Cranky old men are timeless | Our Corner

While listening to a professor discuss the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates this weekend a couple of things struck me.

It occurred to me it was no wonder the Greeks knocked him off. He dressed funny and almost never took a bath. One of the writers of antiquity said his wife was a shrew. Can we blame her? He made no money, dressed in a muumuu and smelled like rotten Greek yogurt.

The official reason the Athenians gave for killing off Socrates was he was a bad influence on the kids and made up goofy gods. Nothing like tyranny in a democracy. My, how things have changed.

The other thought that hurt my feeble brain was a dialogue of Plato’s where Socrates discussed writing. Socrates said writing would ruin the youth. He said it would weaken the  youth’s verbal ability and memory.

That darn writing.

As far as we know Socrates never wrote anything. Everything we know of Socrates comes from Plato and Xenophon.

If Socrates was walking around today in his muumuu I think he would be making the same argument about texting or Twitter or Facebook of the Web or TV.

I suspect old guys like me and Mr. Muumuu like to whine about something and remember the good old days, which weren’t.

I have been reading Web reports lately that kids don’t like Facebook anymore because old people have taken it over with pictures of the same kids who don’t like Facebook anymore.

I have yet to read anything about where the kids are going now on the Web. Maybe they have read Plato and have stopped writing, or posting.

I went to a newspaper conference a few years ago and there were a bunch of hand wringers standing around whining about the demise of newspapers and reporting the sky is falling because, “kids not reading anymore.”

I suspect the kids aren’t reading what those guys were writing. I have found kids read when it matters.

Critical thinking skills are often lacking. I see examples of that in my job almost daily and always from adults.

I think I need a muumuu and some rotten Greek yogurt for my oatmeal.