unfortunately, these days, it seems like it comes with obscenely loud volumes and foolishness.
Without the ever-watchful eye of parents, the train or bus becomes a party. When I was a kid, I would hear adults discuss how my generation was terrible. How we had become disrespectful, lacked morals – the usual “kids these days” spiel. Finally an adult myself (I have the bills to prove it), I have noticed that “kids these days” do appear to be getting a little out of control.
The recent attack of a 21-year-old woman on the G train after chastising a group of teens for cursing loudly in front of young kids has made this more evident to me. A simple request to be respectful shouldn’t make anyone want to jump someone else and give them a concussion. With a culture even more desensitized to violence, such stories are becoming routine. The end results are exhibited on the Internet, across social media platforms. Such violence is glorified in the shows we watch, the focal point of reality television, and praised in varying viral videos of teenagers fighting each other and their elders. It is rare that I can manage to scroll through Facebook without coming across a video of two girls or boys fighting each other while friends laugh in the background. Sadly, the comments aren’t much better.
There is nothing new in the brash behavior exhibited by unsupervised kids. There will probably always be disrespect and foul behavior that will make older folks also riding public transportation want to wave their fingers and give young’ns a piece of their mind. But there is a difference between a harmless, loud conversation and vicious attacks.
Sad to say, I’ll continue to hold my breath when I see a gaggle of teens get on my subway car since I anticipate my ride to now include voices louder than my Beats headphones can cover. Slowly but surely, I’m staring to feel as though this new generation is not like anything we’ve seen before. But are they? Or are some of the kids of today getting the same “these kids these days” treatment we did from our elders as kids and not really all that bad?