This is about teens and what they are thinking and how the respond to reading <or claims they are not reading> and, frankly, a view from their perspective.
And I am going to use their words. I am gonna use a lot of their words.
I am going to do this one in parts.
First. A website dedicated to giving voice to teens globally.
Second. Some response comments pulled from an article written … well … I cannot remember. Suffice it to say the article was from a reputable publication and the article was a bunch of moronic drivel written by an old guy waxing on about how this generation of young people are missing out on what his generation did (mostly reading) and are turning out to be a generation of illiterate mindless dweebs (sorry … it probably wasn’t that bad but you get the point).
I get tired of this (bashing today’s youth).
So … the first.
The voice of the global teen. A blog created and written by teens. As a good friend of mine said “it is humbling.” Beyond that it is smart, insightful and extremely well articulated. And if anyone tries to tell me that this is a minority from a generation made up of a majority of morons I respond with a simple “bullshit.”
All generations think thoughts. But all generations have individuals who give voice to those thoughts. In fact all generations need an articulate few to create the voice of a generation like voices of youth.
If you have any doubts that this generation doesn’t “get it” you can read the words of the younger generation globally right here … in one spot.
Do not doubt for one minute they are not extremely qualified to step into our shoes if not throw away our shoes and do us even better.
Whew. This is one never ending gripe from old folk.
So I will begin with reading and literacy and … well … books, e-books and whatever else you want to consider reading.
Here is how one teen responds:
A major source of confusion is the fact that information from reputable sources is increasingly available on the Internet, which is far more convenient to use than hauling your ass to a library, browsing through the book collection, finding a giant tome, browsing through it to find what you need, and then rinse and repeat.
We’re keeping up with the modern world. And we’re definitely reading. We’re just not reading on physical paper, which is apparently a crime against humanity or something.
Hell, we’re reading plenty of things on physical paper too. Just not what we “should” be reading according to these “Damned-Whippersnappers”-crying adults. We’re reading not only fiction and fantasy (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc.), but also memoirs (The Glass Castle and Night) and many other genres.
We’re reading, just not what and how you think we should
I have read Hunger Games (a youth book … and I am looking forward to the movies) … the Immortal Nicholas Flamel book series (an excellent smart series) as well as I rarely read a newspaper anymore … oops … rather I read newspaper online. And, in fact, I probably read a wider variety of opinions and articles because I gather information online versus one paper newspaper than ever before.
So maybe I am also ‘just not reading what and how you think I should.’ Uh oh. I guess that means I owe an apology to the 50000 some people who visit my site each month.
Guywithcontacts is right. We adults need to stop crying. Reading (and writing maybe even more so) is alive and well. And prospering.
And the world is not losing its moral foundation nor is it crumbling …
Is Western Civilization coming to an end again? So soon after the last time? Actually, this article made me nostalgic for all of the other times Western Civilization was on its last legs.
The symptoms are always the same – teenagers are distracted, can’t pay attention, and don’t have patience or empathy. The cure is always the same – read more, especially books from the canon. But the cause is different each time.
Remember when it was Facebook and Twitter that was going to bring us to an end? And before that, it was the internet? And before that, it was MTV? Before then, I think the culprit was supposed to be blockbuster movies (for killing our imaginations and preventing us from reading). Before that, it was television. And before that it was comic books. Then radio, movies, jazz, and vaudeville. And dime novels.
And let’s not forget the assembly line and the automobile. All of them were, at one time or another, the cause of the demise of our culture.
I also recall, when I was a teenager, being told that I was the reason Western Civilization was doomed. Because all teenagers would lack the wisdom and common sense necessary to function. I heard the story about the high school student who hadn’t been aware that the U.S. and Japan had once been at war. “Who won?” she asked. I heard the story about the teenagers who saw a movie poster for “Amadeus” and wondered to each other who wrote the soundtrack. They sounded like jokes to me, but were presented as Actual Facts by adults. All it taught me at the time was that: (a) adults could be awfully credulous at times; and (b) backhanded put-downs weren’t much of an inducement to read more. But articles like this one are never aimed at the teenagers who are putting Western Civilization in peril. They are aimed at people who want to rail at the annoying, careless behavior of those who are just beginning to acquire the means to act independently, when carelessness or obnoxiousness could actually do someone harm. I propose that Newsweek retitle this article, “Kids today!” and leave it at that.
That being said, I have found texting to be both useful and terribly, terribly annoying. It depends on the context.
Maura teen commenter
Get on the train or get run over by the train.
This generation is going to be managing our future one day.
If our generation didn’t kill civilization no generation will be able to. We have certainly done our best to do so … therefore … maybe this generation will pull our proverbial asses out of the fire and make all good as it should be.
But, as Maura so rightfully points out, ‘backhanded put downs are not an inducement’ for anyone to want to do anything.
This generation is not going to destroy civilization … they are going to rebuild, recreate and renovate civilization. That said … we adults better quit bitching about reading and make sure we let them learn the good stuff any way they want.
Any way they want …..
“I’m so incredibly tired of everyone railing my generation for using the technology available to us. Yeah, cell phones allow us to communicate with each other easier. Awesome. That’s why they were invented. And the reason we use them a lot isn’t because the act of typing a message on a tiny keyboard gives us some immeasurable thrill. It’s because there’s someone on the other end whom we care about and want to be in contact with. Text-speak just makes things go faster. Is there anyone who honestly thinks that there are teenagers out there who don’t know how to spell ‘you’?
It’s like Maura said– you don’t think your parents said the same things about you? And their parents about them and on and on until you get back to neanderthals and the invention of the wheel.
It’s just scapegoating and fear of change. It’s old news, buddy.
Also, I don’t hear people complaining about how Facebook and Twitter led an entire region to overthrow tyranny and oust dictators. Someone who did a great job of finding the real heart of the problem– and not maligning technology and advancement–was Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451.
So please, stop accusing teenagers of destroying the world before we’re even allowed to vote, and quit blaming my generation for things we haven’t even gotten the chance to do yet (such as, you know, spike the US deficit to over a trillion).
chrissy a commenter on a site
In the end … maybe let’s try some of these words on for size and today’s youth …
Optimistic. Instead of cynicism … which seems to appear in older generations … this youth remains optimistic.
Think about this … a Pew survey found most young adults today believe they have a harder time than their parents did:
– 82% say it’s harder to find a job.
– 75% say it’s harder to save for the future.
– 71% say it’s harder to pay for college.
– 69% say it’s harder to buy a home.
<note: I tend to believe ALL younger generations believe they will have a more difficult time then their parents.> Yet. Despite all of that … the same Pew study found high levels of optimism among young adults. Although the survey found young people are less likely now than before the recession to say they have enough income, their level of optimism hasn’t shrunk from where it was in 2004, the report notes.
“Their optimism is just as high as it was in a booming economy or a stronger economy” before the recession.
There you go.
I bring up optimism to close this post because, dammit, it’s not up to older generations to kill this optimism … or bitch about how “they don’t do it the way we do/did” … rather … it is up to us to fuel this optimism and let this generation find its true voice … and foster the generation to create whatever innovations it is destined to create .. and reach whatever new horizons they are destined to reach … all of which “civilization” will benefit from.
We will benefit to (just wanted to remind everyone about that).