There is never a worse time in life than being a teenager or tween. Everything feels momentous. Your body is out of control. Your brain is a carousel of nightmares. Your friends are a-holes. Everything is the worst. You’re like a hardened inmate looking to get back at the people who put him away — you feel like you’ve got nothing to lose. I sympathize. We’ve all been there. (And obviously not all of you are like this.) But man, oh man, I get it. Being a tw/een is the suckiest.
And to the rest of us in society, you are freaking terrifying.
1. Mob mentality/ susceptibility to peer pressure
I’ve seen enough movies where teenagers goad each other into murder to know that whatever your friends — or like, the strongest alpha in the teenager group — tells you to do, you do. Have you guys seen the 2001 film Bully about a bunch of teenagers who murder their psychopathic teenage friend? That is a true story. It happened in my hometown.
There’s this dangerous game of escalation that goes on with teenagers. It’s animalistic in nature. So…base. They’re constantly one-upping each other. When I was a tween, I rode in a carpool with a few other tweens and teens and we just flat-out tortured each other. I had bruises, personal property was broken, every little thing was mocked — there was this delight in causing trouble and pain. But it was all because we each had an audience in each other. Separate, we were angels. Together, we were Hell’s Angels.
One teenager is scary enough, but when you see them in a pack like raging hyenas? I am not sticking around for what happens next.
2. Grew up on the internet
Teenagers now grew up on the Internet. They’ve seen things, man. They’ve seen Vietnam-level sh-t just sitting at home on their family computers. An average day was looking at pictures of dead bodies on Something Awful and then watching a porn clip where a woman sticks five dildos up her behind. And that was all after Math Club, but before piano lessons. Teens are totally desensitized and, subsequently, are probably all tiny sociopaths.
The only way for them to deal with everything they knew at such a young age is, I guess, to burn cats or try to get high from “smoking” banana peels. The Internet won’t teach you sympathy or remorse, teenagers. You’re all cold-dead robots now, thanks to the web.
3. Unpredictable behavior, yelling
Oh my lord, what is with the yelling? SO much yelling. All the time. Every place. Everything they say is shouted at such a volume I’m surprised spontaneous avalanches don’t just start around them. Whenever a teenager, or god forbid a group of teenagers, gets on public transportation with me, you can bet there’s gonna be some yelling. I see them board the train and I tense up like I’m walking through a live minefield. My eardrums prepare themselves to weep. I gear up for unpredictable screaming. “Just don’t make eye contact,” I think, shriveling into myself.
My theory is you’re so loud because you all want to have sex with each other, but you don’t understand what sex is yet. Being loud won’t drown out the sound of your rushing hormones, teens. WE CAN ALL HEAR YOU.
4. Everything is a disaster
You will never convince a teenager that what just happened wasn’t the worst disaster of all time, oh my god, please kill me, my life is over. I mean, even the smallest thing is an epic horror for the ages. Lizzie McGuire had a whole episode on the massive shame of buying a bra, which at the time, I was all, “Yes.” Now, I’ll buy a bra off the street in full daylight, who cares, it goes on your boobs, whatever. Talking to a teenager is like trying to rationalize with someone drunk off tequila — they’re these terrifying bundles of rowdy emotion and they can not be controlled or confronted with logic.
If you find yourself in the wake of a teenage meltdown, try…I don’t know, climbing a tree or playing dead? Basically the same steps for getting away from an angry bear.
5. Making me Feel irrelevant
In college, my roommate and I had an inside joke where whenever we saw a gaggle of teenagers, we’d stop and ask them, “You guys like the Jonas Brothers?” It was a funny reference to feeling out of touch with the youth — even as we were still technically youthful. It was an ironic “dad joke.”
These are becoming less and less ironic and more and more “I am actually on the same wavelength as my parents now.” I consider myself pretty savvy but pit me against my 19-year-old sister and I become a legit grandfather. Every time I see her, she’s got some new thousand songs I’ve never heard that “obviously everyone knows.” (I don’t know them, girl. I don’t know them.)
Don’t laugh at me, teenagers. I can’t handle your derision and mockery. How is it that I wasn’t cool when I was one of you — and I’m still not cool now? Ya’ll like hashtags?! YOLO! Do we still say “SWAG” or did Justin Bieber kill that? Is Justin Bieber still a thing? OH GOD SOMEONE KEEP ME FROM THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH. IT APPROACHES. IT APPROACHES SO FAST.