There's an article on NPR right now about music downloading. Well, to be more precise, there's a response by David Lowery to an article written by a college student about music downloading. David raises a number of objections to file sharing and illegal downloading (some of which are really on point, and some of which, I think, seriously miss the mark). I think that David's main points--that musicians deserve to be compensated for their work and should have control over their work--are pretty solid. In particular, I agree that musicians--indeed, all artists--deserve fair compensation for their work. Of course, I don't think that fair compensation and the easy access of music sharing are necessarily mutually exclusive. There's every reason to believe that file sharing and downloadable music should make it easier to get money directly into the hands of the people creating the work. Of course, that's bad news for record labels who have a vested interest in making sure that there are barriers between the people actually making music and the people listening.
But that's actually not my beef with the article.
My main point of contention is with the contempt that David and many of the commentors treat young people. Can we not have a conversation about college aged or younger people without treating them like total shit? I know, I know, this is something of a generational thing--every generation looks down on the generations after them, right? But, seriously, this is David Lowery we're talking about... this is the guy responsible for Cracker. You know, the band with the song "I'll be with you girl, like being low. Hey, hey, hey, like being stoned." His bread and butter was slackers and stoners.
Admittedly, the worst part of the disdain comes from the commenters, who are quick to take his letter about the damage that free music downloading does to artists, and turn it into another "damn those kids these days!" pile on. After all, everyone knows that kids these days are part of "an entitled, 'gimme that now, 'i do it because i can' culture". Or this: "This is an extremely ENTITLED generation whose values include trying to have what they want on demand with no consequence to themselves–zero concern for any but the self, no ability to postpone gratification and so little empathy, appreciation, wonder and love for art–in a word: Narcissism."
This isn't "People who steal are being shitty." This is a blatant and thorough dismissal of an entire generation over song downloading.
I just hate that line of argument so much, but I see it all the time. What is it about getting older that turns some people into such grumps about young people? I'm in my thirties, and while I'd love to think that I'm still young at heart, I know that I'm not really part of the group "young people"; I'm only a few years short of being twice as old as I was when I graduated high school (I'm not sure why, but that milestone--being out of school as many years as I was in school--is really important to me). Still, people who I knew when they were young people end up griping and complaining about "kids these days."
I hear complaints about how kids these days are so rude (from people who I know for a fact were total shits as kids). I have colleagues who complain that "kids don't read anymore" despite the fact that our children's and teen rooms are amongst the busiest areas in the library.
All of us were once young people. I'm guessing that most of us had to deal with adults and older folks looking down on us and dismissing us because of our ages. I know that I had people assume the worst because I was young, and I can't believe I was the only one. Why are we still perpetuating that? I don't expect to "get" youth culture, but I don't see any reason why I should be shitting on it, either. I came from the generation that gave us N*Synch and Pogs and Vanilla Ice. Who the hell are we to judge?