Sunday, August 22, 2021

Owlet's 15th Birthday

Owlet turned 15. There isn't even a small chance I can ignore the fact she's a complete teenager, careening blithely towards adulthood. At 13, maybe, 14, in a pinch, if you don't think about it too much, you can still think of them as 'so early in teens, hardly even'. But 15. 15 is basically 16 which is basically 35 and inviting me and Mrs. Owl over for Thanksgiving because we can't 'handle the turkey safely anymore'.

We had a extremely small party. Barely a gathering. Ever since Owlet turned, oh, maybe 10? She's been very low key in her birthdays. A day at the VR Cafe with her cousins or going to the PNE. The 15th was marked with hanging out on the deck with two neighbourhood friends over and Owl Jr. Eating junk food and talking? I mean, there was laughing and such. Bella got her tablet and doodled/drew and they all just chattered away. I generally don't listen partly for their privacy but mostly because it's teen/pre-teen talk and I wouldn't say it's boring, just boring for me. 

At one point someone pulls out their phone and they start watching a video. And it's not like some nationally syndicated entertainment program programmed and funneled from one of a handful of mega corporations. Regular human entertainment. No. It's some very nichy faux court drama featuring.. YouTube personalities with enough in-jokes and callbacks to make an Arrested Development fan nervous. I realized, of course, that this was how my parents viewed, say, video games or rap music. Incomprehensible.

But it's my god given right to tell them to quiet down or 'do something normal' so of course I tell them to turn off the phone. I mean, if they were watching the Best of Night Court would I have said something? I'm not sure. And it wasn't so much the nichey-ness of it. It was the cloying sense that this YT show was like the Disney channel teen shows. Full of smarmy kids always pulling one over the dowdy adults. Except in these videos there aren't even any dowdy adults, they are just pulling everything over us without us even being present.  

Pop culture, by definition, belongs to the young. 

I'm still of the age where I think I should keep up , at least in the same hemisphere in what my kids are consuming.I do a pretty shoddy job at that. But when THEIR friends bring the sort of internet culture THEIR parents let them consume, that's when it really gets out of control. There are empires built on watching particularly charismatic kids play games. Open products. React to things, for the love of.. It's never meant to be understood by adults, I'm sure. Google 'Dream SMP'. I've had Owlet explain it to me several times to everyone's regret. It's a bit like reading an excerpt from a Stephen Hawkings book where you think you get it as you are reading it, but the essential understandability of the thing scurries off into the dark as soon as you blink. 

Yes, it's certainly me being old in the ever thriving youth of internet culture. Owlet has gotten Dream SMP merchandise, to give you an idea. This incomprehensible entertainment is big enough to employ a sweat shop somewhere in Asia. 

By which I mean I get slightly panicky when I have to encounter and evaluate a new 'thing' my kids are thinking about consuming. Nevermind that I was allowed (or, more, my parents never disallowed) to listen to gangster rap in the 90's and I've hardly been in any drive-bys. But the internet is more insidious, it works in memes and half truths and before you know it my kids are 9 miles down the Conspiracy Alley and Lizard People Taking Over the Government is least extreme belief they have.

But I think too much. I think too much about thinking too much. Owlet had a fine time chattering away, consuming several times her daily allowance of sodium, sugar, and red dye number 7. She and Owl Jr. almost always have the most mundane requests for Christmas and birthdays. A life lived with on-demand, commercial free entertainment, I chalk it up to. Fun was had by all, she's not yet an adult, and by god, I can still find my way around at turkey.

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