The Graying Of The Fun Crowd
An opinionated tweet recently provoked a strong reaction. That happens many times a day and is hardly news. This Twitter firestorm caught my eye, though, because it shows how people today are coming from profoundly different views of life.
The tweet was first brought to my attention by a post by Jake Meador on Mere Orthodoxy. What numerous people read into the tweet by gives a clue into just how divergent strains of thought about very fundamental aspects of life have become.
Millennials who are very cavalier about not having children are in for a shock when they enter their 40s & realize life is only half over. What do you do at that point? Keep trying to be sexy & have fun? I expect to see a lot of sadness & confusion about what to do at that point.— Shane Morris (@GShaneMorris) August 23, 2022
Many people responded by defending their late-stage sexiness. Still others attacked Morris under the assumption that he wanted to have kids to keep himself from being lonely in middle age. Though nuance is not something best done on Twitter, Morris would admit not everyone is cut out to have kids. When a large plurality of people don’t understand the generative instinct, though, it may signal a problem.
Meador explains some of the confusion.
What was striking about the backlash to Morris’s comments was how critics read into his remarks. Virtually all of his many, many critics read him as suggesting that children are essentially a consumable good we create to console ourselves and deal with our own loneliness and unhappiness as we reach middle age.
But that’s not what Morris said, nor is it how Christianity imagines the life of the family or the purpose of children. And the imaginative failure of virtually any of his non-Christian critics to understand this points to a core failure of our day, I think. It’s not as if Morris was describing some hitherto unimaginable way of living in the world; he was describing something that describes the way most human beings across time have lived.
That last sentence from the quote is what gave me pause. The way most human beings have lived across time is now beyond understanding by — judging by the responses to the tweet — many people. This brings to mind Emile Durkheim’s concept of anomie, where norms are not known or expected. Durkheim, who is considered the father of modern sociology, predicted dire consequences for societies that fall into this kind of social disorder.