News Article

The Year I officially became old

Whitney Pastorek laments the fact that she no longer ''gets'' what the ''kids'' and ''into''

Not chronologically old; at 32, I'm just a year further along than I was before, after all. But this was the year that, for the first time, I looked around and realized I no longer ''get'' what the ''kids'' are ''into'' — and that my use of the phrase ''I don't get what the kids are into'' has lost most of its irony. It appears that at some point in the last 12 months, pop culture — or what's left of it — completely passed me by.

As with most problems in life, I blame the blogs. Rather, I blame the fact that I spent the early days of 2007 writing exclusively for EW.com's PopWatch blog, where I passed the time hopping down the Internet bunny trail, researching things to write about. I did not like what I found. Here was poor grammar and, OMG, pidgin English comprised largely of abbreviations! Here was stolen music! Here was a popular website operated by a transparently narcissistic creature making hateful comments about people he didn't know while utilizing crude Photoshop skills to draw bodily fluids on their pictures! Mostly, here were the children, who I once believed to be the future, spending all their time figuring out how to make the background of their MySpace page as ugly as possible! I was terrified. So I got a MySpace page. But I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it, and soon abandoned MySpace for Facebook, where at least I can play Scrabble with my friends.

You know who plays Scrabble? Old people.

It's not just the Interwebs that's making me feel old. TV is in on it too. I find the majority of current programming either completely insulting or unfathomable, two characteristics that have taken up permanent, symbiotic residence on MTV. MTV, my generation's salvation. MTV, the current generation's ongoing documentary project about how to spread herpes. Let's skip over the commercials featuring talking pubic hair and go right to the biggest debacle of the year, i.e., the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. To me, the show's most heinous crime had nothing to do with Britney Spears and everything to do with the sheer incomprehensibility of an awards show where hardly any awards are handed out because the network is frantically directing viewers to online footage of ''musical'' ''performances'' happening in ''suites'' where everyone seems to be drunk, and the sound is so bad one might as well be running CDs through the garbage disposal. Worst of all was the sinking feeling that I was watching the future and would have to spend the rest of my life conscientiously objecting to the universe.

I'm still trying to isolate the exact moment things turned sour for me — the canary in my elderly coal mine, if you will. Was it when I needed earplugs to survive a recent Panic! At the Disco concert? Was it the involuntary twitch that attacks my right eye at the very thought of going to see a blockbuster at the local teenager-plex on the night it opens? Was it the way my first attempt at playing Guitar Hero resulted in a long rant about how all the time and energy people were putting into the videogame could be just as well spent learning how to play an actual guitar, and that we're raising our children to be button-pushing monkeys? Or was it that long, lonely Friday night a couple of weeks ago that found me curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, watching Women's Murder Club? Sub in Murder, She Wrote for the show title and ''dozens of cats'' for the tea, and I think you'll see why I am freaking out.

Sure, today I am sitting in my office wearing a My Chemical Romance sweatshirt and listening to the Shout Out Louds and feeling somewhat with the program — but one need only breathe the words ''Kardashian'' or ''televised dance competition'' near my door to send me into a rage spiral that's but a porch and rifle away from screaming at the kids to get off my lawn. And in 2008 I'm just gonna get older, but the children will stay the same age. And then they'll start calling me a witch behind my back and stealing the hairpins out of my wig while I'm asleep. So, like — what's the emoticon for ''just shoot me now, because next thing you know I'll be agreeing with Andy Rooney and eating dinner at 4:30''? I'd like to post it as my Facebook status as soon as possible. For reasons I don't understand, this is how we live now.

God, I'm old.

Originally posted Dec 21, 2007 Published in issue #971-972 Dec 28, 2007 Order article reprints