It’s becoming an annual tradition. The day after Christmas, we round up lists of teenagers who are disappointed with their holiday gifts. Buzzfeed brings you, “People Who Didn’t Get They Wanted For Christmas,” and “22 Of The Most Ungrateful Teens This Christmas.” Gawker contributes, “Christmas Sucks: Spoiled Brats Whine About Their Free Gifts On Twitter.” By the way, aren’t gifts by their very nature free? Soon, news outlets will be editorializing about our entitled next generation who feel like they deserve iPhones and iPads and xBoxes as a human right.
It feels great to sit around and trash those horrible, bratty teenagers and their idiotic social media posts. We all love having someone to complain about. But for a second, can we all just acknowledge that teenagers have always been whiny jerks, they just didn’t have such a large platform to share their crappy attitudes?
Come on guys! Lots of teens are ungrateful. Lots of teens have always been ungrateful. I’m not proud of it, but I can admit that there was a time when I might not have been the most thankful teenager ever. More than a decade ago as an obnoxious and entitled little girl, I was privately annoyed that my parents shopped for my Christmas presents at Kohl’s instead of Abercrombie & Fitch. Now, I feel really horrible for that immature lack of awareness.
The difference between then and now is that I never told anyone about my private disappointment. But I didn’t grow up in the time of social media, where you shared every individual thought with your friends on Twitter. Where a bratty teenage girl might have written her disappointment in a note to her friend at school, now she scrawls it on the internet for the whole world to see.
Don’t get me wrong, these teens are being horrible. They’re being ungrateful and entitled and the worst caricature of spoiled. But they aren’t exactly a new breed. They’re following in a long line of horrible teenagers that came before them. And while some of those brats grew up to be self-centered, narcissistic adults, lots of them grew up to realize the error of their ways.
These “Look At The Horrible Teens!” lists have become quite popular in the past few years. There are whole websites devoted to chronicling racist kids. There’s a debate brewing about whether we should be outing these misbehaving and offensive teens to their parents and schools. In some way, it’s like we’re trying to teach young people that what they share on the internet has consequences. In others, it’s like we just enjoy pointing out how terrible kids are to make ourselves feel superior.
In a wave of left-over Christmas spirit, let’s bypass the outrage and condescension in this post-holiday season. Let’s just shake our heads at the spoiled teens and pray that they learn their lesson soon. Instead of making hyperbolic statements about the downfall of society, how about we just accept that teens are often bratty jerks that will soon grow up and have to purchase things for themselves. At that point, they might start feeling a tad more appreciative. And we can all knowingly nod our heads in understanding and let them in on the joke of sad, spoiled teenagers.