Can Tweens Be Said to Have a Zeitgeist?

I was navigating the crowded aisles of Safeway last Saturday when the need for canned pumpkin and yeast necessitated a visit to the baking aisle. For the uninitiated (i.e. the people who have never been fat) a formerly fat person who’s recently worked her butt off views the baking aisle with a wary mixture of yearning and distrust.

You smell the glorious carbs and think, “It’s just a box of cake mix. What’s the worst that could happen?” The next thing you know, it’s midnight and you’re sneaking downstairs to eat cake out of the trash because it’s SO FREAKING GOOD and you told yourself you were done with it but now you can’t stop thinking about it and just one more bite and oh, I might as well finish the whole thing and now DANG IT MY PANTS DON’T FIT ANY MORE.

I bet you didn’t know that the baking aisle is basically just a big, loaded crack pipe for people who are trying to lose weight, did you?

tumblr_inline_mklb76kQLe1qznyfeAnyway, I’m keeping my head down, just trying to make it out of the treacherous aisle with my dignity, when two tweens flounce toward me. One of them excitedly grabs a bag of marshmallows and squeals, “This is why I Instagram so much!” She then positions it against a colander, whips out her phone, and takes a picture of her lovingly posed puffs of sugar. I bet that bag of marshmallows has never felt so sexy.

All I could think of as I walked away was, “Isn’t this the reason she should probably quit Instagram?” I wrote about this on Facebook and my mother commented that she didn’t understand what any of this meant. To be honest, I’m not really part enough of the zeitgeist to get it either.

The cynic in me wants to posit that today’s youth is just substituting pictures for text. The girl in the aisle is relying on filtered images of marshmallows to tell a stronger story than if she actually had to explain what about the marshmallows made her so excited.

This is possible. Or maybe there’s a better explanation out there. Maybe this is artsy and a signal of profundity to come.

All I know is that she took a picture of a bag of marshmallows and it seems to me a terrific waste of time and bandwidth. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the Internet implodes, disgorging terabytes’ worth of cat pictures, memes, and pictures of peoples’ food.

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