top of page

The young should be wasted

When the world was younger and greener and coastal towns were not filled to the brim with retirees, films such as Soylent Green (1973) and Logan’s Run (1976) dealt with the theme of disposing of old people. They should be vaporised at 30 to avoid the drain on resources in our future cities (Logan’s Run), or turned into much-needed food (Soylent Green).
Now it is time to turn the tables. Instead of forcing people to sign out at 30, we should produce films of future societies where individuals simply do not matter until they have reached 30, and then they barely register.
Vaporising young people or turning them into food is a bit extreme, I admit, especially as they will eventually turn into marginally useful older people, but individuals who try to speak before they reach the magic age of 30 and, let’s face it, 40 or even 50 would be better, should be put out of the room.
As well as there being no reason to preserve older people, there is no reason to think, as some misguided commentators would have us believe, that young people are the voice of tomorrow, or have some sort of special insight that they lose when they get older. There is no need to convene special taxpayer-funded forums to hear what they have to say, or set policies to encourage their participation in local government.

In other words, it is time for the cult of youth – with all the worship of youth it seems to entail – to come to an end. For young people are simply younger versions of their parents, with variations, but with less experience. If the parents are daft, then there is a good chance that their children will also be daft, but will be less likely to realise it.
Take the scare stories that have abounded in the media in the past few years about how we have only five years to take action before the world’s eco system reaches a tipping point (usually it’s five). The parents will have noted the same stories, but may have a vague recollection of hearing a similar story 25 years previously, albeit with a deadline of 10 years, or if they live in south- east Australia they may remember being told in 2009 that the drought of the time was permanent just before two years of flooding. Experience counts for something.
As for the peculiar notion of wanting to involve young people in public affairs, perhaps by encouraging them to be on local councils (there have been suggestions to this effect), it’s bad enough when their parents are involved and at least they have experience.
Then there is this even odder notion that young people are somehow the voice of tomorrow. As noted, they are more or less younger versions of their parents so if you want to know what the youth of today will be thinking in 20 years’ time, then why not ask their parents what they think today.
Not only do we have nothing to learn from young people, we also do not have any reason to understand them, as commentators also occasionally urge us to do. Instead, why don’t we make young people understand their elders? Why not make them attend classes to hear about prostate problems, menopause, the difficulties of dealing with retirement and grandparenting issues? Those who don’t attend can be turned into fertiliser.
A less costly idea (fertiliser is still cheap) that will not generate nearly as many protests from relatives, is to simply let young people go off and do young things. This may include a range of puzzling activities such as going overseas to work (this means they go away), falling in love (messy, distracting), breaking up with partners (boring), lining up all night to get the latest smartphone and rock concert tickets (why? ) and backpacking through Europe (exhausting, inconvenient).
Above all, they should not be enthusiastic and bounce around the office before their elders and betters have had that vital first cup of coffee for the day.
The first of this new set of films could be entitled “Mature people strike back” (let’s not say old or aged) and should be set in a utopia where young people are never seen and never heard

bottom of page