- I teach at a middle school. I notice that many students, both male and female, wear backpacks that are way too young for them. I see 7th and 8th grade girls with backpacks adorned with Dora the Explorer and Strawberry Shortcake, and I see 7th and 8th grade boys wearing Spongebob Squarepants backpacks. When I was of middle school age, my friends and I would not have been caught dead wearing something that my 3 year old niece would go ga-ga over (she loves Dora the Explorer)
- The final time I went trick or treating during Halloween was when I was 11 years old, and even then, I felt really self-conscious about it. Once I reached middle school age, neither my friends nor I would have dared gone trick or treating. That was "kid stuff", which after elementary school simply wasn't done. Now? Last Halloween, my wife and I greeted high schoolers at our door, dressed up and trick or treating like they were still 8 years old.
- The intentional misspelling of words. This is one of my biggest pet peeves of this whole hip-hop garbage: Boyz, thugz, tha, Timbaland (instead of Timberland), ya self, wit (instead of with), gangsta, gurl, fo shizzle my nizzle, ad nauseum... Once upon a time, being grammatically correct and a good speller was something that people strove for. Now it is a sign of being an uptight chump. When I was doing my Today in History feature with my students not too long ago, I read to them about when Al Capone got convicted of tax evasion. Many kids had never heard of Al Capone, so I told them that he was a gangster in 1920s Chicago. Many kids laughed and tried to correct me - "Mr. Chanman, it's not gangster, it's gangsta." Uh, no kids. I can guarantee you that Al Capone never referred to himself as a gangsta.
- The younger generations intentionally dress themselves as inaccurately as they spell. I have talked about this before too. Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld came up with the perfect name for this phenomenon: the cult of inaccuracy. You can spot a cult member by identifying some very telltale signs: sagging pants that are four sizes too large, t-shirt that is five sizes too large, shoes untied, baseball cap cocked upward with the bill turned sideways. Please, wear the cap backward if you must, but for all that is good and holy, don't wear it sideways.
- Were it not for the wrinkles, I have sometimes had difficulty distinguishing a mother from her daughter as they were walking together. We know that many middle school and high school age girls dress like prostitutes nowadays. What is really disheartening is when you see their nearing-middle-age mother dressing the same way. I always wonder if it is a chicken/egg scenario. Does the daughter dress like that because her mom does, or does the mom dress like that in the hopes that her daughter will like her more for attempting to look hip?
- The discontinuation of dressing up to travel on airplanes and trains. Once upon a time, people dressed to kill while traveling. Now they just dress in whatever. We have lost much of our formality in society, and formality is a mark of maturity.
Good Day to You, Sir