Teenagers these days….

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

….don’t know who Osama Bin Laden is.

Naturally the Al Qaeda godfather topped the search engines lists yesterday. On Yahoo, searches about him spiked %100,000.  Here’s the disturbing part:

The 5th most popular search question about Osama Bin Laden was, “Who is  Osama Bin Laden?”

According to Yahoo,” Nearly 1 in 5 searches for “osama bin laden” are by teenagers, many of who grew up during the war on terrorism”. And teens ages 13-17 made up 66% of searches for “who is osama bin laden?”

You can say it’s nitpicking, (or ask who still uses Yahoo), but I think this is depressing on many levels. Epecially if you read Radley’s excellent post the other day on how Bin Laden ultimately won, as he changed who we are as a country, and for the worse.

I’m sure these teens will one day find out who Bin Laden is (if Wikipedia didn’t already clear it up for them yesterday). But they may not know a world without a “war on terror”, including but not limited to:  Gitmo, torture, endless wars, a ruined reputation worldwide, Islamophobia, assassination lists that include American citizens, illegal government spying on US citizens, the TSA, an overall vanishing list of civil liberties, and again, endless wars. Not to mention who the hell knows what else is to come.

And I bet you their parents or teachers wont tell them that all of this was a reaction, and not what we had to do.

On a lighter note, teenagers these days will get to makeout with a robotic tongue.

[Posted by Alyona Minkovski]

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33 Responses to “Teenagers these days….”

  1. #1 |  Angie | 

    At first I thought you were being ridiculous, but then I asked my 14 yr old son. He sorta confirmed that kids in high school don’t know. He knew, but then he has a mom obsessed with the news. He said kids at school, they never talk about such things, and some didn’t seem to know who he was when it was “trending”. So I take back the thinking you are being ridiculous. Clearly not enough parents are involving their children in what is going on in the world.

  2. #2 |  Z | 

    C.S. Lewis did say that fascism will arrive in America draped in the flag and carrying a cross.

  3. #3 |  Aresen | 

    I actually find it reassuring that teens do not know who Osama bin Laden was.

    The fact is that he was a figure of minimal importance, who is only significant because he helped in a horrific act that caused a huge aggrandizement of the US government.

    Otherwise, he is as memorable as Charles J. Guiteau or Leon Frank Czolgosz. [I had to look up the name of the former myself.]

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    This is why I login under my my teen aged persona for searches that might make me look stupid and reserve my real identity for shit I know about (which ain’t much).

  5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

    This may be exactly why enthusiastic supporters of Israel don’t know any history prior to 1948.

  6. #6 |  johnl | 

    Who teaches their preteen children about wars? I was driving the twins, age 10, around home, listening to Marketplace discuss TARP. The commentator talked how it would have been better to allow the invisible hand to spank and choke bad banks. When we got home, my boy wouldn’t go upstairs. His sister explained it was because he was afraid of spankings from the invisible hand. I had to go through the whole pencil story to convince him that, whatever the invisible hand was, it wasn’t going to be spanking him tonight.

  7. #7 |  Rune | 


    Don’t start confusing things here John. It says teenagers, people have been writing about teenagers, so you coming out of left field talking about pre-teens is neither here nor there.

  8. #8 |  BoogaFrito | 

    C.S. Lewis did say that fascism will arrive in America draped in the flag and carrying a cross.

    Actually, it was Sinclair Lewis, but even that has been disputed.

  9. #9 |  MikeZ | 

    My first thougtht on that story is perhaps search engine data isn’t really a good tool to measure things like that. I’d guess at least some teenagers certainly knew the basics of Osama bin Laden, but the search query “Who is Osama bin Laden” produced interesting results for finding facts about him, whereas just “Osama bin Laden” would get flooded with news of his death. Of course typing “Who is Osama bin Laden” now gets quite a few front page hits for teenagers not knowing who Osama bin Laden is.

    The internet really is the modern day library and search queries have replaced the the Dewey Decimal System. I google stuff I know all the time because it takes me to pages where I can get more details on the subject.

    Saying the younger generation are full of idiots kinda just makes us look old and crotchety. They said the same about us.

  10. #10 |  Matt | 

    I’m just surprised there are any teenagers who have heard of Yahoo.

  11. #11 |  Mario | 

    MikeZ @ #9

    I’d like to add to what you said, Mike. It’s also quite possible that teachers in school assigned a current events “essay” (more like 1 paragraph) requiring the kids to explain: “Who is Osama bin Laden?”

    From my knowledge of what goes on in schools, kids only put the single most obvious query into a search engine, and then copy and past the top result. (And then stare incredulously when the teacher accuses them of plagiarism.)

  12. #12 |  Mario | 


    copy and paste

  13. #13 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I’m more disturbed by how many kids don’t know who Kurt Cobain is. Nevermind can’t seriously be twenty years old this year, can it?

  14. #14 |  Invid | 

    I can affirm #11 re school research projects (for the Philadelphia suburbs anyway). A friend of my works at a high school and notes that the ability of high schoolers to do any kind of research is pathetic – they do an internet search and copy the top result…and don’t have a clue how the teachers figured out what they did.

    Give me mixed feelings – I don’t have much competition to worry about from the younger generations, but that won’t prevent them from ganging up and eating me zombie-style when things get worse.

  15. #15 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Teens don’t know who Osama bin Hiding was because the establishment media (NOT just news media) decided that they weren’t going to back this war. There are no TV shows or movies about our brave men and women in the military (about our poor exploited soldiers, yes), there are no comic books about how evil our enemies are.

    And. frankly, that is going to make things worse in the end. We have been at war with the brutal radical fanatics that attach themselves to Islam not for ten years, but for thirty to forty years. Ten years is how long it has been since we could no longer ignore the war. The longer the establishment Liberals deny that the war is ongoing, unavoidable, and not of our making the worse the backlash against them is going to be when the country collectively loses its temper.

    If the country could have gotten behind Bush’s limited war by limited means for limited ends, it would have been much better for the country and for the world. As it is, one fine morning we are going to wake up to a terror attack hat will make 9/11 look like the fizzle that it was. And we will strike out in rage and fear (as the Liberals say we already have, which shows their essential stupidity, frankly), and the world will change for the worse.

    Hell is going to go for a walk with its sleeves rolled up. The anti-war protesters who spent Bush’s terms complaining about Fascism are going to learn what Fascism really is. And so are we. As for the Islamic World, they are going to find out what happens when you anger a nation that is a hundred times better at violence than you are.

    The change that is coming will be bad for us. It will be an unmitigated disaster for Islam.

  16. #16 |  MikeZ | 

    I can completely believe teens trying the most obvious way to get out of doing homework, but I certainly did the same thing. I think thats a universal truth for teens in general. I’m not sure it says anything about their future performance.

    I happen to have been a senior in High School for the first Gulf War, Thinking back on it I’m disappointed that the history teacher didn’t take a break from us learning about WWII and focus on the gulf for at least a few weeks. At least for the school I went to there was no current history taught. So if I had the internet available I certainly would have been googling for background.

    Honestly I’d be more pleased that they are showing some interest in current events, unless as you say its only because a teacher assigned them the task, than the fact they might not already know the information.

  17. #17 |  albatross | 

    CSP: I’m not a TV watcher, but wouldn’t 24 qualify as a TV show about something like the war on terror?

    War coverage seems to me to have oscillated over time from quite supportive (right after 9/11 and in the months right before/after the Iraq invasion, and more recently) to moderately skeptical (late in the Bush term). Even in their skeptical phase, though, they don’t seem to be all that critical, really. I’ve rarely seen anyone on the MSM as skeptical or critical of the war on terror as, say, Glenn Greenwald, and that’s certainly not the normal editorial tone. Indeed, even someone like NPR seems to run some story about how we’re “turning the corner in Afghanistan” every six months or so. (There’s no corner to turn, of course–nothing we can do will make that place anything other than an impoverished hell-hole full of heavily-armed fanatics. At best, we can exert some choice about which heavily-armed fanatics will be on top.)

  18. #18 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Why the US distanced itself from OBL:
    When the name of Public Enemy Number one is one letter
    away from the name of El Presidente, time to switch to the next villain.
    Er…did they ever catch Carlos the Jackal?

  19. #19 |  Maria | 

    While I’ll take any opportunity to disparage the youth of today I don’t think search engine queries are the best indicator of knowledge or lack of it. I suspect that teens are smart enough to know how to get the results they need from search engines. I suspect that many also know of Osama but are fuzzy on the details, just like a scary number of adults… What best way to get those details then ask a search engine? It’s not going to mock you or give you a lecture or even make you do much work for the results.

    Hell, I know what an asteroid is but I’ve also Googled “What is an asteroid” to try and find a simple illustration of the different classification of orbiting bodies out there.

    Wording is key and knowing how to tailor your wording is important to getting to the results you want and are interested in, rather than wading through random results. If they want a chunk of text to copy for an essay or report, that’s what they will aim for.

    As a side note, stupidity is not isolated to the youth. I watched a Polish interview last night with an old military analyst constantly referring to Osama as Obama. The host corrected him a few times until he gave up up and switched to referring to Bin Laden. It was embarrassing to watch.

  20. #20 |  Justin | 

    C. S. P. Schofield that is an interesting story. Have you talked to publishers and movie producers yet? You have all the essential elements: diabolical villains, fearless American (FUCK YEA!) soldiers, and a quasi-historical plot and just the proper amount of paranoia. The title could be Saving Islam and I’m thinking Matt Damon as the lead role, but I understand if you want to go a different direction. Anyways, I think you have a hit!

  21. #21 |  MikeZ | 

    As an aside before this fact, “Nearly 1 in 5 searches for “osama bin laden” are by teenagers”, becomes meaningful, shouldn’t the Journalist publish what percentage of searches are made by teens? It reminds me of the Drivers Ed propoganda from when I was a kid that “Fewer 16 yr olds would die in car crashes if the min. driving age was changed to 17” Yup certainly a true statement but but pretty meaningless.

    Reversing the stat and saying over 80% of web searchs for “osama bin laden” were made by adults makes adults look less intelligent than children. What is their excuse for not knowing the details?

  22. #22 |  johnl | 

    For someone to know about UBL, they have to have been reading the news years ago. Do the math Rune.

  23. #23 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    There are no TV shows or movies about our brave men and women in the military

    Generation Kill, The Hurt Locker, Over There, and that’s just off the top of my head.

  24. #24 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I have to wonder if they even know who Evil Bert is.

  25. #25 |  Judi | 

    True story:

    November 2010 I took my best friend, her 18 year old daughter and my son to Florida.

    While in Florida, we went to The Kennedy Space Center.

    First question out of this 18 year old girl’s mouth (I swear this is true):


  26. #26 |  johnl | 

    Before 911, I had never heard of Evil Bert. Even regular Bert doesn’t make many appeaeances anymore. And you might be aware that “Cookies are a sometime snack”.

  27. #27 |  croaker | 

    @25 Along those lines, I watched Apollo 13 in the theater. At the point where they’re running the Walter Cronkite “And as we know, there is no rescue in space” some bonehead tweener in front of me asked “Why don’t they send up the space shuttle?”

    I should have gotten a medal for fighting down the urge to take that dumbass out of the gene pool.

  28. #28 |  Rune | 


    What are you talking about? What math? We are not talking math my friend, but language here.

    Can we agree that the post is about TEENAGERS?

    Can we agree that all comments posted before yours, if mentioning age, talks about TEENAGERS?

    Then I hope we can agree that introducing PRE-TEENS into the equation with the disparaging question: “who teaches their preteen [sic] children about war?” all, it seems to me, to be able to rattle off a little story about your kids.

    And then your answering comment makes even less sense. For someone to know of OBL they have to have read newspapers years ago? Excuse me very much, but I do believe that I have a working knowledge of events taking place before I was able to read through the storytelling tradition we call education (both formal and informal). So basically you make no sense to me, so please, either explain to me in words and a logic structure that is understandable, what you take offence to with my reply to you and why you believe I am wrong, or don’t answer at all. Cryptic nonsense doesn’t help me much-

  29. #29 |  johnl | 

    Rune, Bin Laden has been out of the news for more than 6 years. Pushed out by his retirement as well as by the Iraq war. Take 18, subtract 6, you get 12. This actually gets explained in Libby’s post, maybe you should try that.

  30. #30 |  Rune | 


    hmm, a simple google search sing the criteria 2009 bin laden returns 96.8 million hits. The top results, all articles, all from 2009. Sorta discounts the nonsense I asked you not to try and explain your position with.

    Libby’s post? By Ayn Rand’s ghost why do you pull that into this? It is by no means relevant to what brought on this discussion, ie. you bringing up pre-teens where none before had mentioned such.

    Let’s end this. You are obviously not going to give me the courtesy of addressing my arguments but seems satisfied with cherry-picking a straw man and attacking that. You are either deliberately trolling or do not have the skill set necessary to carrying out a debate.

  31. #31 |  johnl | 

    In the USA, Iraq has pushed UBL off the frontpage for a long time. For example, the deployment in Iraq was much heavier, so everyone knows someone who has been to Iraq. For someone who is 15, UBL will hold the same importance as Monica to someone who is 20, GHWB to someone 25, Vietnam to people my age … Stuff that happens when you are 13 is special and never forget, but stuff that happens when you are 10 is kind of a blind spot.

    You will understand when you are a little older Rune.

  32. #32 |  Rune | 

    @johnl what age would that be? 40s? 50s? 60?

  33. #33 |  Rune | 

    “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

    I’m born late ’76 and yes, I remember the fall of Berlin Wall (I was even there a couple of weeks later). But I also remember the mustard gas attacks by Iraq and Iranian child soldiers in the Iraq/Iran war. I could as a teenager have told you who Khomeni was, a man the media stopped talking about when I was eleven.

    But that is still inconsequential. Your answer still does not explain why you would bring the question as to “who teaches their pre-teens about war?” into the debate and you will probably never give me a straight answer.