Posted Tuesday morning, May 22, 2018.
Used to be a secular proverb that carried the wisdom of scripture: “If you meet an asshole in the course of your day, you’ve met an asshole. But if everybody you meet is an asshole, then you’re the asshole.” Now maybe I’ve become an asshole, but it seems to me that there’s now a critical mass of assholes and the world is more and more crowded with them so the proverb should be amended. “If you meet ten assholes…”
There’s an occasionally erupting debate over which generation is worse, the Boomers or the Millennials. For some reason, Gen Xers get a pass. If they haven’t contributed as much to the Republic’s decline and fall it’s only because they’ve never outgrown their original incarnation as a generation of slackers and it’s not that they’re not a generation of swine like the rest of us, it’s that they’re just not trying hard enough. But judging from my experience lately, assholery is an intergenerational condition and Generation X is an enthusiastically assholish cohort.
Going from what I’ve observed, there are many fewer assholes among the younger Millennials, the ones still in their late teens and early twenties. But I think that’s only because not enough of them have learned yet that there’s really not much of a price to be paid for being an asshole. (There’s not much of a reward either, a fact that drives Trump voters crazy. They see assholes making out like bandits and they want to know “Where’s my cut?” Of course a lot of Trump’s voters are people who give the above proverb it’s truth.) There are fewer assholes among the Boomers than there were, but that’s because we’re getting old. We’re worn down and worn out, and and most of us don’t have the energy and strength and stamina to be more than minor league-level selfish jerks. We also know which side our bread is buttered on. We’re becoming more and more dependent on the kindness and goodwill of our youngers and betters. Still, we contribute more than our fair share to making life unnecessarily more annoying than it naturally is.
But Gen Xers---people in their forties and early fifties---are in their asshole primes. And they have more opportunity to show it, since they’re running the show now. Don’t look at the Boomers at the top of the ladders. Look at the people a couple rungs down, the ones where the action is.
I don’t blame this on anything other than that people generally stink and are stupid, no matter the decade they came of age. There are more assholes now because there are more people than there have ever been. And the thing about assholes is that they make others behave like assholes back in retaliation and self-defense. So odds are even if you aren’t by nature an asshole you act like one regularly just to make it through the day.
Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And, like I said, it may just be that I’ve become an asshole myself, if I wasn’t always one.
Caveat: My opinion may be skewed. I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately driving in rush hour traffic and looking for open slots in parking lots. It’s my experience that people are at their stupidest in parking lots. Both drivers and pedestrians lose all their judgment and common sense in them. They walk and drive as if all the rules of the road and behavior are suspended and as if cars are made of soft rubber and will bounce off each other and them.