First of all, I guess I’d better make a dry-cleaner run really soon — I’m at an age when I haven’t been invited to a lot of weddings lately, but since a hell of a lot of residents of my state might be heading to the Chapel of Love all of a sudden, I’d better make sure my good clothes are looking tidy and fresh. Mazel tov, folks. And thank you, Governor Cuomo — you may be a Christie Lite with regard to taxes and public-sector unions, but on this issue you’re conducting a master class in arm-twisting for progressive ends, a class I wish a certain rather more prominent Democrat would show up for and take notes.
Having said that. I want to shift gears extrememely awkwardly, and talk about, um, David Brooks.
Yesterday’s Brooks column concerned a Rolling Stone story about a teenage girl who gained some fame posting provocative content online, with ultimately unpleasant consequences for herself and her family. Brooks lives for the moments when he’s given an opening to express moral outrage, in a squeaky, soft-spoken, but ultimately noodgy neo-Victorian way; this is a rather tawdry story, so I guess you can’t blame the guy for piuncing on the opportunity to finger-wag and scold.
But the conclusion to which his column builds is preposterous:
She is an extreme case of an enormous uncontrolled experiment that is playing out across the world. Young people’s brains are developing while they are immersed in fast, multitasking technology. No one quite knows what effect this is having….
Most important, some young people seem to be growing up without learning the distinction between respectability and attention.
What is he saying? That failing to learn “the distinction between respectability and attention” is some sort of Net-driven, multitasking-derived disease that’s utterly new, and that’s turned our kids into strange beings we respectability-craving elders can’t recognize — or control? Is he arguing that we have failed to communicate our highly developed focus on respectability to our young?
Has he been living in the same country I have for the past few decades?
Has he watched reality television? Has he missed the entire dysfunctional-youth memoir boom?
For that matter, has he missed the rise of shock-jockery and the infusion of its values into political discourse (Glenn Beck, Michael Savage), or the infusion into news of penny-dreadful tabloidism (from Hearst through Murdoch and Nancy Grace)? Has he missed thelast three years of Sarah Palin’s life?
This is America. We don’t do anything “respectable” — or at least we have nothing but contempt for those who do what’s respectable (e.g., schoolteachers, or people who punch in at a factory and do honest work). “Respectable” work isn’t honored, and, if it pays a decent wage, we want to put an end to that, stat. So, since most people can’t be Steve Jobs or Lloyd Blankfein, there’s simply no reasonable path to feeling “respectable” than doing something sensationalist.
That’s not the fault of synapse-fried teens. That’s our fault, as American adults.
I read that big hunk of stupid in the Post-Gazette this morning. I, too, wondered if Bobo has ever met a teenager or preteen, even speculating that Bobo himself may never had an adolescence. And then I remembered that, no, he just has never grown beyond his own.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Fix’t. You forgot The Savage Weiner’s last name and missed putting a space between two words.
The teens of every generation are different than the last. Bobo and other non-evolvers are having problems dealing with that fact.
Hey Bobo, things change over time. Get used to it or get left behind in the dust.
I am sure people said the same thing about newspapers, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, cinema, television, and every new growth in communications and entertainment.
Considering that he writes a lot about sociology, Brooks seems to have no idea that “controlled experiments” do not occur in social or technological development. That is not how social change has ever happened.
When was the last time someone did a “controlled experiment” on society and then released a new communication technology?
Evidence is simply piling up that his mirror is broken, or, rather, the mirror is not broken but he’s unable to distinguish the difference between what he sees while staring fondly into it and the net sum of exterior reality. Oh, and he’s apparently frozen in place.
Most important, some New York Times columnists seem to be growing old without learning the distinction between coherence and sesquipedalianism. Or between argument and bullshit. Or between his ass and a hole in the ground.
Harry Reid? Joe Biden?
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
Bobo is hopelessly clueless about anything that happens outside of his bizarre tunnel-visioned worldview. I’m with geg6.
Really, trying to make logical sense out of anything he writes anymore is a lost cause.
My mornings have greatly improved since I have stopped reading his columns in the NYT Op-Ed.
I vote for the dust.
funny, it’s sad, he’s of the generation that was told that masturbation would make you go blind, that’s clearly not true… after being ‘exposed’ to Brooks’ brain, it’s clear that excessive masturbation renders you stupid.
Maybe Cuomo should primary that prominent Democrat then…Lt Dan just said so on twitter.
As for Bobo,
…really, really. Like someone said, American adults barely understand this distinction (Bristol Palin, Paris Hilton, any of the Kardasian sisters, hell, the whole MTV reality show line-up), with adults like these put on showcase, is it any wonder teenagers think attention is way better than respectability any day.
It’s greed. Plain and simple.
Greed takes various forms. It’s the CEO laying off needed workers and forcing the rest to pick up the slack to they can get a bigger bonus. It’s the crack dealer selling to the despondent in the inner city. It’s the company ignoring safety regulations in order to increase profits. It’s the politician who is more interested in fame and ego than progress. And yes, it’s the girl showing herself to try and gain a bit of fame for herself. It’s the bank robber AND the bank all at once.
It’s all the same thing. Greed is greed is greed. It’s nothing new, and it follows the path of opportunity. People who want to chase that bone do it however they can. The only difference is what paths lie before them.
Look. David Brooks is coin driven. The kind of awareness you propose would reflect badly on the ruling classes who preside over and profit from ongoing decay of America.
He doesn’t get paid to embarass those maggots. So he is never going to realize that we live in a decaying society, because we allow ourselves to be run by carrion eaters whose only focus is short term profit.
Villago Delenda Est
The sooner David Brooks’ broken, mangled body is found in a back alley, the better.
IIRC, we all have to learn how much to say out loud and which things we have to keep private. We aren’t born knowing that. And teens have struggled with that issue for a long time.
Let’s see . . . when was the last time I said something rash?
Oh, yeah. I remember. Not that long ago. But I don’t want to share that.
Let’s just say that it is a lifelong task to try to figure out when to speak out and when to STFU.
Do you think that some columnists haven’t been keeping up with their lessons on that subject?
Great post SteveM. How can respect for people’s lives be expected from people like Brooks when our country is driven by economic principles that show no respect at all for the lives of those who may find themselves on the short end of the stick. If you are sick and have no insurance? Go ahead and die. If you haven’t a job, you are lazy. Major and minor media is filled with lies and sensationalism that distort the public discourse into riffs on appeals to what is the worst in each of us, but to the advantage of those who would stay on control.
If egregiously corrupt bankers cause a recession from which they make billions but cause others to lose their homes and jobs and insurance and often tragically their own self-respect — how in that world is “respect” supposed to be some sort of shining beacon for young people?
If we didn’t live in a system that encouraged the treatment of people as chattel, perhaps our prissy Brooks-meister could pretend to be less offended by the ostensible flaws of the peasants.
Maybe Cuomo’s arm twisting for one set of progressive ends worked in NYS because he gave up on a whole other set of progressive ends (unions, taxes, education). If that other democrat mentioned did the same thing he would have been declared a failure for throwing a whole class of dems under the bus. But Cuomo gets a standing ovation.
I give Cuomo credit but let’s not forget he was operating under very different rules than DC does. Anyone think there will be any republicans giving speeches about the right side of history on ending DOMA? Yeah, me neither.
The arsonists are sounding the fire alarms again.
OT: Apparently Justice David Prosser assaulted* one of the female Wisconsin Supreme Court justices in her chambers last week. (*grabbing around the neck, unless friendly, sounds like assault)
@me-that is just whacked.
Davis X. Machina
Addison and Steele will immediately become the lead suspects.
OT2: Here’s a more detailed article.
So, Brooks doesn’t want to just go Galt. He wants to go Amish.
He is a tiresome little idiot, misunderstanding science and psychology so he can fall back into his comfort zone, a fantasy of returning to some false idyllic past in which “traditional” family values were supreme.
and what’s with that “jazz” music and those “flapper” hair cuts ? why don’t they respect society’s proven ways ?
Also, too, that unnamed prominent Democrat can learn from Coumo how to achieve hero status with the progresive opinion makers while passing a budget full of cuts to the poor and middle class but rewards the rich with tax deals.
Brooks is right, the proper awe due respectability is sadly on the wane. Why, just this past winter a phalanx of orphans and mudlarks launched a volley of snowballs and knocked my opera hat clean off!
They hied to their lowly redoubts before I could thrash them with my walking stick.
Finally, David Brooks is getting around to denouncing the soul-crushing evils of squalid factory conditions. He must be a union man, or at least in favour of more government workplace regulation. A pleasant surprise.
And he’s also finally coming out against, … um,… theatre. Well, it is true that the years after 1900 brought us Eugene O’Neill and so on. A pity that Brooks wasn’t around then to head that off.
@me ~ why wasn’t he charged with assault?
Davis X. Machina
Our country is driven by principles that demand no respect be shown those who may find themselves on the short end of the stick.
Under the perverse, demotic Calvinism that is our de-facto state religion, anyone ‘on the short end of the stick’ was chosen from before the beginning of all time by an inscrutable Divine Will for that fate.
It’s not their fault, it’s not
ourfault, it’s just the Way Things Are.
Admittedly I often wonder why His distribution of the good things of this life, and His outward signs of election, so often comforts the comfortable, and
remarkably enough, conforms to our prejudices.
But it would be presumptuous on a good day, and blasphemous on a bad one, to think too hard about this….
Villago Delenda Est
One of the primary tenets of National Soshulism, which, say what you will about them, at least constitute an ethos.
Exactly. The choices now are to die in the dust, or MAKE IT BIG.
Almost makes me wish I hadn’t read so much dystopian science fiction in my youth. Almost.
And to pivot right back to the top of the post:
Hurray for New York! There are going to be lots of fabulous weddings, and the only result will be a good time.
We call this an “atavism,” or the longing for an idyllic past that never actually existed. Think of swashbuckling pirate movies and how that has entered the popular culture. Ask anyone who’s only real exposure to Pirates of the Caribbean what pirate life was actually like–sort of like that.
What Brooks longs for is a fantasy; a fiction created by an older generation to rationalize their current hatred for or inability to understand the world as it is today. It’s why men like Brooks turn out articles and books and ramblings that are so divorced from reality in any objective sense.
Of course, this is nothing new. I can’t think of a time when there hasn’t been an older generation shaking their heads in disappointment and wistfully wishing for an America (or Rome, take your pick) that never was, but they seem to remember with perfect clarity. The only difference is that they now have access to mass forms of communication and this, of course, creates huge problems.
People who have not yet matured behaving immaturely. There’s a news flash.
I recall reading that the popularity of the bicycle was viewed with alarm because it might allow young people to get away from home & get up to who knows what.
BoBo is to be forgiven for not grasping the whole multi-tasking thing. The SOB has yet to master walking & chewing gum at the same time.
Now now, no need for a Batman scenario.
The sooner David Brooks is consigned to consuming pudding in a nursing home staffed entirely by illiterate Trisomy-G patients, the better.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
Technology allows attention seekers to become famous without getting paid for it. I’m sure Lady Gaga gets hate mail too. The difference is that she can pay for security.
I disagree. I think they are mostly the same. The experience may be expressed differently due to cultural changes but teenagers are all the things they have always been.
Shorter [email protected]
How can Brooks expect young people to have self-respect when the culture he advocates treats them with such disdain?
OK, I called this one. A few months ago, before all the recall election stuff and so on, there was an article we were discussing in a comment thread about Prosser and his relations with the female judges on the Wisconsin court. The article described some quite unprofessional and obnoxious behaviour (Can’t remember exactly what – don’t have time to look it up – but it was something like calling a fellow judge some vulgar names in conference or something like that.) It quoted someone as reporting him saying something along the lines of “Well, yes, perhaps I was out of bounds, but those women are always trying to provoke me into doing something embarrassing like that. They were pushing and pushing so I would get myself in trouble.” And I believe I commented at the time that I recognized that kind of thinking – “OK I did bad but really it’s her fault for provoking me into it”. This guy is an abuser. He might as well have it tattooed on his forehead. So I’m not surprised at this additional news. Winning the recall election has emboldened him, and he feels even fewer restraints on his behaviour.
Let’s see, hot chicks, hideous old men, drunken incoherence, and Keith Richards – it was like touring with the Rolling Stones!
[email protected]: Wow. I thought Prosser came across as typical republican bully but now it’s clear how little self-control he has, if any. He doesn’t belong in the job for that alone.
I’ll be waiting eagerly for Brooks to wade into the psychology of sadist, self-destructive, brutish republicans.
So is Cuomo the new great white hopeless of the firebaggers?
I’m sure that minorities will shuck and jive to the polls en masse for him.
Davis X. Machina
There’s an actual literature on this, with other technological changes. I’m thinking of Ivan Illych’s In The Vineyard of the Text, which explores the transition from mostly oral reading to silent reading. Or Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy.
Thoughtful Black Co-Citizen
Other things Bobo missed: The history of child labor.
I think it is the news out of New Yawk, but I’m finding it harder than normal to give a flying fuck what The Prude Patrol thinks* today.
*Emotes, emits, eructs?
Yeah, I read that Bobo column the other day. As well as I could with my eyes reflexively rolling. He’s a fool but he does have sort of a point. Teens always have lacked judgement and always will. What’s different now is the extreme emphasis on short term celebrity as status, and the ease of gaining exposure.
Well, teenagers never did stupid things before the internets, or the Twitter, or that YouTube thingie.
Actually, SteveM is *exactly* right – the pols and pundits screaming the loudest about the decline in respectability are the exact same ones modeling egregious behavior on a daily basis. Every time I see a Republican posing in front of the cameras, screeching something rude about the president of our country, I want to say to them LISTEN TO YOURSELF. Tell me which part of the stream of insults coming out of your mouth are a reflection of solid family values.
It’s a constant source of amazement to me that every middle school social studies teacher in this country hasn’t committed suicide.
BTW, one of our local yokels has the solution to all our problems so don’t fear.
@ppcli: Well, if it’s true and he doesn’t get impeached (and given the current makeup of the Wisconsin state government and the tendency of Republicans to excuse any bad behavior from their own) it’ll he a huge embarrassment. I wonder how Renice Prebus will dodge questions about this.
This. It is the only explanation for the “I got mine, fuck you” attitude representative of right wing that makes any sense. It is decidedly un-Christian but fits perfectly with their Randian interpretation of biblical teachings. Problem is, a lot of these people wouldn’t even survive in Rand’s ideal world, they are not clever or talented or particularly intelligent, they’re losers lining up to be fucked over by republicans, in return for propping up their fragile egos with fairy stories.
For the love of dog why?
Thoughtful Black Co-Citizen
And who can forget the first time we discovered the difference between boys’ and girls’ … bicycles?
A question: Am I the only one who wonders why WE didn’t get the bikes with the lowered center bar?
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
and with this, brooks, who must have(maybe?) read the same rolling stone article i just did, missed the entire point, as far as i can tell.
shorter: blame the teenagers for the world they live in.
really, in the rolling stone, not david brooks, article, the girl comes across as a fairly typical misfit teen, with everything that entails. and everything that has meant for however long teenagers were expected to have their own culture.
what is different, is how she expresses it. its still 13 year old behavior, with a large side order of what they fuck is wrong with the parents, but that isn’t new either. the only thing that is new, is how this teenager was able, and enabled to feel all those things such a teen would want to, through the internet.
the social media is what is different, the two-way access, the way there are people putting these sorts of things on display for their own pleasure and profit. kiki through it all is shocking and saddening because she seems so typical, a typical kid(with an apparent talent for dress-up, packaging, fashion or what have you) reacting to the latest way adults have commoditized youth.
me @ 46.. Why didn’t Justice Ann Walsh Bradley file a complaint with the police? What a horrific story, the guy needs to be arrested if true, and it does sound like there were witnessed.
edit….I could not download the file..can someone tell me what that adds to the story?
No, I’ve often wondered that myself.
According to the link above:
If it’s true that Bradley asked him to leave her office and he responded by putting his hands around her neck in front of witnesses, impeachment might be the least of this guy’s problems.
It is telling that nobody is saying anything to confirm or deny anything. On the other hand, Bradley is keeping her cards close to the vest too. Perhaps they are all waiting for a police investigation to play itself out. Or perhaps they are all – assaulted and assaultee alike – hoping that it all just gets forgotten.
Of course, it could be that the story is misleading in one way or another. But if it is accurate, and you have to expect that more stories will start coming out. People who do this kind of thing once rarely have done it only once.
JPL: guy sounds like a fucking lunatic who needs to be removed from a position of authority in short order, if fucking lawyers can keep from strangling each other, judges should be able to show some self-restraint.
the fact that Prosser refuses to comment is damning
Cripes I just went and looked at that RS article, which includes the photos that Bobo has his bloomers in such a twist over. She looks like a little kid playing dress-up. And for that she and her family were put through hell. What the fuck is wrong with people?
Violet..thank you. Hopefully we will hear something soon. but
@pplci: If Bradley doesn’t file a complaint then I doubt the DA would start an action, although you’re right that there could be other shoes to drop.
btw, DeMint is an asshole At the same time, it’s probably a good thing he is doing this.
I see that you didn’t get a full briefing on the rules of this blog. It is strictly forbidden to use the name Lloyd Blankfein in a sentence that does not include one or more of the following words or phrases: indictment, drawn and quartered, tarred and feathered, torches and pitchforks, or swinging from a lamppost.
This is your only warning.
Thoughtful @49 and Cacti @52. The answer is skirts.
Very true. I had the illuminating experience of watching a DVD of Romeo and Juliet with my 14 year old son who was studying the play in English class. (A young Alan Ryckman as Tybalt — my son said “Hey! It’s Severus Snape!”) I was about 14 when I studied the play in English, and all I could remember noticing were all of Mercutio’s boner jokes. (“Teeeheee. He said “play with her maidenhead”…) But watching it as a parent it seemed to me that the message was that kids are going to act like self-destructive, impulsive, hormone-intoxicated idiots no matter what happens, and it is the job of the adults around them to prevent catastrophe. The various parents and nurses and friars created the tragedy by acting like children themselves.
The message Brooks seems to have taken from the play is that 13 year old girls should be more careful, what with all the deadly nightshade around nowadays.
Shawn in ShowMe
Could you imagine what a misfit 13 year Emily Dickinson or an Oscar Wilde would have posted on their blogs back in the day? Oh, the horrors!
Davis X. Machina
Ah, middle school.
I suggested once that every teacher in the district rotate through middle school, but on a time-limited basis, and only volunteers return for a second or subsequent year.
One of the older teachers said “Hey, that’s just like ‘Nam.”
Which was sort of what I had in mind.
@harlana It’s not the ONLY thing that explains the modern Conservative Movement. There’s also the idea that it’s basically one big troll-fest, in the name of the culture wars. To them, it’s about winning as much as they can, or at least fighting to win as much as they can. It doesn’t matter if what they propose are good ideas or not, if they can win with them it proves their power.
Not that I’m disagreeing with the threat of encroaching neo-calvinism. It’s both there. And both are perfectly consistent with the worship of a glory-seeking god, in fact, they’re a natural result of it. And anybody who claims that it’s wrong for Christianity doesn’t know their religion.
They just think it’s wrong because they don’t believe the stuff about a glory-seeking god. They dismiss that and believe in a more vague “higher power”. But yet they refuse to actually argue against those who DO believe in the glory-seeking god, and condemn those who DO argue against it.
I think it was supposed to be about clothing (i.e. skirts), not anatomy.
Yeah, the source article in Rolling Stone didn’t show me societal decline so much as the absolute dumbest, most permissive parents I have ever seen in my life. Who the hell lets their 13 year old daughter post lingerie photos online and date an 18 year old guy because they “feel sorry for him”? Here’s a pro-tip, if indulging your daughter’s online fantasies sends your entire family into hiding and then bankruptcy, maybe you should have been a hint stricter.
It’s odd how each generation is decaying rapidly before the eyes of the previous, on back to the earliest writings we have.
Of course, any time I want to know more about the science of sociology, anthropology, and psychological development, I turn to David Brooks.
@ El Cid: How do you say “You kids get off my lawn” in Sumerian?
Dickinson was such a private person that she would probably have a NoFacebook page.
Wilde, on the other hand, would have delighted in the Internets. Not only would he be the most charming blogger evah, but his snark would put everyone to shame. Just shut everybody else down. For example:
That Oscar, such a scamp.
Thoughtful Black Co-Citizen
The higher bar is to inflict pain if you don’t pay attention. Girls get the lower bar because nothing should ever touch those girly parts.
So much so that he went to jail for it. Poor lad.
Brooks is behind the curve on this burning issue.
To quote GW Bush, “I liked the Beatles until they got all weird”. Art Linkletter’s daughter committed suicide after Sergeant Pepper inspired her to ingest LSD, you know.
The Prosser story has been picked up by WSJ..must thank Think Progress for the link
RE: That Oscar, such a scamp.
Yes. And the epitaph on Wilde’s tomb is quite sad:
This is such a constant with Brooks that it could serve as his epitaph.
You could make a recipe for a David Brooks column that consists of starting with some vague readings in social sciences, ideas collected and linked in his ambling half-baked style, none of which anyone could really object strongly to, followed by some bone-shatteringly abrupt leap across the chasm from all of that to some firm, utterly absurd non-sequitur of a conclusion that he thinks can be derived from the first part, e.g. there was no sex before people wore blue jeans.
Or maybe the blue jeans example was George Will. Hard to keep these moralizing Victorian half-wits straight.
JPL’s link at 74 is to the Wisconsin State Journal, not the Wall Street Journal, as I’d wondered.
Any BJ thread that slams David Brooks and celebrates Oscar Wilde is good in my book.
Elizabelle, whoops I should have been clearer about the link.. I just went on google news and besides liberal blogs and Wisconsin news sites, it has not been picked up. I do think it has legs though since he has not denied it.
Brooks has a point, you know. The breakdown in respect for our betters is because electronically-mediated communications has prevented us little people from being able to smell their scent and reflexively submit. And women’s menstrual cycles not being keyed to those of–I don’t know, Mona Charen–and being all over the map led to women’s lib. Also.
Whenever BoBo’s name comes up these days, this is what I remember:
Hey there, JPL. Not chastising you at all about link.
Just thought that if a Murdoch paper had picked it up, that would be cake.
Welllll. I guess I’ll have to read the Rolling Stone article first, and then, maybe, Bobo’s take. Maybe not too.
Vice Principal called it:
So true. But it works; he’s on PBS’s The NewsHour and NPR all the time and people either ignore or miss the 180 in the last paragraph where he veers from where the evidence is really taking him. Cognitive dissonance?
Hard to keep these moralizing Victorian half-wits straight.
Especially when most of them are in the closet. And I’m SO stealing this description.
arguingwithsignposts: those quotes from the book are priceless, Bristol Palin is a better writer
re comment 80:
OMG. That actually IS Bobo prose?
It’s right up there with bears having sex with children and aspens turning.
Maybe these dudes should stick to writing ideological fiction.
Why, I remember back in the late 60’s, when we rolled in the mud and smoked weed at Woodstock we did it in freshly pressed tuxedos and ball gowns. There were adult chaperones to make sure we didn’t get too vulgar, and none of the women’s dresses rose up higher than mid-calf — because we were respectable then, dammit! None of this goddam attention-provoking new-fangled multi-tasking for us!
I wonder if Brooks writes this stuff with a keyboard or a quill?
As a 50 yr old Teen Librarian in Los Angeles, I am often amazed at the amount of things teens have to deal with today, especially in the gang ridden impoverished neighborhood they live in.
I do not see any Country Club Junior Republican teens here, but I’m sure Bobo does, well coutured and always with a compliment like “You’re looking quite dapper today, Sir.” Kids are kids, and always have been. If Brooks wasn’t such a self-centered, pretentious ignoramus tool he’d know that too.
In any particularly exasperating situation I confront with teens, which is to say, daily, I am comforted by something I read 20 years ago. It was a several thousand year old sanskrit letter from a country farmer father to his student son in the local city. Basically the father chastised his son for hanging out with all his no-good friends, getting too often drunk on wine down by the fountains, and ignoring his studies to chase girls.
From a deep study of history and human nature I can say one thing for sure, that the only things that change in the arc of human life are the props. For reals.
@ agruingwithsignposts I read the crappy bit that was in the New Yorker and couldn’t believe anyone would write that crap… from the link you posted… it looks like they left the ‘best’ parts out…
someone needs to lock Brooks up in a room with no view, he’s clearly nuts.
“without learning the distinction between respectability and attention”‘ the moron doesn’t even realize that he’s comparing unlike items. it isn’t respectability and attention, he’s talking about the difference between adulatory notoriety and calumnous notoriety (infamy), what an ignorant, condescending douche.