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Monday, May 14, 2007

When Did Young Adults in this Country Become Such Crybabies?

Recording Industry Association of America is sending letters to college students who illegally download music and threatening to sue them unless they agree to a settlement. Sara Barg, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomore, is one of those college students. The RIAA accused her of illegally downloading 381 songs.

Barg couldn't imagine anyone expected her to pay $3,000 — $7.87 per song — for some 1980s ballads and Spice Girls tunes she downloaded for laughs in her dorm room. Besides, the 20-year-old had friends who had downloaded thousands of songs without repercussion.

"Obviously I knew it was illegal, but no one got in trouble for it," Barg said. . . .

Barg's parents paid the $3,000 settlement. Without their help, "I don't know what I would have done. I'm only 20 years old," she said."Technically, I'm guilty. I just think it's ridiculous, the way they're going about it," Barg said. "We have to find a way to adjust our legal policy to take into account this new technology, and so far, they're not doing a very good job."
Sigh. How has it come to this? I'm not refering to widespread illegal downloading. The fact that so many college students download music illegally does not surprise me. People always like to get something for nothing, even if it involves a little larceny. Instead of getting a sound system below cost off the back of a truck, you have illegal downloads. I can almost forgive the lame excuses about how everyone else was doing it, because millions of people are. Though you would think everyone should know by now that you don't jump off a bridge just because their friends are doing it.

No, that's not what bothers me about this story. What bothers me has nothing to do with downloads legal or otherwise.

This statement is what bothers: "I'm only 20 years old." Only 20 years old? What does that mean? When did 20 become the new 15?

A little over 100 years ago the average life expectacy was 37 in the civilized world. Your life was half over at 20.

At 20, you can vote, get married, have children, join the military, sign contracts, drive a car. The only things 20 year olds can't do becauue young adults have been infantalized by society is have a drink and take repsonsibility for their actions. Look at what this "girl" is essentially saying: I broke the law, but it's not my fault becasue technology makes it so easy to break the law and so few people get punished. Unbelievebale. I would like to see how this "it's too easy to break the law" argument would work with other crimes. "Hey, It not my fault I stole a car, someone made it too easy to steal when they left the keys in the ignition. I mean, car thieves are rarely caught, right?" Honestly, the nerve of this person to complain she was somehow lured into in making illegal downloads because she wasn't deterred from it because so few people are punished, but when an effort is made to punish people like her this is somehow "ridiculous."

This story is a symptom of a larger issue in society. There currently appears to be a sense of entitlement and a lack of personal responibility in teens and twenty somethings (and in many liberals of any age). Nothing bad should ever happen to them, but if it does it's not their fault and someone else should bail them out.

Perhaps it's the backlash from so many years of emphasizing self-esteem over achievement. Everyone has been taught they are special and wonderful and given awards just for participating in activities. Came in 8th in a tournament? No problem, here's an 8th place trophy.

Maybe this rant is part of the time honored tradition of complaining about youth, but I'm not so sure. The generation that is now coming into adulthood was raised in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity. They have never known want on a scale like the Great Depression, they have never known war, not even the Cold War. This generation doesn't understand fear and sacrifice. But total war and depression could happen again. Social Security seems doomed to collapse. We're fighting an existential war right now, one that may someday require real sacrifice. So I fear for the future. What will happen to this nation when the current generation, a generation in which so many seem to reject personal repsonsibility, must assume the mantle of responsibility?

UPDATE: Michael Barone thinks the kids aren't all right too.


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