According to stories popping up across the Webz, kids today are meaner, swear-ier, and (in our personal experience) punch-a-poster-on-the-subway-while-singing-loudly-in-Spanish-to-get-attention-ier. One mother talks about a to-do list
she found her 8-year-old daughter making, which included the tasks "2. Make Nayla miserable, 3. Be mean to Nayla, 4. Pick on Nayla, 5. Terrorize Nayla a bit." On the one hand, kudos for using terrorize correctly despite being only 8. On the other hand, yeesh, we feel bad for Nayla.
A few theories exist for the ever-earlier emergence of the "mean girls" phenomenon, among them early-onset puberty; anonymous Internet cruelty (think about that
, commenters); the "witticisms" of TV characters like Hannah Montana, whose idea of a good joke is to disrespect her elders and then make some kind of vaguely sexual remark.