There was a pub I used to sometimes frequent which had a table and chairs set in one corner of the bar, on the wall beside the table there was a sign, ‘Grumpy Old Gits’ Corner.’ There were particular regulars who sat there each Saturday. It would have been interesting to hear the conversation of a group comfortable with their status.
Trying to be other than grumpy has become difficult, increasingly difficult. It is hard not to be a candidate for the pub corner when encountering particular people.
I write this post whilst sitting in a window seat on a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Bristol.
Ryanair in itself is enough cause for grumpiness. They seem sometimes to strive to cause their customers the maximum inconvenience. But if you want to fly for €17.71 (plus €29.99 for a bag), then the bus station-like experience has to be endured.
It is the unanticipated moments that cause the most grumpiness. Moments like the encounter with the teenage girl who scowled when I asked if I might be able to get to my seat. Sitting in the middle row, she seemed to have assumed a proprietorial air towards the seats.
Having allowed me to my seat, she then took out her phone and started taking selfies. At least a dozen must have been taken before she lowered the table in front of her and placed her phone on it to record a video of herself brushing her hair back.
Once the selfies were complete, she then started watching videos. The videos were of herself standing in a hallway of a house and talking to the camera.
What is going on?
I am not out of touch with young people. I teach hundreds of them every week. I have conversations at every opportunity. I cannot for the life of me comprehend the culture of narcissism that seems to have taken over.
I remember when to be a teenager was to be rebellious, was to be radical, was to be a dissident voice. Did the culture of obsession with self come with the smartphone and the potential for self-regard that it created?
I don’t know where the culture is going to take them, what I do know is that it is not a culture rooted in reality. The fantasy world of the influencers and TikTok celebrities is far removed from the nasty reality of the world they will have to face.
Sometimes, I fear I have drifted into a social Darwinism that would suggest the selfie takers have not adjusted to the environment in which they live and that they will therefore not survive as a group.
Other times, I just think I have become a grumpy old git.