Social Question

longgone's avatar

At what age do people typically start to believe that society is on the decline?

Asked by longgone (17090points) June 2nd, 2015

It seems like the complaints of our society’s decline are age-related. I hear complaints about the weather, manners, youth, culture – usually, the people who make these complaints are quite a bit older than I am.

I am not saying all people over, say, fifty, are prone to whining. Young people complain, too, but I think they often have other topics. They seem to complain about their families a lot, as well as their partners and their money problems. This may just be my impression. I’m interested in yours: What do people your age complain about? Do you hear young people bemoaning the loss of manners or respect for the elderly? Do you think you, yourself, have started to think that things used to be better, “back in the day”?

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21 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

I don’t think I notice an age trend here. But it seems that from 14 people start to complain. Teenagers complain about families and schools like you said. As people grow older their complaint become more “abstract”, like they complain about life, the goverment, youth… Not all of them are about “back then it used to be much better”, but more like “why the hell doesn’t it work like I want it to be?”

By the way those who complain about the government tend to be delusional or need to get a life.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m going to say age 35 is significant. I think many factors affect it. The brain is more aware of consequences, most people have school age children by then, most people now see their childhood in the far distance, and most people start to really be able to see older age in the not too far distance.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Very astute and pertinent question. I was in my early 50s when I noticed that I had taken up my father’s theme song- “the country’s gone to shit”. It gave me pause because back in the days when he was whining I thought things looked pretty good. Optimism is evidently a trait limited to youth. Either that or both dad and I are men of genius. yeah, that’s the ticket.

johnpowell's avatar

I’m 40 and I just did this..

The kids have never had it any better.

According to the numbers there has never been a safer time to be alive. Crime is actually very low but CNN is very loud.

My grandpa fought in WW2 and my dad was in Vietnam. I went to Lollapalooza.

rojo's avatar

I think it is cyclical. Most people start complaining about societal problems in their late teens, then by the mid to late 20’s have adjusted to life, start worrying again in the mid 30’s which lasts until they are about 45ish when things once again look up, they start declining again in their 50’s when they again become convinced everything is going to hell. this one is a longer one lasting until their early 70’s when it all becomes rosy again before plummeting one more time in your mid 80’s when you realize it really doesn’t matter to you any more.

Looking at it, it seems to relate to children.

The first stage you are coming of age, big changes in your lifestyle, leaving home, being on your own, taking responsibility for yourself for the first time.
Early married life brings an upswing, things are going your way. New job, new wife, new kids You stay fairly positive. You are comfortable in your career and can provide for your family.
As your children begin to reach their own teen years your outlook once again turns negative perhaps reflecting the views of your children, perhaps due to the additional financial stresses of providing such things as a college education for the ungrateful seeming offspring and it doesn’t become positive again as they leave home to begin their own lives.
As each successive child leaves the nest it becomes easier and your outlook improves.
Then you start worrying about your retirement and whether you will be able to be comfortable and you start the downward slide again but, your children begin to have grandchildren and you start looking up again and retirement is finally here so all is right with the world.
Then you start worrying about the money again. Can you afford to keep your home? Taxes keep going up, prices keep rising but you are now on a fixed income. Where is the extra money going to come from? And it doesn’t help that your grandkids are now moody, depresssed/manic teenage knowitalls and then they are gone, to make it on their own and you realize that it all really doesn’t matter and that life goes on within you and without you and that is a positive thing that gives you a positive outlook on life in general.
Then your spouse gets sick, the money gets tight, it is hard to remember things, surely it was better and easier when you were younger.
Then you get to thinking, your time here is short, too short to spend it worrying and depressed all the time so your latter years bring a spring back into your step.
And they you die.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Well I remember lying in the maternity ward and thinking these newborn pussies don’t do anything but cry.~

Bill1939's avatar

Change is the one constant in life. Most things that the young experience are new to them. However, the older one gets the more differences between what they have known and what is happening becomes apparent. The experience of significant change generates angst. Where on the continuum of age that one is unable to accept change depends on the individual’s ability to adapt.

Pachy's avatar

I think it depends on various factors, not least, one’s early influences. My younger brother began to become quite cynical about societal and governmental issues when he was in his 20s; he took after my dad, who was a confirmed iconoclast and quite outspoken in his views. I, on the other hand, was more like my mom—extremely naive about how things worked. I was in my late 40s or 50s before I caught up with my brother.

Blackberry's avatar

These kinds of people are usually southern or midwestern, are usually religious, and believe in old fashioned values. They are often very sheltered, doing things like using mainstream news outlets to determine their view of the world, and subsequently concluding that everywhere is dangerous so they become xenophobic and don’t make an effort to go many places because of this. They watch the nightly news and look for news of shootings and violence so they go “See! I told you the world is going to hell in a handbasket!”

josie's avatar

These days, complaining seems to be a phenomenon that crosses all age groups.
But civilzations do in fact decline.
Jaques Barzun wrote a terrific book on the life cycle of civizations, using the West as an example. In my opinion, it should be required reading.

whitenoise's avatar

I’m not there yet… Will let you know.

ucme's avatar

When the old bastards begin saying “eeh, back in my day…”

Coloma's avatar

Meh…I’m in my mid-50’s and the last thing I want to do is whine and bemoan the state of affairs of the world, the trouble with todays youth, ( my own daughter put me in my place once as around age 18 when I was cautioning her about drinking, drugs, sex etc.) and said….“MOM! you were way wilder than I am!” Couldn’t argue with that being a 70’s girl. My daughter never used Cocaine, LSD, engaged in massive amounts of casual sex, aaah, the 70’s. lol
I long ago gave up my idealized view of how things “should” be.

Personally I think it’s all perfect because it is reality, and reality is always perfect even if we don’t like. Argue with reality you suffer.
If anything I have noticed my ambition is totally in the toilet, everything now is a “been there, done that” gig. Short of jumping out of an airplane I’ve pretty much done it all and all I want these days is peace, rest and stimulating mental entertainment. lol

Strauss's avatar

I’m closer to 70 than to 60, and I don’t think the world’s gone to shit. Now, politics, that’s another story, but that is cyclical.

or maybe that should be cynical!

Berserker's avatar

With some people, it seems that once their generation is over, they dismiss everything that doesn’t come from it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Oh sure you little underaged trollop.

jerv's avatar

I’ve been sawing it since about age 11, but I’ve always been a little ahead of my time.

St.George's avatar

I’d say 14. It’s when you start to see what the world’s really like, and plus you’re a teenager and angry anyway. Which is good.

ibstubro's avatar

I was disillusioned with the American political system when the Democrats could not field a candidate better than George McGovern against the embarrassment of Nixon in 1972.

Like @jerv, I was jaded at age 11.

MannyD's avatar

I thought my generation was pretty great, up until people my age started to become drug addicts. 20–22

longgone's avatar

Thanks, all, I like this thread!

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