It’s another rantypants post, aren’t you lucky. I’m feeling all the ranty feels about this one, so enjoy.
There’s a particular meme going around social media at the moment that infuriates me, because it is sexist and ageist and so very palpably trying to pretend to be intellectually vigorous, but it’s a giant lie.
The meme goes like this: there’s a picture of Einstein, with a quote attributed to him, that says something about how when technology overtakes human interaction, that we’ll have a generation of idiots. First problem – Einstein never said that. Not once. Not ever. EINSTEIN NEVER SAID THAT. That is a misattribution from the movie “Powder.” Yes, the 90s movie about a paranormal teen said that Einstein said that, but he never did. So there’s your first problem.
Second problem – the picture below that picture shows a group of five young, likely teenage girls, wearing summer clothes, outside, all looking at their smartphones. As if to say – Hah! Look at that! Because these are teenagers, and they’re looking at their phones, and most of all, because they’re GUUURRRRRLLS, they are idiots! Haha! Isn’t that clever? See! Kids these days! Einstein (who never said that) was right!
It’s so disingenuous. You don’t know what those girls are looking at, on those phones. They could be looking up historical facts about a nearby monument. They could be coordinating a protest, or a workshop, or a study group. They could be helping out a friend who is in trouble and needs somewhere safe to go, and they’re trying to figure out where that would be. They might be texting each other about someone’s outfit, or how cute the guys in One Direction are, or looking at facebook (which is where YOU (general you) got this stupid meme anyway, so who are you to judge), or laughing at a joke, or making a comment on the political situation in the local school board. YOU DON’T KNOW. AND WHY DO YOU CARE? Plus deciding that what these GUUUURRRLLLS are doing with their smart phones is idiotic, when it is the EXACT SAME THING that YOU (again, general you) do with your smartphone every damn day, is … well, I’m just saying those girls aren’t the idiots in this situation. Take off your judgey McJudgeypants and also dismount your very judgey high horse and maybe you should remember that judging kids that way is a pretty crappy thing to do. So stop it.
Our society very much enjoys putting girls down and laughing at them. This attitude continues and follows women into adulthood, but it starts, and is particularly virulent and violent, with teen girls. What girls listen to, what they talk about, what they do, what they read – all of it is regarded as stupid, vapid, slutty, gross, frivolous, ridiculous, worthless. It has to be proven otherwise, before people will believe it. We have to put up example after example of young women and teen girls doing amazing things, and those young women or teen girls are always seen as an anomaly, not as par for the course. We are dismissive of evidence because we’re used to dismissing women, girls, and teenagers overall.
Why, you ask? Sexism, ageism, and the general jerkiness of humanity as it ages. Shake your canes all damn day, people who say “kids these days.” Girls organize protests, create art, are inventers, are scientists, are poets, are dancers, are artists, are political, are smart and funny and awesome. They look at their smartphones, and so do you. They interact with people all over the world all at once, and find it normal. They are marching into the future to be the next generation of people running things, and everyone moans and groans because oh noes, those girls, they are so vapid! But they aren’t vapid, you just have decided they are. Maybe you’re the vapid ones, and it’s driving you crazy. Maybe you should look up from your social media once in awhile. Or actually look at the social media that girls are creating and participating in, and interacting with humanity in, and realize how fully amazing they are.
PS “It might behoove you to look up quotes before forwarding them on. Sometimes, quotes on the internet are misattributed.” – Jane Austen.
PPS Jane Austen didn’t say that. But I did.
Title is from “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé. Oh yes I did.