Kids Today: Quote from Socrates?

I remember a quote I received 16 years ago via e-mail — back in the days when you couldn’t verify things through Snopes, Google or Hoaxbusters. To put this time in perspective, a girlfriend challenged me to find the original name for Winnie the Pooh and it took a phone call to Disney’s librarian to get the answer (Edward the Bear).

Here’s the quote (which took me 45 minutes to find via Google because I couldn’t remember that it’s attributed to Socrates):

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. 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 tyrannize their teachers.

It’s widely reported that this quote below was spoken by Socrates (and written by Plato), and this was further legitimized by this source: Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L. Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277 (1953).

But the folks on Google Answers doubt it’s authenticity, and point to this information as sourced on

This passage was very popular in the 1960s and its essence was used by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Gijsbert van Hall, following a street demonstration in 1966, as reported by The New York Times, April 3, 1966, p. 16. This use prompted Malcolm S. Forbes to write an editorial on youth.β€”Forbes, April 15, 1966, p. 11. In that same issue, under the heading β€œSide Lines,” pp. 5–6, is a summary of the efforts of researchers and scholars to confirm the wording of Socrates, or Plato, but without success. Evidently, the quotation is spurious.

So what’s this got to do with online video, Nalts? It’s the context of today’s “Kids Today Suck” video, where I react to a series of playfully insulting birthday wishes from online-video creators. (Parenthetically, I’m still wiping the makeup and latex off my face, hoping to spare my kids the trauma of waking to a dad that’s even older looking than usual).

My video reflects what I believe is an important insight, and there are other historical quotes on Google Answers that back it up that make it less important as to whether Socrates said it or not. When we perceive children as disrespectful and lacking exercise we are observing a timeless truth. So put ’em in perspective before you beat yourself up or, worse yet, them.

There are at least two 2-word statements that make me gag — especially when they come out of my own mouth. “You need” and “these days.” When I catch myself thinking or saying them, it usually prompts some reflection.

Thanks to all of you for your birthday wishes! You blogged about it, created a new YouTube channel with several dozen thoughtful and humorous wishes, and created the funniest birthday “collab” I’ve seen. You even pushed my recent “Soap Candy Prank” video to the number one comedy of the day on YouTube, with more than 300 comments and high ratings. Life’s a roller coaster but I tend to believe it gets more enjoyable with time — like a fine wine. Unless of course the cork rots. πŸ™‚