The latest stupid viral video making its way around Facebook is “watch kids react to a Walkman.” The video was made by a series called “Kids React.” In the segment, kids are shown an old fashioned Sony Walkman and asked about it. Of course, since kids are not taught critical thinking skills anymore, almost none of them can figure out what it is or what it does. When told it plays music, the kids start mocking the device, saying their technology is vastly superior and that they feel bad for “people who had to live during the 90s.” One girl says “Wow, you actually have to, like, do things” to get it to work. Imagine that! Actually have to use the brain to do things! To today’s kids, that’s unthinkable.
When did it become cute and hilarious for kids to not know things or not be able to use deductive reasoning to figure things out? When did it become awesome that kids are so myopic that they have never noticed anything but the games in front of their faces at that very moment? Some of these kids were in their early teens; an age when they should know what a Walkman is as well as a gramophone, a record player, a tape recorder and a cd player. It is not something to laugh about when kids don’t know the basics of music, and that includes knowing which devices were used throughout time to play it. That’s called history.
Apparently, we have come to a place in society where the more kids don’t know, the funnier it is. The more they mock and deride old technology, the more justification people feel for their own gadget addiction and the fact that their kids don’t know very much about the historical significance of such technologies, or how those technologies shaped the future.
Was the Walkman the perfect piece of technology? No, but neither was the gramophone. However, their being antiquated does not make it funny that kids don’t know what those devices are and how musical technology evolved over time. It is not funny to have no context for technological advancements and no knowledge of the societal and historical significance of great leaps from one device to the next. Do childen even read anymore? Do they watch movies from any other time period than their own? Do they watch old tv shows or delve into history books? Are they being routinely exposed to a depth of knowledge that is expansive and wide in scope? If so, they would know what a Walkman is. The video tells us not that kids are adorable and funny, but that they don’t read, don’t use their brains very much and, and one the girls in the show pointed out, don’t really “do things.” Their devices do everything for them, so they appear to have lost the ability to use deductive reasoning to sort through and solve problems.
Most adults living today never used an abacus, but they know what it is. Similarly, no one tells time by using a sundial or an hourglass, but would anyone think it is hilarious for people to not know what those devices are and to mock everyone who used those instruments ? Imagine showing a teenager a sundial and watching them laugh at it and say “I have no idea what this is.” Would that be funny? Or would the adult showing them the device feel compelled to explain the history of time-telling instruments? The technological advancements of every age are significant in shaping the future, and being stupid and ignorant about those advancements is not funny, it’s sad.
No one should be celebrating the fact that the Walkman is being mocked by stupid kids. Instead, the video should give pause to anyone concerned about the education system in the United States and how it is failing our children to such a degree that everyone thinks kids not knowing about a Walkman is adorable. The video has been seen over three million times. Stupidity has become so normalized that it’s become accepted and even lauded, and that is a shame.
Opinion By: Rebecca Savastio