Has the Internet Made Older Generations Seem Cooler (or less Uncool) ?

Every generation thinks it’s the coolest ever. And the first to discover sex.

When I was a teenager in the early 90s, me and my friends would never have thought of our parents as “cool”. I mean, we loved and respected them but they were… old. Not elderly, of course but their youth was decades in the past. The music of that time was old. The clothes they wore then were pathetically out-of-date. And the fun they had in the 60s was lame. Adults having been once cool was unthinkable. Because we were cool. We knew how to party. The music we listened to was the greatest ever.

A few months ago, someone here posted a link to OldSchoolCool/ and I’ve since come back to that site almost daily since. First and foremost for the pictures, especially those from the 70s and 80s, but I sometimes read the comments and I’ve often been surprised to see some really positive, even admirative comments. Take this picture for instance. The top two comments at the moment are :

*- It’s crazy to think that the old men out there used to be hunky.

  • That could be this sub’s motto.*

I come across similar comments almost daily. Most of the times, they’re rather crude (“This man fucks” or more or less polite appreciation of how good-looking a poster’s mom is). But in spite of the superficiality, I’m often struck by the fact that I would never have thought of this looking at pictures dating from before my birth. And fantasising about actresses from the 40s or 50s ? No way.

So, has the younger generation’s look on its elders changed ? Has the fact that we know have access to millions of pictures from past decades sort of “forced” young people to realize that their parents also had fun (and sex) when they were young, too ? And lots of it, actually.

Or is it just that, technological inovations aside, there’s much less difference in behaviour and moral values between todays’ kids and those of the 70s than there was between the latter and the youth of the 30s ?

From Cheap Trick (1978):
Whatever happened to all this season’s losers of the year?
Every time I got to thinking, where’d they disappear?
But when I woke up, Mom and Dad were rolling on the couch
Rolling numbers, rock and rollin’; got my KISS records out

I think that realizing your parents were actually young and did young stuff (sex, drugs and rock & roll – or at least jazz music) is just part of getting older and gaining perspective that the world and history is bigger than you. Nothing new to the internet generation. Likewise the realization that you can be 45 and still enjoy those things. So they tell me.

That said, if a bunch of 15 year olds want to think I’m cool, well, they’re not wrong. Too cool for them though.

I’ve always known my parents were cool. I’ve seen the pics. Dad was a Vietnam combat veteran for cripes sake! Insta-badass!

Doesn’t mean they are cool today. They are total squares now, baby.

Insta-badass, indeed :wink: !

Veterans are in a different league in this respect, though. What I had in mind was a more mundane definition of cool : partying, seducing and just being generally suave.

To a certain extent, I kind of feel like newer generations like Millennials and whatever they call the ones after them (since, depending on how you define them, Millennials are around 25-40 years old now) are actually less “cool” than previous generations (i.e. Gen-X and Boomers).

Assuming the reports are true:
They are in worse physical shape
They are more socially awkward
They spend too much time in front of screens
They spend too much time on social media
They are stuck in adolescence longer (which is “cool” only for so long)
Their music is more homogenous and processed
They are drinking less and doing fewer drugs
They are too influenced by peer pressure and corporate marketing
Of course, that is applying my own Gen-X standards of “cool”. By their standards of cool, I’m told we Gen-Xers often appear “loud”, “aggressive”, and “sarcastic”. But they do seem to enjoy our music though.

Yeah, while not being a millennial, my 15 year old nephew is apparently reasonably popular and what-not, despite being what in my day (I’m also nearly 45) would have been extremely dorky. And so are the other kids; apparently they are indifferent to getting drivers licenses because cars are detrimental to the environment and they do everything online anyway apparently.

I keep wanting to say “But how are you going to get laid if you don’t get out of your parents house?”, but he probably doesn’t care.

Since he is only 15, you are prudent to not want to encourage underage sex.

I said I want to say, not that I actually say! My point is that the experience is VERY different than those of earlier generations, where probably THE defining point in high school was when you, or your good friends got vehicles and that extra measure of independence from your parents. You could go without oversight, and were effectively free, within the constraints of whatever curfews/check-ins you had to adhere to.

He (my nephew) seems entirely uninterested in such things, and it’s completely perplexing to me.

Probably won’t matter once they reach the same age range.

It should be pretty obvious to everyone that the term cool has no intrinsic meaning, and that it just refers to whatever a certain age groups does–regardless of what they do.

A question: How old were you in 1990?
I’m curious how teens of the early/mid 90s regarded my parents’ agegroup. My parents both turned 36 in 1990. Would they have been considered “old”?

I was a tiny tot then, but I’ve always wondered where my parents sat on the social scheme of things. What I mean is, my parents were both upper blue collar professionals (Nurses). My dad listened to rock music (Guns N’ Roses being the ‘newest’ band he was into in the early 90s), wore a mullet, and pretty much lived in double denim. My mother was more traditional, but she wore her share of acid washed jeans (no shoulder pads thankfully or teased hair). I just wonder if they were “cool.” My sisters were 10, 17, and 18 in 1990 but I feel like asking them would just be odd. Still, it must’ve been interesting. Also considering how conservative the rest of my family was.

I’d say it is a matter of individual opinion–and that the perception of a 36-year-old as being “old” would tend to be inversely proportional to the teen’s intelligence.

Well, I guess it means I wasn’t a particularly intelligent teen ;). Which, considering the huge mistakes I would make and the obvious red flags I would brush aside in the following years, seems more and more likely.

Good point. Perhaps I should rephrase it as : do the activities and values of today’s teenagers have more overlap with those of their parents than they used to ?

I was 15-16. My mom was 39 and my dad in his mid-40s.

On the one hand, your parents belong to the same broad generation as mine, as your siblings’ ages show. On the other hand, I sure would have related to your dad’s musical tastes. I guess they’d have fit in some ad hoc category like “older but fun people”, to which both my uncles belonged.

I’d guess that in part that’s because with the internet, he doesn’t need a car to go out without oversight. Yeah, he needs to get out of the house to actually get laid. But he can view porn, buy the music he wants, talk to edgy people his parents wouldn’t approve of, and even work in a group to create stuff all without leaving the basement.

I’d say it’s easier to achieve a modicum of coolness (going both ways) since it’s easier to discover each other’s popular culture and thus find something in common. It’s harder, however, to be seen as definitively hip since the more obscure stuff is also easier to find and thus not as much of a shock when you discover someone else also is into your stuff.

No matter how old I get, I will always be cool. :cool:

And I use the Internet. A lot.