Kids aren't less likely to achieve because of iPads

Carlos Acosta felt inclined to make a statement about the younger generation, but it doesn't contain any truth

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The Independent Online

That’s it. It is the end of days. The last great deeds have all been done. We are now reduced, for the short while we all have left, to staring into our smartphones in amazement at all the wondrous things humanity used to be able to do.

“In the new generation the passion and the commitment has diminished. Everything has to be easy,” mourns 40-year-old Carlos Acosta, the great creaking grandfather of the ballet. “And ballet is very, very hard.”

“With phones, computer games and DVDs kids are always distracted, always entertained,” he has pronounced. “If you have so many other things to help you make it through life, why try hard to achieve anything?”

Yes, it’s true. Farewell to Arts. The baton of human progress has been laid down upon the altar of Candy Crush Saga, and the kids these days just don’t care.

Except, of course it hasn’t. As with every generalisation older people feel inclined to make about younger people (and vice versa), it contains not a grain of truth.

First of all, the fastest and most fundamental shift in the way the world functions in the last few years has been the kids leaving the adults for dead. If a great prancing ballet dancer had been put in the same Harvard dorm as Mark Zuckerberg and his pals, he would no doubt have castigated them too for wasting their lives on their computers.

But more to the point, in sports and drama and performing arts, for the most part the bright stars emerging all over the world have 10 times the ability and the dedication of those that went before.

Tennis is gleaming in the most golden of golden ages of ability to which the only comparison in the whole history of sport might be the heavyweight boxing era Ali, Frazier and the others.

Has Cristiano Ronaldo - whole stones of pure ripped muscle heavier than his already brilliant teenage self - been crippled by an addiction to his smartphone? No. Becoming arguably the greatest footballer in the history of the game is probably, like ballet, “very, very hard.” Yet somehow he’s managed it, and maintained an active Twitter account at the same time. A miracle.

Mr Acosta may be concerned that there seems no natural heir to his ballet throne, and that the world still waits for “the next Darcey Bussell.” He is probably right. But these things have a tendency to move in cycles, and the causes are myriad. One will come along in time, and, whisper it, he or she will probably be on Facebook (or whatever some 15 year old genius has replaced it with).

In the meantime, the kids are taking an awful lot of crap from an awful lot of directions for an awful lot of reasons at the moment, and yet they keep tweeting away, keep winning gold medals, smashing world records, headlining rock concerts, and becoming violin virtuosos, so the great demi-plié downturn might not be their or their iPad’s fault.