This cartoon was drawn by the remarkable Nadine Scholtes.
I don’t believe in generations.
Or at least, I don’t believe in generational personalities. It’s like astrology; it’s fun to make huge sweeping generalizations about big groups of people. More than fun, it’s sort of a human instinct. And as harmful as this instinct is sometimes, it’s probably not too harmful when it comes to astrology. Or generations.
And now that I’ve typed that, I’m filling up with doubts. Surely going through huge events – like 9/11, or the Great Depression or the rise of the Internet – has an effect on people’s personalities?
Maybe. But on the other hand, it’s not there was only one generation around and being influenced when 9/11 happened. There are six living generations, as they’re generally measured, around at any moment, and all of them are potentially being changed by big events.
Plus, it’s not as if any of us have a mass mind. (Not until Lex Luthor succeeds in creating his massmindification device, anyway). So, sure, I went through a lot of stuff other folks of my age went through, but that doesn’t mean I have much at all in common with most of them. Honestly, I can’t even make conversation with most people my age. (Or any age.)
But one thing that is eternal is that a lot of folks in older generations – and, having had my fifty-fifth birthday just yesterday as I write this, I have to ruefully admit that I’m approaching “older generationhood” myself – will be absolutely convinced that the current young adult generation is ruder, stupider, and less capable than their own generation was.
It’s silly and wrong. But on the other hand, those young adults will have their chance to grow old and condescend to the youngsters, too, so in a way it all evens out.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels. Each of the panels shows the same two characters; a doctor, who is a white man in his forties, and a patient, who looks to be in his sixties at least. We’re in a medical examination room; the patient is sitting on the examination table, while the doctor stands.
The doctor is holding an otoscope (which is that thing they use to examine ears). (Did you know that thing’s called an otoscope? I didn’t, I had to google it). The patient is not yelling or anything, but he’s sort of ranting a little.
DOCTOR: Hold still while I look in your ear.
PATIENT: i bought a coffee and this young “barista” was so rude!
The doctor, wielding the otoscope, is peering into the patient’s ear with an expression of concentration. The patient is warming up to his rant.
DOCTOR: Mm hmmm
PATIENT: i swear these millennials are the worst!
The doctor has crossed the room and is putting the otoscope away in a drawer (which means I won’t have an excuse to repeat the word “otoscope” in the next panel, alas). He has kind of a bored expression. The patient looks very surprised by what the doctor is saying.
DOCTOR: Actually, sir, I’m a millennial. We’re old now.
The doctor is now holding a clipboard. (Instead of an otoscope.) (Ha! Found an excuse!) The doctor is looking amused, while the patient looks affronted, with his arms crossed.
DOCTOR: Yup. We’re all picking on gen Z now. but in a few years we’ll switch to gen Alpha.
PATIENT: Dammit! Why didn’t I get the memo on this?
Chicken fat are meaningless details that cartoonists sometimes put into cartoons to amuse ourselves. In this case, there’s a framed poster on the wall in the background. In panel 1, the poster has a realistic image of a human heart, with the caption “YOUR HEART” and then in smaller lettering “is kinda gross looking.”
The poster isn’t in frame in panel two. In panel three, the poster shows a cartoon doctor (who looks like a Muppet to me) glaring out at us. The caption says “Please tell the doctor your self-diagnosis you found online. Doctors love that.”
In panel 4, the poster of the doctor is still there, but the caption has been replaced with a lot of tiny, tiny text. The tiny text says: “I can’t believe you’re reading this tiny print, it’s not at all interesting. Watch tv instead. I honestly feel a bit guilty putting this here because I’m totally wasting your time. It’s just meaningless background text. On the other hand, it’s not like you’d be curing cancer if you weren’t reading this. But that’s okay. You’re good as you are. Read tiny print if you want to.”