Thursday, May 13, 2010
12 + 10 = 12 (more or less)
Scribbled by Presbyter
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3)
Not long ago, I had a Facebook interchange with a man in his early 20s in which we agreed that, where young men staying in school to avoid work is concerned, not much had changed in the last 50 years.
His Facebook “wall” has confirmed my view that another place where things remain pretty much the same is the banter of many young “men”. While the slang may differ and the style too among groups, too many of them sound pretty much the same as they did in junior high school. Where their age is concerned, there seems to be a perverse arithmetic: 12 + 10 = 12
As for the substance of their banter, style and slang aside, a lot of it is predictable, involving filthy language, sexual allusions and homosexual allegations. It was that way 50 years ago. Junior high school boys don’t seem to change.
(It should be said that this state of affairs isn’t always limited to men in their early 20s. I personally first “grew out” of it, then fell back in during my late 30s, until the Lord snatched me out of that particular sewer - among others. Still, I think it’s true that the early 20s is the time when the problem is most acute.)
There were “social networks” too 50 years ago, just not Facebook. When I worked on a construction gang in Nevada before and after my 22nd birthday, we chatted back and forth on the job that way. Then, after work, we retired to a place like “Sue’s Desert Club” in Battle Mountain, where Sue (the madam) and “the girls” joined in. But that was about the extent of the network: All of us, prostitutes included, would have been ashamed to use that kind of talk around our parents, especially our mothers. In the case of us over-grown-12-year-old boys, while we might have refrained around our mothers at 12 out of fear, the extra 10 years had at least changed us so that at 22 we refrained out of respect. So I suppose, at that time, the arithmetic was: 12 + 10 = 12 (plus a bit).
Facebook seems associated with a change in that, at least where this young man’s “wall” is concerned: Though when he speaks of his mother directly, he seems to esteem and respect her, he’s not ashamed to take part in filthy public interchanges where he knows she (and his aunts, and ...) can see what is said. That, at least, seems to have changed in the last 50 years: 12+10 adds up now to less than it did then.
I suppose the defense for this sort of boorishness would turn on the word, “hypocrisy”, an undervalued commodity: While little could be clearer in the gospels than the fact that hypocrisy has no place in the church, La Rochefoucauld’s maxim that, “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue” tells us that the more we have of it in the civil sphere, the better. Facebook, inasmuch as it lends itself to breaking down the barriers between the private and the public, and doing away with seemly reticence generally, seems to me to reflect an age which is, in a word, growing more “vicious”.
But these periods of history come and go (and will until the Lord returns). So I guess, there’s really “nothing new under the sun”. (Eccl. 1:9) As Solomon put it 3000 years ago: “The bond among fools is guilt.” (Pr. 14:9, Berkeley Version) It’s just that, sometimes, they’re more obnoxious about it.