Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

That’s what the sign at the Statue of Liberty says, right? No? America isn’t Dante’s Inferno? Damn. I thought that’s what all this making America great business was, i.e. an effort to be the setting of a Dan Brown novel. Regardless, we can agree we’re just as awful – and strangely alluring – as his work.

The post title is actually my translation of this NYTimes article, “Leave Your Laptops at the Door to my Classroom.” It’s how I imagine students would respond, at least internally, to that request if I were to make it. Actually, it’s my translation of other people’s assumptions about how students would respond. I don’t think they’re so intractable, nor so enslaved by their technology. If anything, they’d experience relief. Finally a social setting where it doesn’t matter! Besides, I’ve seen adults be way more beholden to their devices, precisely at the moments when they’re acting like Scooby Doo villains, busy wagging their palsied fingers at “those damn kids.” And they effectively are Scooby Doo villains. They’re trying to trick youth into being afraid of the world, and they’re doing a really shitty job at it. Even a group of hallucinating hippies with a talking dog could see through silly adults’ charades. We’re just terrified to admit that young people (what a weird label) are way smarter than we are. (And we were already way more intelligent than Jesus and Alexander the Great…well, more full of shit information at least.)

I shifted from they to we there quite recklessly. I’m of the age to qualify as an adult, but I’m not into the socially conditioned mindset that just because I’m this thing called “an adult” that I’m inherently better than that thing called “an adolescent.” Fundamentally, we’re both this thing called “a human being,” and that means we’re both pretty stupid. And also pretty creative and brilliant. We’re stuck in the middle, waiting to be inclined one way or the other. Too often, the thing called “an adult” pushes the thing called “an adolescent” away from their nascent creativity and brilliance and into their purportedly natural stupidity; in the process, adults fall into the trap they were trained into. Instead of growing into creativity and brilliance, they stay stupid and welcome their kids into the mix. The devil you know…

Abandon all hope before ye enter…where exactly? How about the mental space where age matters? If you decide to enter a world where being an adult is important – without question – and being an adolescent is awful, turn around, find that hope you were about to leave behind, and never look back. Beatrice ain’t that great anyway, man.

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