Picture this scene: You tidy up, run the vacuum around, dust, straighten out the rug and generally make the living room look the way it should – normal. The next time you stroll in to watch TV you find plates on the side tables, mugs stuffed with crisp packets on the floor, sweetie wrappers lodged between the sofa cushions and bits of unidentifiable crap over the floor.
The TV is on, again, and most likely a laptop perched on the arm of the sofa – abandoned. You wonder how it got so messy so fast but when you hear a noise from the sofa and a moody face peers out at you from under their rag, like a tramp on a park bench. Ahh, you think, a teenager has been in here, that explains everything!
If you prefer to watch movies from the comedy or family entertainment genre but always fancied something with more edge, perhaps horror or a thriller to get your mind racing, maybe you fancy a good drama with lots of emotion…well, if you have teenagers around you don’t need to bother! They’ll show you things worse than any horror movie, thrill you with their actions (good and bad) and provide you with all the drama you’ll ever need – we’re talking a life times worth!
Since my post Teenagers are fun to watch! back in March 2010 I’ve now arrived at a slightly different view; watching teenagers is like staring open-mouthed at a wildlife documentary where a scavenging animal munches on one of its dead pals. You can’t believe the hungry buzzard/coyote/rat/dinosaur/mouse etc is actually dining on one its own kind but at the same time you stare with increasing alarm, bewilderness, curiosity and worry. You try to turn your head but your eyes remain fixed on the fascinating images.
I used to be a teenager, so I do have some empathy for any teenagers mood swings, worries, fears, doubts, self-image & social awkwardness. However, I can look back at my teenage years and see where I differed from todays breed of teen idiot. At times I was a nightmare, always pushing the boundaries, staying out late and resisting authority, but on the other hand I didn’t have todays bizarre vast range of influences pushing me in all directions.
But teenagers back in your time had a different set of influences, I might hear you say. This is true but I genuinely believe that my friends and I were never as weird and inept as they are today. The age of the “hoody” arrived in the 90’s and has yet to leave. The idea that people over a certain age are afraid or fearful when they pass by a group of teenagers is seriously worrying. When did the system of “respect your elders” die away? And why has it died at all? I think I know why.
Younger generations are being raised in a society where it is increasingly easy to sue someone for pretty much anything, something we have America to thank for. It’s alarming to see so many TV adverts like “The National Accident Helpline” or “Sue Someone for No Good Reason. Company.” That is a topic for another day but it does support the attitude surrounding teenagers that grown-ups don’t have any power or at least have less authority compared to pre 1980’s, or thereabouts. If you wonder why I chose that decade it’s because that was where I spent my childhood. A time when if an adult caught you hanging around a street corner and asked what you were up to, you bloody well answered or they would tell your parents! I’m simply comparing my childhood decade to the present, and you’ll no doubt find similar aspects in your own childhood/teenagers years that mirror my own.
Parent’s aren’t allowed to slap the back of their kids legs if they behave badly, thank’s to a range of insane rules from places like the Health & Safety Authority, Childline, and our increasing Nanny State regulations. A quick tap on the back of their head or back of the legs isn’t going to hurt a kid. Why is the state so concerned this may lead the child to violence later in life, or damage them in some way? Human beings have been around for a very long time with much worse behaviour than a simple smack!! But we live in a world where anyone physically acting in anger is considered a crazy person. Without a show of authority from their elders, kids are apt to learn that no one can prevent them from doing anything. When you think about it, violence has resolved more issues than any other form of debate. If you want to criticise something that is bad for kids, try taking a look at religion, and again that is a discussion for another time.
Every day there are reports in the news about gun and knife crime, how some prepubescent boy raped a girl or murdered one of their peers or stole something. And what happens? Very little or at least the punishment rarely seems to fit the crime. Teenagers have learned there are fewer harsh consequences for their actions. Try doing a search in Google for the terms: knife crime – teenage gangs – hoody – gun crime – teenage violence. I’m sure you’ll grow weary of scanning the never-ending reports.
You ask a teenage caveman/woman to clean their den because it resembles a hippy drug den and what do they say? No or Why? After all it’s their bedroom, you never go in there other than to tut at the mess, so what difference does it make to you if it looks like a junk yard? I know plenty of teenagers who have the same attitude, that it’s just a part of growing up, blah blah freakin’ blah. However, in our disposable society it is possible for a teenager to cram their bedroom with so much more junk than at any time in history. I’m not saying all adults are anal about being clean and tidy but we know that if we drop sweetie wrappers and drink bottles beside our bed no one else is going to clean them up for us. And adults tend to not want to have to pick their way through piles of smelly underwear, magazines, bits of paper, cables, laptops, sticky tissues, shoe boxes and all manner of disgusting crap. I won’t even go into detail about the special wank sock. (Shudder.) And what the hell is with the drinks glasses and plates? Don’t teenagers know that eventually their household will run out of these items if they don’t return them?
Why is this? Because whilst kids appear to be physically growing up quicker they appear to be mentally unable to cope with adulthood until much later in their life compared to what it seemed in the past. When I was a young teen scallywag my friends and I were out all the time, and I mean OUTSIDE, playing football, tennis, makings dens, cycling, delivering newspapers, washing the car, cutting the grass, travelling to the town, having adventures. What is the image of the teenager today? Lazy? argumentative? Insular? Infantile? Emotionally unstable? I blame every modern comfort for this, from Playstation, 24hour TV, social networking, mobile phones, nanny state idiocy and ourselves above all else.
ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE, that of sexting, take a good look at the picture below. This is a subject I particular dislike. What does this say about our society? Where a girl (it seems predominately girls, or at last girls are singled out for this) feels she has to take images of herself in order to comply with the rules laid down by teenage culture? Morals have taken a huge dive in this respect. No one should ever think that to gain acceptance they should send anyone else intimate photos of themselves. And for those who berate others for not doing it, or harass & bully them to do it, should be punished, and I mean severely.
Moving on, kids grow up knowing a teacher can’t clip them around the ear for disrupting a class. Teachers have no authority beyond their own voices, so pupils push the boundaries as far as they can, from back talk and insults to violence. Peer pressure is considerably worse than that of my own youth. It is now possible for a teenager to be bombarded with all manner of information from TV, the internet, text messaging…and so on. It is a 24/7 onslaught on how you are supposed to live your life: don’t question why just buy these clothes, drink this alcohol, party with your friends, take naked pictures of yourself and send them to your pals, check Facebook every five seconds and perform like a puppet for international companies who don’t give a shit about you so long as they profit from your behaviour.
It’s most likely just a phase, right? These people will be running the country one day! I’m sure I’m not the only person to have concerns about the future of society, and it will probably all be fine in the end. Kids grow into teenagers and they mature into responsible adults, the world stays the same. I hope that’s how it works out. Has anyone ever asked you the question: “If you could go back to any part of your life and do it all again, what age would you go back to?” I used to think 19 was the best age, you were just about free from the bounds of the household rules, able to live on your own and make your own rules, there were so many new and exciting things to do and you still had that confident cock-sure “I can anything and go anywhere” outlook on life…an amazing outlook to have if I’m honest.
But now I’d have to say I’m happy with my current age. I miss that age of discovery but with maturity comes patience, understanding, empathy and to a certain degree, tolerance. I have aims and desires like anyone else but I accept the things I cannot change and see the world for its beauty as well its horror. I couldn’t return to an age where my pals were socially inept, awkward, horny, abusive, loud mouthed idiots the majority of society considered failures of one sort or another.
You may well be forgiven that I sound bitter, as if I wish I were still a teenager with a big list of exciting things to do. Nope. I still have a list of exciting things to do, that will never change. You may also think that I have a morbid dislike of teenagers. Wrong again. I find them an endless source of fascination and even though they grate my nerves on occasion they certainly provide endless hours of entertainment, good and bad! For all their weird faults, excuses, lies, laziness, cave-man bedrooms, monosyllabic answers and that ability to argue over the smallest of details…teenagers continue to make me smile.
The world would be a dull place without them.
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