Better than any moisturizer or an old pair of pants that suddenly fit you is the moment you don’t understand the reference that a person a little older than you just made. Each generation does it to the generation that preceded it.
“That must have been before my time,” we love to say, as if we were putting the person in a nursing home.
It is always a daunting experience. A poor guy is talking about some old TV show or band with unbridled enthusiasm, lost in a nostalgic reverie about the thing he likes so much, and the younger person has no idea what he’s talking about. They watch like a confused dog who turns his head from side to side and comment, as if stabbing a dagger, “That must have been before my time.”
The guy falls backwards a few meters and a single tear falls from his eyes. “Oh,” usually he just manages to reply.
When spoken or received, the line is similar to a woman mentioning that she has a boyfriend or a boy announcing that he is a policeman. Create a sudden distance between two people and establish clear demarcations and boundaries. In this case, one has been established as the old man and the other as the young man. They can never return to their former innocence.
Where young and old find common ground
Everybody does. I’ve heard people in their 20s say this to people in their 30s, and I’ve heard people in their fifties say this to people in their sixties. Sometimes it’s obviously sarcastic and done with the open intention of breaking balls, but other times it’s totally sincere and underhanded and is said with a cold expression on his face.
The phrase is inherently weird because so much happened before our time: World War II, the Spanish Inquisition, Jazzercise, yarn, but not all of us pride ourselves on not knowing about those things. Maybe it’s a little different with pop culture.
Each generation loves to annihilate the collective cultural experience of the previous one while canonizing its own. We all need to believe that our window of time is the most important. That’s why, every ten years, people love to talk about how the world Really it will end during their lives.
It’s not because they really believe that; it’s just ego thinking that such a monumental event would have to happen during their lifetimes. it won’t. The world will move on and people will see many beautiful sunrises and updates from Apple long after your death. I am sorry.
The good oldie times
Youth makes us overly romanticize the pop culture we experienced when we were skinny and pretty and trample on another culture we didn’t experience because the world hadn’t been graced with our presence yet.
I have said “That must have been before my time” to others and they have said it to me. Once I was arguing Godfather II and a friend muttered, “I haven’t seen it, it was before my time,” adding to the big topper, “I didn’t grow up with it.”
And I was like, “Yeah, I didn’t grow up with Godfather II either, but I have this ability to look for things that happened a while ago.” Then I took him for a long boat ride and only I came back. He would probably still be alive if I had seen him.
You don’t necessarily have to be proud of knowing nothing (for the most part), but don’t take too much pride in dark knowledge either, and understand that it’s foolish to expect successive generations to relate emotionally to what you grew up with. Even if they know about the reference you just made, they will never care in the same way.
All of this is part of the reason why I look forward to creating perfect AI robots. They will never say something as cruel as “That was before my time.”
Instead they’ll say, “I have total knowledge of all recorded human existence in the digital age, so yes, mortal human, I saw that episode of company of three. “
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