Risking to sound far older and grumpier than I am, I’d say that culture today is something that’s completely wasted on our youth. I base this statement on a number of facts that I’ve been observing for quite some time now, but what encouraged me to write a little blurb about it was this conversation I heard on the train today. Picture two girls, perhaps 15, talking about their German exams. They appear to be reading Kafka right now. Keep in mind that we’re in German-speaking territory, so Kafka is certainly an ordinary read in school at that age.
We’re joining our pair as they are discussing probable exam topics:
Girl 1: “Well, with Kafka I would get a good grade! He doesn’t use so many foreign words!”
Girl 2: “Oh yeah! Hell, I know! That other guy uses lots of them! It’s so shitty, you don’t understand shit!”
Girl 1: “But people now keep telling me that I have to learn foreign words too. But then I think maybe I would get used to them, and I don’t want to, because then I’d start using them myself! And nobody would understand me anymore because you just don’t understand foreign words!”
German, if spoken even with the slightest hint of eloquence beyond the requirements for being a McDonald’s burger flipper, is chock full of foreign words. I’m quite sure that I cannot relay the shock I’m feeling about the above conversation into English properly.
All of this is not just an isolated incident, I think it might be a symptom of something deeper. One of Switzerland’s largest newspapers, the NZZ (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) has a writing style roughly comparable to that of the International Herald Tribune of the US. Several people my age have complained to me that they are not capable of understanding the NZZ’s articles, and that the NZZ therefore is “stupid”.
With that, I rest my case.