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When Did I Become My Grandfather?

I’m not the kind of person who stresses out about his age. Not much I can do about it, I figure. Plus, the benefits of middle age—like, say, giving far fewer f**ks about pretty much everything—far outweigh whatever advantages youth may once have held. (Honestly, I can’t remember what they were.)

There is, however, one alarming development. With every passing year, I get the sneaking suspicion that—to steal a title from Macon Blair’s directorial debut—I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.

It’s not that everyone is terrible (though I admit there’s an avalanche of evidence that indicates otherwise). It’s stories like this.

Had the video spread no more widely than Royce’s followers, a low-stress exchange of ideas might have ensued. Instead his video quickly garnered many thousands of likes and shares. Supporters deemed the term super-straight an ingenious gambit forcing dogmatic social-justice advocates to live by the same standards they enforce on others. Royce also drew a lot of critics. Haters argued that super-straight was a cruel parody of all LGBTQ people. The video quickly disappeared from TikTok, perhaps because many users flagged it as violating the app’s rules. It reappeared about a week later, presumably after human content moderators reviewed it. That’s when it went massively viral. My TikTok feed, usually a respite of surfing highlights, recipe ideas, and Generation X nostalgia, was overrun by super-straight. Fans and critics alike commented on and shared videos about the subject—or posted their own. “Let me break this down: trans women are women,” declared the TikTok creator @tblizzy, who currently has more than 425,000 followers. “So if you’re a heterosexual man and you said you wouldn’t date a trans woman because it’s a preference, that’s just transphobia, period.”

Here’s the thing. This is something that apparently warrants coverage in a national publication, yet (1) I have only the vaguest notion of what they’re talking about, and (2) even if I did understand, I still wouldn’t care. Oh, and (3) the story pretty much proves that everyone is, in fact, terrible. So there’s that.

Question: Is this what all old people go through?

First you realize that pop culture and social change are moving at such a rate that you can no longer keep up with who’s who and what’s what. This alarms you—at first. Then you realize that pop culture and social change really aren’t worth thinking, let alone caring, about. Relieved, you believe this new, improved attitude will bring you peace and enable you to focus on the things that really matter.

Instead, you increasingly find yourself a stranger in a strange land.



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