On first glance, and going as logic dictates, one might think that it is simply the process of aging, growing more mature, hopefully acquiring wisdom as we go, which allows us to make the statement as follows:
"Is it just me, or do seventeen-year-olds seem much younger today than they were when we were growing up and not quite seventeen years old?"
It's not just you. Trust me.
In sorting through my yearbooks looking for Robby (see below), I reflected back on these people, and even on looking at the pictures of classes graduated before mine, I determined that these seventeen-year-olds were MUCH more mature then than those of comparable age today, in terms of all of behaviour, appearance, and accomplishment.
Let me provide a concrete example. Back in 1982, the apparent literacy rate was astounding by comparison to today. The ratio of decent thinking people to mindless, careless thugs was MUCH lower, even in places like Oakland and the depths of San Francisco. Today, such thugs run rampant in places they were never present, including Marin County and Santa Cruz, to say NOTHING of Oakland and the formerly nicer parts of San Francisco.
The expundiation of why this is the new status quo is left for a future discussion when I get my brain back, but I stand by the above. It is NOT eracentric; that is, it is not germane to My Generation. The seventeen-year-olds of 20 years ago were more mature than those of ten years ago; those of 10 years ago surpassed the current crop of high school graduates, in general, by miles.
And it is saddening. It seems that, in a world with a life expectancy, biologically speaking, of seven decades or more without blinking an eye, our current set of up-and-coming teens are simultaneously convinced that they will live forever and that they will die tomorrow. It is truly a travesty which we must turn around, somehow (q.v. getting my brain back, above).
My friend died doing what he loved to do, and though he was mature, he held a childlike wonder of the world and he showed it off to us. But he was still more mature than any seventeen-year-old I know today.
My stepdaughter, by contrast, has to be the most mature girl of fourteen I have ever met, so there are exceptions to this rule. I just hope she decides to go out and have a little fun once in a while.
...but I digress. Perhaps there is a longer average life expectancy because these people are taking longer to emotionally mature -- I don't know -- but that's a double-whammy, because now we not only have to deal with people who haven't got the consideration thing figured out, but we have to deal with them LONGER.
Oh, and please feel free to comment. Does anybody read this stuff?