It took just six hours for a Reddit post called “What’s Something Your Parents Always Believed In That Was Completely False?” to get more than 12,000 comments. Apparently, everybody’s parents were easily fooled–or at least suffered some blind spots. Rock and roll used to serve youth by answering questions like this–the whole rock genre/movement was built on escaping your parents’ misconceptions–but these days our answers lie not with rock stars but with all of us. (Not in our stars, but in ourselves!) Today our answers are crowd-sourced and one of the great modern pleasures is seeing so many of them. The answers may have been blowin’ in the wind in the Sixties, but now they’re on Reddit!
A lot of what dumb parents had wrong in the Reddit responses is computer related. “That the computer is broken again because I used it one time last year,” was something many people’s parents irrationally believed. Then there’s stuff in the “shit my dad says”-type category, like “My dad thought you would get aids from your poop splash back.” Yes, big ignorance, like big data, has a way of penetrating, persisting. Irregular pronunciations also irk offspring. (“My mom calls Walgreen’s, Walgrens. Bugs the shit out of me.”) And of course danger lurks everywhere. (From “Sleeping with a fan on will kill me” to “going outside with wet hair would make me sick.”) Then there are imagined dangers that truly do endanger: “Vaccines cause autism.” This long, long thread of mistaken parental beliefs makes for fascinating reading. And it brings to mind a lovely little grain of salt to keep in mind from Mark Twain, who wrote: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”