For generations of American teenagers, the car was the paramount symbol of independence. But in the age of Facebook and iPhones, young adults are getting fewer drivers’ licences, driving less frequently and moving to cities where cars are more luxury than necessity.
From generation to generation, less kids are growing up learning the skills necessary to be independent. Fewer kids are learning how to repair and maintain things themselves. From the earliest ages, kids are being indoctrinated to leave things up to the “professionals” and not to try to deal with them themselves…from self-control and emotional issues, to problems with social interactions, to basic things like repairing a faucet or changing the oil in your car, to medical insurance, being prepared for unemployment or retirement, kids are not learning how to deal with things and handle things themselves, but are learning to depend upon “society” to fulfill all their needs.
The trend reported above is just one sign among many…and probably not one of major import in the big picture, but it’s a sign nonetheless.
When I was a kid, virtually everyone’s first car was an older model that needed a lot of care and maintenance to keep on the road. One of the major features (and some of my fondest memories) of my teen years was a bunch of us getting together very regularly to help a friend replace a clutch, or rebuild a carb to keep their car running.
These days, not only are kids not learning how to do those things, in modern cars, many of those things are very difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish without tens of thousands of dollars worth of diagnostic equipment, special tools and training (and cars don’t have carbs anymore any way).
Gone are the days when a kid could buy a $500 klunker and keep it on the road with ingenuity, baling wire and duct tape. The “hidden” costs of owning a car are higher as well. The costs of insurance are higher, taxes for the “privilege” of owning and driving a car are higher. Traffic law enforcement has morphed from a tool to keep people driving safely into a tax collection scheme and cops are rewarded not for improved traffic safety statistics, but increased revenues. Gas taxes have gotten ridiculous to the point that the government makes about 20 times off the sale of a gallon of gasoline than the people actually producing and providing the commodity do.
And just the general attitude of the society that no longer values individualism, but celebrates collectivism and dependence.
Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon and am wasting my time reminiscing about the “good old days” (that were not without challenges of their own), but it just seems sad to me and I think American culture is losing something as a result of it.
We’re rapidly becoming the land of the dependent and the home of the timid. And we’re not better off for it in my humble opinion.