I used to love watching MTV’s The Real World when I was younger. It was fun watching seven strangers at first be polite and syrupy to each other, then, as the show progressed, start yelling and going at each other’s throats. Personality clashes made for very good entertainment, indeed. However, with each passing season, the show’s cast of characters seem to be getting stupider and sillier. Is it because I’m older and more mature (in teenspeak: clueless)? Or is it because kids these days seem to have lost a sense of accountability for their actions?
Need a recent and popular example? Look at Paris Hilton. She gets arrested for DUI and driving on a suspended license. Now she is going to jail and she decries her sentence as “cruel and unusual”? She even went as far as establishing an online petition to ask California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon her, which was met with some amusement. **eyes rolling**
A friend forwarded me an email about the “Rules of Life.” Perfect timing, I thought, what with all the high school (and college) graduations coming up ready to sprout out the next generation of “spoiled” kids. In that forwarded email, Bill Gates supposedly gave a speech to a high school. I’ve copied the content of the email:
BILL GATES’ RULES OF LIFE!
Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this! Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a high school graduation about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
Even though Bill Gates is considered the epitome of Rule 11, the truth is, he did not give this particular speech. That credit goes to Charles Sykes, the author of Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, or Add. Yes, the title alone is a mouthful– or signful. Sykes mouths off about some interesting things in his book. If you want to know what they are, buy it. This isn’t a book review. Here’s a few more rules to ponder:
Rule 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.
Rule 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven’t seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.
Rule 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You’re welcome.
Let me throw in a rule of my own: If you wear clothes full of holes, people may think your story is full of holes. If the kids wearing ripped up clothing think it’s oh so cool, let’s see them going to a job interview like that. Appearances DO count towards the perceived trustworthiness of a person, like it or not.
Another friend chimed in with one of her rules: “You may want it badly today, but you’ll forget about it tomorrow. A year later, you’ll regret wasting your money/time/energy on it.” That particular piece of wisdom came from her experiences in high school and college. She now applies that wisdom to shopping. “My personal rule is when I see something that I may like, I keep it in mind and wait three days to a week. If I remember it, I’ll buy it. If I forgot about it, well…it’s obvious.”
I think nowadays we have a sense of entitlement and “want-it-right-now” without any serious elbow grease or sacrifices. Both the young and the young at heart can take the above rules to heart. These lessons have yet to outlive their usefulness, and don’t end with whatever milestone(s) you’ve set/established in your lifetime. So kiddos, in the spirit of Rule 10, wake up and smell the coffee! Then get up from your seat at the coffee shop and go to work!
Got any rules you follow or any advice to give to people to help cope with life in the REAL world?