April 23, 2014

Lachlan McDowell

I have watched far too much of the news lately, and what do I hear when anything is mentioned of today’s young people? I hear fear-Mongering rubbish designed to scare the average middle age parent. I hear energy drinks are as dangerous as cocaine; that anyone with a social media account is doomed to suicide and that this generation spends most of its time partying and having promiscuous, near-constant sex.

Anyone who is part of this age group knows that, for the most part, this is not the case.  We aren’t all what the old-guard media – ageing television networks and newspapers – make us out to be, which is effectively el diablo. It’s pretty obvious to me why it occurs: these old fashioned media outlets cater to an older demographic. When they hear about the horrifying exploits of youth, it piques their interest. This has an impact on society: this fear mongering effects the elderly, the paranoid, the impressionable, and those cast as the villains – us.

The first and most obvious effect is on more impressionable member of the upper age bracket. I think we’ve all heard from a grandparent or elderly family member to beware of peer pressure. It also leads to the occasional parent being hyper- paranoid about some relatively mundane thing like using the internet because they heard from some right-wing pundit that it will make your child a sociopathic failure at life.

The second, more disturbing, effect is on us. When you are told by the mass media on a near-daily basis that you are the doom of society, won’t that change how yow you view yourself a little bit? When the elderly cashier throws you sidelong glances because you were a hoodie wouldn’t that affect you a little bit? It’s not unreasonable to think that someone living with subtle but pervasive produce for years might eventually meet the low expectations society has of them. Don’t get me wrong. This idea that teenagers are loud, vain, lazy thug has some basis. Adolescence is a time to experiment with your identity, and that often leads to a lot of mistakes. But the idea that we are all incompetent lemmings is just wrong. It’s a technique used by lazy reporters to stir up fear, and it leads to a combination of irritating sidelong glances, the occasional bout of parental paranoia or, worse yet, teenagers trying to live up to their undeservedly negative reputation.

– Lachlan McDowell

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