The armrest on the bus was stabbing me in my side. The seat on the small van was too small
A long time ago, I had this friend. She moved.
One day, I went to see her. She drove me around. There was a problem. It would eventually end our friendship. When she drove, she didn't hold the steering wheel. She did everything else. She ate. She drank coffee. She made wild hand gestures. When the car started veering into another lane or off the road entirely, that's when she touched it barely enough to correct course. I thought I was going to die, and she thought my anxiety was hilarious. That's when I realized something. I'd never been in the passenger seat with her.
Over the months, I noticed something else.
She lived how she drove.
Now that's us.
You've heard about the bus driver shortage, and you've heard about the burning man. You've heard about the TikTok bans. You've heard that they want to make it legal to work in a bar if you're 14 years old.
Collectively, all this tells us something.
Nobody's driving the bus anymore.
There's not even a bus.
Let's start with something simple. Everyone wants to know why there's a bus driver shortage. They're stunned. Well, the job sucks. The drivers don't make enough. Want bus drivers? Pay them more. Stop infecting them with diseases. Adults don't think like that, do they?
Everyone wants to know why teens are crying on their phones. They talk about the mental health crisis. They ask what's going on.
Well, teens are sad.
They're sad because their president promised to forgive student loans and then said, oops, the government won't let me.
They know better.
He's the government.
They're sad because robots are going to take their jobs. They're sad because they have to play dead in the hallway. They have to pretend to watch their friends die in mass shootings, because one day it might happen. They're sad because startup bros in Texas want to sell them armored backpacks.
Yep, that's their idea of a solution.
Sure, their grandparents were scared of getting nuked. Nuclear bombs weren't going off in their classrooms every day.
It's a little different.
Why are teens crying on their phones all day?
They're crying because their parents want them to waste four years of their lives studying for tests while the world burns right in front of them. They're sad because now you can die if you fall and burn yourself on the sidewalk. They're sad because emperor penguins lost 90 percent of their babies this year. They're sad because it was 100 degrees in South America, during winter. They're sad because they know adults who say, but it's always hot down there. They're sad because a bunch of tech bros want to float balloons filled with sulfur into the atmosphere, which could either cool the planet or kill us all even faster.
Where are these solutions coming from?
Ah, yes. The tech bros.
Yes, the same bros who stranded themselves in the desert. The same bros who tried to go deep sea diving in some crappy little homemade submarine. The same bros trying to build a utopia in a state that insurance won't even cover. The same bros who thought we could colonize Mars. The same bros who spent millions of dollars on little pictures and called them tokens.
Yep, those tech bros.
Why are teens crying on their phones?
The adults don't want to do anything. They don't want to take anything seriously. They don't want to think about the future.
They want to party.
The adults saw Italy and Greece on fire. They said, I'm not canceling my vacation. They went there and got stuck.
They had to be saved.
The adults watched an entire city burn down in one night. They shrugged and said, you can't blame it all on climate change. They said, what am I supposed to do, buy less plastic? Lol, that's not happening.
A climate protestor went on the news in Britain and tried to warn everyone about wet bulb temperatures and heat stroke. The news anchors started snickering at him. They told him to grow up.
Do you know what our politicians did recently? Nope, they didn't declare a global climate emergency. They didn't read a bunch of scientific articles on deadly diseases and how to stop them. They didn't come up with a plan for how we're going to deal with any of that.
Congress held a hearing about UFOs.
Do you know what else they did? No, they didn't manage to end any wars. They didn't make any progress on carbon emissions.
They tried to ban TikTok.
In Wisconsin, they're trying to make it legal to work in a bar if you're 14. Across the country, they're trying to make it legal for kids to work construction jobs. They want kids working in fast food restaurants and meat packing plants. One kid already lost his hand in a sawmill accident.
Adults believe kids can't be trusted with phones, but they can be trusted to keep the economy going. They can't be trusted to vote, but they can be trusted with a bunch of shitty, dangerous jobs. The adults believe we don't have a choice. The glorious economy already worked their parents to death.
Now it's their turn.
If you want to know why teens are crying on their phones, that's why. That's the source of our mental health crisis.
The teens aren't worried about aliens. They aren't worried about spy balloons. They aren't worried about microchips in their vaccines.
If anything, they hope aliens show up.
They hope aliens descend from the stars and incinerate our broken governments. They hope aliens can fix the planet.
They hope aliens decide that humans can't be trusted with anything. They hope aliens kidnap them and take them aboard their spaceships, then fly them off to a habitable planet lightyears away. They hope they wind up working for vastly intelligent, intergalactic travelers.
That would be nice.