There may be something to the age-old trope of the hardened elderly American and the often-paraphrased “back in my day…uphill both ways” argument after all.
For eons, the joke has always been that the last generation will always have it tougher than the next. This is all due to the movement of consumer technology along purely luxurious lines, making every recreational activity in America become easier and easier as younger Americans come to discover them.
The list of examples is enormous: Robot vacuum cleaners, cellular telephones, satellite communications in general…etc., etc.
We can trace much of this luxury-over-necessity path to the future displayed in the animated sitcom The Jetsons, that originally aired in the mid-1960’s with a brief rehashing in the late 1980’s. In the cartoon, the titular family of future-dwellers relied on fantastical devices to turn nearly every household task into a push-button solution. Food was prepared from scratch in moments thanks to a mysterious kitchen appliance, (not too unlike the InstantPot of today), and a robotic maid patrolled the sky-high, floating apartment acting both as a Roomba and Apple’s Siri.
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Thanks to this push for comfort over conditioning, First World human beings just don’t face the adversity that they used to. This has, in large, reduced the number of skills that one must maintain in order to survive our in our current society.
Now, this overt cushioning of life in general has led to a bizarre problem in the U.S. Army: Soldiers who can no longer throw grenades far enough to not be killed by them.
“The United States Army will no longer require recruits to show they can throw hand grenades 25 meters because many of them can’t throw the explosive far enough, it revealed on Friday.
“The Army says that starting next summer it will remove the requirement from its Basic Combat Training because it takes too much time to teach enlistees to throw grenades at an adequate distance.
“The new policy was reported by Military.com.”
Could it really be as pathetic as it sounds?
Why, yes. Yes it can be that pathetic.
“‘What we have found is it is taking far, far too much time,’ said Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, the commanding general of the US Army Center of Initial Military Training.
“‘It’s taking three to four times as much time … just to qualify folks on the hand grenade course than we had designated so what is happening is it is taking away from other aspects of training.’
“‘We are finding that there are a large number of trainees that come in that quite frankly just physically don’t have the capacity to throw a hand grenade 20 to 25 to 30 meters,’ he said.”
While we can’t wholly blame a 1960’s cartoon for this lack of extremely basic skills, we can certainly see how a life of recreation and luxury, spurred on by technology, is contributing to the wussification of the world.