John Stossel: Codgers freaking out
Crotchety old geezers always complain about "the kids." The Boston Globe frets about "Idle Trophy Kids." The New York Post asks if millennials are "The Worst Generation?" Older folks (my age) complain that young people spend so much time texting each other that they can't communicate. And because they spend hours playing violent video games, violence is up.
It's true that kids today play incredibly violent games like "Halo" and "Grand Theft Auto," but as the games' popularity increased (over the past 20 years), youth violence dropped 55 percent. In Japan, kids spend more time playing violent games, and there's even less violence. And in America, despite media hype, there are fewer school shootings now, not more.
Inevitably, we older people misunderstand new ways young people do things — we are frightened by the risks and oblivious to the benefits.
O'Reilly worries about "America going to pot ... If you use any intoxicating agent, your goal is to leave reality. You're not satisfied with your current state of mind, you want to get high, buzzed, blasted, whatever."
Some people like the sensation of getting "buzzed." Some are not satisfied with their current state of mind. Good. That's what gets people to learn new things.
Altering our minds is a most basic right. We alter our minds — often for the better — every time we read a book, fall in love or watch a TV show, including O'Reilly's.
But again, where's the harm? As reporter Michael Moynihan will point out on my TV show this week, "Over the past 20 or so years, sex has been in everyone's face, yet teen pregnancy dropped by 50 percent."
In 1956, The New York Times said Elvis had "no discernable singing ability." The New York Daily News called his act "animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos." Even Frank Sinatra said his kind of music is "deplorable, a rancid, smelling aphrodisiac (that) fosters destructive relations in young people."
"Moral panics are one of our favorite things," says Moynihan. "If there's nothing to be panicked about, what do you write about?" Being outraged is part of the media circus.
Old people always talk about the good old days. But the good old days were not so good. When I was young, more kids were intolerant, racist, sexist and homophobic. They had little knowledge of life beyond their neighborhoods. Today, thanks to the Web and other innovations, life is better, not worse.