Last September I blogged about why I don't like to use the word "kid" when describing younger music fans. I still agree with my views, but I have some more to tell as I've noticed/remembered some stuff in the last few weeks. Again, I don't fault people who call them that, but I'm always looking for a word other than "kid" when describing someone who is a few years younger than me. Honestly, I don't understand how I, a 27-year-old, could call a 17-year-old a "kid." "Kid" implies that the younger person doesn't know as much as the elder, but come on, when do we really know everything?
For me, I look at pictures of Eric and Amy's daughter Hailey and Jeff and Leah's daughter Sophie Bean and I see kids. Hailey and Sophie are only a few months old and they're just beginning childhood. I don't know how their parents will react when they want to go to live shows of their own, but I bet the parents see a lot of themselves in their children already. The 27+ year age distance between them is a generation, but for some reason, in the world of music, a generation is usually considered ten years. From what I've noticed in the world of punk and hardcore, a generation is as short as three years. Huh? And I thought dog years were short . . .
I just finished an excellent book on straight edge culture called All Ages: Reflections on Straight Edge. Within its pages, "kids" and "straight edge kids" are brought up a lot. Are these guys and girls referring to people that are rolling around on the floor in diapers? Nope, but I'm still confused at how people refer to people that look a little younger than them.
When I first saw a picture of Panic! at the Disco, I thought they were sixteen at best. Turns out, they're around eighteen and nineteen. Looking at this pic, I saw a band of young uns who have a contrived image and no clue about making good music. When I actually heard them, I was mostly right, but I don't think their music is flat-out terrible. I took some slight pity on them seeing that they're fresh out of high school and they just want to play in a band. However, they're in that spot that so many people go through in their lives -- a spot when they don't know what they want to do and think that playing in a famous band is the way to go. I'm not kicking dirt on all younger people who want to tour and do music full time; rather, I have zero sympathy for bands that want to get popular in the mall punk world. The mall punk industry is thriving off of them for the time being while they just want to be a band. When the band's younger audience realizes how bad of a joke so much of this music is, they won't look back at bands like this with sincere memories. Mark my words.
Why I bring up Panic! is that in their recent cover story in AP, they refer to "kids" coming up and talking to them. Pardon? A nineteen-year-old "kid" talking to a sixteen-year-old "kid"? Am I missing something here?
I remember seeing Saves the Day in 1999 and thinking these guys were still in high school. Seeing them play this junior kind of mix of Lifetime and the Get Up Kids only furthered my implications. Well, I don't know about all of the band members' ages, but singer Chris Conley is only a year younger than me. Another example: in the last year, I found out that the Get Up Kids' Ryan Pope is only a few months younger than me and his older brother Rob is only a year older than us. When I saw them play in 2000 with their mix of pop-punk and post-hardcore, I wasn't thinking about their ages. I was so enthralled with their music that their ages didn't matter. What helped was that they were playing songs that I could relate to.
I haven't been called a "kid" in a while. Other than "Eric," I'm sometimes referred to as "man," "dude," "you," "sir" and "mister." They're names that let me know that I am being spoken to. I don't mind any of them, but still, I don't like being called a kid. Though from time to time I like to call my older co-workers "kids" to make them feel a little younger and I sometimes slip and call people a few years younger than me "kids," I try to avoid such labeling as much as I can.
In my eyes, calling someone a few years younger than me a kid implies that this person "doesn't know any better." To push the implication some more: "dumb" and "naive" can be thrown in too. I may have a few more years of experiences on someone a little younger, but I'm not about to imply that I know tons more. We're always growing and while we don't always look young, some of us remain young at heart and recognize ourselves in younger people. We give those people the benefit of the doubt and let them grow on their own terms. That's how I was treated and that's how I want to treat others younger than me.