Get Off My Lawn: Becoming A Grumpy Old Man

There is a scene in Zac Efron’s latest We Are Your Friends where DJ Zac accompanies his crush Emily Ratajkowski to a party being thrown by some of her former Stanford friends. I feel comfortable telling you all of this because I was one of 12 people that actually went to see We Are Your Friends last weekend and so if you want to come with a “Dude – Spoiler Alert!” right now, I’m going to fight you.

Anyway… Zac and Emily are at this party where the Stanford grads look extra preppy to offset Efron’s Valley-chill, EDM DJ vibe and he makes a quip to his equally out-of-place and uncomfortable gal pal that the hosts “spent like $200 on cheese.”

It’s supposed to get a laugh, I think, but my reaction was the opposite. I wanted to tell slacker-ass Efron to shut the hell up because if the people who’s party he crashed wanted to spend $200 on cheese, they’re damn well allowed to spend $200 on cheese because they’ve got jobs, make money, contribute to the world and can spend $200 on artisan cheeses if they so please.

In sharing my thoughts on that scene with my wife as part of my response to her innocuous “How was your movie?” inquiry after work, I realized something: I’m a Grumpy Old Man.

Officially, I’m 36, turning 37 in October. Send presents. Nice ones.

I’ve officially reached the point where I start sentences with the words “Kids these days” because, well, kids these days.

We Are Your Friends actually inspired this essay through more than just that solitary scene about cheese. The whole approach to how things panned out for DJ Zac drove me into full-blown, Old Man yells at cloud territory because here was a creative slacker looking down at people that had actually achieved something (the cheese scene) who then had all his dreams come true with minimal effort.

As someone that has worked hard to turn my passion for writing into a bunch of freelance contracts (and a very supportive, amazing wife) that allow me to stay home and pursue this hustle on a daily basis, seeing DJ No Drive get his big break just because was annoying, even if it was a movie and I knew that was how things would end up.

As someone who has been asked innumerable times, “How can I do what you do?” only to have the follow-up question usually be something about skipping the hard part and moving right to the cool stuff like getting paid to go to the movies and talking to professional fighters, the “find your passion and don’t worry about chasing it too hard because it will all work out anyway” message We Are Your Friends gave off represented the dangerous shift we’ve seen in society over the last decade.

Earlier this summer I wrote about “Entertainment and the Sense of Entitlement” in this space, talking about how people feel they deserve to have whatever entertainment options they want, regardless of if they pay for them or not. The sense of entitlement extends beyond just watching US Netflix and downloading movies.

It’s not completely fair to paint with broad strokes, but there is a large segment of people in their 20’s that want to have everything in the world and have no desire to work for it. They’ve seen too many no talent, no job, no effort reality TV stars turn into millionaires and now becoming famous for nothing in particular has become an actual life ambition.

At least DJ Slack Zac had a hobby that he was into and spent one night a week on the electronic turntables at the local to get his name out there and make a couple bucks. Too many people these days don’t even want to work that hard and that’s not even remotely close to what previous generations would consider working hard.

Somewhere between the time I finished university and now, the idea that you had to work to acquire the things you wanted in life got lost. I blame the Kardashians and I’m only partially joking when I say that.

Paris Hilton can get some blame too. So can tabloid media, the phrase “Internet Celebrity” and all of us that helped turn The Real Housewives of Various Places into household names.

We need to get back to having a proper work ethic and appreciating what it means to earn something, not have it handed to you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shout at the kids in the neighborhood for playing their music too loud while I’m trying to work.

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