"The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for
authority, they show disrespect to their elders.... They no longer
rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their
legs, and are tyrants over their teachers."
Attributed to Socrates via Plato 488BC
"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on
frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond
words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and
respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise
[disrespectful] and impatient of restraint"
Hesiod 8th Century BC
"In today's society, and at younger and younger ages, people are increasingly horrified by the rude attitude and foul language used by young people of all ages. From the five year old who defiantly puts her hands on her hips, lifts one eyebrow and declares to her mother "You're stupid, and I don't have to do what you say" to the four letter words that erupt from the mouths of teenagers, lack of respect for one's elders appears to be increasingly prevalent. How then do we engage (or even demand) the respect of our children? And how do we encourage them to show respect to others as well?"http://www.parentinghorizons.com/node/109
For as long as Western Culture has had recorded history we have had old people complaining about the young. Every generation, no matter how close or far apart, pisses and moans about how "Kids" today have no respect for their elders, talk to loud, have no modesty, are useless, shiftless, lazy, indiscreet, and hornier than a sack of cats in heat.
What if we're biologically predisposed toward rebellion during puberty and shortly thereafter?
We know that teenage rebellion is common to the point of being expected. To the point that we warn people away from having kids because of how hard it gets before they hit 18. Our teens and young adults are often idealistic, explorative, creative, and angry about a world that doesn't care about them.
And we could easily chalk that up to Modern Society and the way our culture's social mores press upon their minds to create a sense of entitled foolishness... But it's been happening for at least 3,000 years. There was no Twitter in the Renaissance and there were no iPhones when Rome fell. But there were rebellious teens trying to change the world. Being reckless and idealistic and marvelous.
And that you can't chalk up to modern culture.
Every generation in America for the past 100 years has been more tolerant, better equipped to handle technology, more inventive, and more willing to accept change. The IQ test is a great example. It measures pattern recognition in subjects and year after year the average IQ in this nation has to be reset to a new baseline (100 is average) that is steadily higher than ever before.
So I posit this idea: Rebellion is a genetic trait. It is designed to alter how people interact with each other and the society around them, rather than being a genetic trait that adapts people to an environment. And this trait's specific purpose is to foster and foment Cultural Evolution.
Each generation, the rebellious teens push the boundaries of what is acceptable. Boundaries that need to be maintained or can't be pushed, yet, are locked in place for when those rebellious teens have kids and their kids grow up. But those kids become rebellious teens that push the boundaries and find out if there's room to grow in a given direction.
If it can grow in that direction the teens grow up and hold the boundary where they pushed it, while their children push hard, to see if that boundary can bend further. And so on. And so forth.
Each successive generation genetically predisposed to rebel, culturally encouraged to rebel against specific ideals, to see if those ideals are culturally or socially needed or just boundaries that exist because they haven't been pushed hard enough.
And then, in the modern era, boundaries are getting pushed faster than ever before. An outcome fueled by population growth, social media and increase communication abilities, and increased access to powerful technologies.
... Maybe I'm just blowing smoke out of my ass (which is a neat party trick) but I like to think that is, in part, what is happening. And I hope I never reach the stage of setting hard boundaries.