Ben Borgers

You Might Be Right, But Shut Up

March 17, 2022

In yesterday’s blog post, I linked to an op-ed about how kids should be allowed to be bored more often. The article raises an interesting point that I think I agree with, but it also had some bits that made my blood boil:

Life isn’t meant to be an endless parade of amusements.

If you complained about being bored [in the 70’s], you were really asking for it. “Go outside,” you might get, or worse, “Clean your room.” Was this fun? No. Was it helpful? Yes.

Teachers spend more time concocting ways to “engage” students through visuals and “interactive learning”…

I think it’s this kids these days energy that I despise. An oozing of superiority. And despite the fact that she might be right, I still want her to shut up.

It’s the packaging of the idea, rather than the idea itself. When an idea is packaged in a way that feels demeaning and humiliating, the idea itself falls onto deaf ears. I’m fine with someone asking me to empty the dishwasher. I don’t want to be told that kids these days are too absorbed in their devices to do chores.

What’s more: I know that there’s truth to that! I’m aware of the toll on our attention that modern technology has taken, and that I’m as addicted to it as anyone else. But when someone else tells me that, I lock up and get defensive.

It’s true that there are “hard truths” that need to be delivered. But hard truths can still be delivered with kindness.

Plus, it’s not like the world is getting progressively worse and people from past generations are the only ones who can stop that. Remember how in the good ol’ days before personal computing, it was acceptable to bully kids for their sexual orientation? Sit down.

Here’s another example: in junior year of high school, they spent an abundance of time teaching us about transcendentalism. What I’ve retained is that transcendentalists were people who thought everybody should go outside and enjoy nature instead of being so into your devices so much.


As a sidenote, I just googled it and Transcendentalism is actually about the individual having a direct connection to God. I’m not sure what those english teachers were teaching, but the way they made “Transcendentalism” relevant was telling us that we were way too into our electronic devices.

Understandably, this unit fell onto deaf ears for me. There are few things more infuriating than hearing people rant about the defects of your generation, while espousing the benefits of how it used to be.

But what’s interesting is that they’re right. I am worried about the strong addiction that I have to technology and how I use it. But the way it’s often packaged does no favor to the message within; in fact, it pushes people away before you even get to your message.

The packaging of ideas matters. Delivering criticism in a kind and empathetic way matters.

But when someone preaches to me about what I should be doing, even if it’s something I already agree with? I just want them to shut up.