Sunday, May 5, 2013
Guest post by Emma Tobin
Being young today isn’t easy, because it means being massively stereotyped, it means being prejudiced against. We’re viewed with scorn because of what we do, because we spend time on Facebook and Twitter and because we don’t give our elders respect they haven’t earned. We’re seen as a bunch of atheists who live in a world where evil is glorified, where violence reigns supreme. We can’t shop in large groups, because we’re seen as a threat.
That’s the brush we’re tarred with, and that’s what’s expected of us. We have opinions, we’re smarter than people give us credit for, yet still it’s presumed that we are slaves to fashion and the constant victims of peer pressure. We’re viewed as invertebrates - bowing under social pressure, unable to stand on our own two feet, more likely than not to drink and take drugs.
That’s not who we are. We are the people who will have to search for peace, because we know that war is no longer the answer to every little problem, we know that bombing each other is not the only way to settle an argument. We’ve grown up in a world plagued with nuclear threat on all sides. Everyone is packing now, because for a long time that’s been the only way to be safe; the promise of mutual annihilation. We’re the people who will have to find a cure for cancer, who will continue to save and preserve human life.
We are not the people who will waste away in virtual worlds; we are the people who will take virtual reality further than anyone has gone before. We will make the future masterpieces in film, we will write the classics of the future; we will be the pop stars, the rock stars, the singer/songwriters of the future. We are not the dirt under your shoe, we are the ground that will hold you up when you grow old, we are the people who will actually give you your pensions. We will be the honest bankers; we will speak the words that will change the world.
We are the young, and the stupid, but we are not delinquents, and we do not deserve your condescension, your mistrust. We will learn from your mistakes and build a better world for ourselves. Right now, we’re the people you think you can look down on, but in a few years we’ll be you, and you have a choice to teach us to appreciate the young people who will take our place, or to be just like you. You are the people with the choice to make. You have the power to empower us, and to empower future generations.
Being young has never been easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible and it doesn’t have to be so hard that we do everything in our power to escape it. You can give us the power to be noticed, to be heard, make us responsible people who don’t need to turn to alcohol to feel grown-up, who don’t need to turn to drugs to escape the world you’ve made for us. You were young once. I mean, you’re the people that The Breakfast Club is based on, so you know how we feel. We’re not criminals, we’re the start of a new age, and you have to accept that even though we seem alien, we’re going through the same things that you did.
We strike out against the world because it seems to close in on us, drowning us in rules and quashing our every attempt to express who we are, who we’re turning into. We don’t walk around shops wondering what to steal; we wonder what will look good on us. We don’t look at you and see victims; we look at you and see people who were just like us once, just as scared and confused, turning to music to make us feel alive because we don’t quite know how to live yet.
We’ve had it proven to us one hundred times over that children can’t rule the world, and we’re not asking you to hand over the reins to us. We just want the right to grow up in a world that appreciates us, that really listens to us and that isn’t so afraid of us that we have to be ruled with an iron fist. This is your world right now, but one day it will be ours, and you need to consider just what you want the future rulers of the world to be like.
Do you want them to be criminals, or do you want them to be smart, confident people who aren’t afraid of becoming like you?
Emma Tobin is my daughter and she is 16.