“I will write in words of fire.
I will write them on your skin.
Write beginnings, write of sin.
You’re the book I love the best,
your skin only holds my truth.” – Neil Gaiman
I love what young people <tweens & teens> are doing these days with using their bodies to make a statement.
To be clear <part 1>.
This is not about tattoos <although I have something to share at a later date on that from a sociological standpoint>.
This is not even about temporary tattoos.
This is about temporary messages being artistically delivered on their skin. Everywhere and anywhere on their bodies … from hands to feet to back and front.
It isn’t a fake tattoo.
And it is frickin’ awesome.
To be clear <part 2>.
I do not believe this idea is anti-tattoo or young actually listening to older people suggesting that committing to something like a tattoo is for life.
I actually believe what they are doing is attitudinal … a reflection of a generational attitude.
And this attitude even has a name. Trendwatching <a trend futurist group> calls this type of attitude ‘transumerism.’
At the foundation of this generational attitude is a fact that in today’s world we are putting a higher and higher value on the temporary and the transient.
Uh oh. A lot of older people find this extremely uncomfortable.
They wonder why no one can be consistent any longer. Or make a long term commitment. Or relax on one idea or opinion or thought anymore.
Instead the young are embracing many opinions and thoughts. They appear to have learned to embrace a thought of the day. To feel free and express what they think now … express an opinion in the here & now.
We are being topical.
We dare to make a statement in the moment … when we believe it is most impactful.
Impact is in the moment and not the grind <although they are not opposed to the grind but that is another article>.
In fact what they are doing is showing us a fairly big attitudinal shift … culturally. Experiences are starting to out-value ‘things.’ The intangible and the temporary are building a higher value than many fixed unchanging tangible items.
Fixed items are losing value by becoming synonymous with boredom, with hassle, with quickly-out-of-date, with maintenance, with taking up too large a part of budgets. Heck. Even taking too much of our lives.
This is an entire generation of ‘transumers.’ They embody an experiential based economy and culture.
This transumer generation is driven by experiences instead of the ‘fixed’, by sensory entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom.
This means as adults they will increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles, and attitudes, of permanence <ownership and possessions>.
In the inexperience <I hesitate to say immaturity> of youth it can become an obsession.
By that I mean the fixed is replaced by an obsession with the here and now, an ever-shorter satisfaction span, and a lust to collect as many experiences and stories as possible.
It is an attitude of … “hey, the past is … well … over … and the future is uncertain … so all that remains is the present. So what the hell … I am going live and make a stand in the ‘now’.
This means that attitudinally the young are finding more and more status not from ownership of products & things but from an ability to change and make statements … which change and evolve and adapt.
There are winds of change shifting traditional status cues while still doing so in the unchanging important of appearance <or how one looks> in the young. From a larger perspective we need to take note that this means they are gaining more status not from traditional labels <geeks, jocks, preppies, etc.> but status based on attitudes and beliefs.
The young are demanding expression <and demanding status from self expression>.
They are figuring out how to make their own mark in the world … not staying still, nor silent about what they feel or believe.
As one professional body writer suggests:
“… I think that when we write a message in a part of our body, we touch the hope that this message is stronger than a simple piece of paper or other material
When we use our bodies courier, we speak from the heart ..” .
<note: There is even a website for how to do a ‘sharpie tattoo’: http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Sharpie-Tattoo >
Digging deeper in transumerism.
This thing they are doing is representative of ‘temporary freedom’ or ‘fractional ownership’ of an idea or thought.
Trying out new things, escaping unescapable commitment and obligations, dropping formality and offering endless new experiences. No wonder that this idea is catching on with the young.
They are curious.
I love how these kids are figuring out how to make an impression and remain silent. It reminded me of a quote I saw attributed to the Dalai Lama:
“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.” – Dalai Lama
I am certainly not suggesting today’s high school youth embody the Dalai Lama. But they are figuring out ways to express themselves in powerful ways.
I love this trend of type of body writing.
I love how our young are learning how to not only express themselves but show how to express thinking … real thinking.
I love the attitude <and behavior>.
And I think we old folk should start learning how to accept an entire generation of ‘transumers’ built upon an attitude of ‘loving the transient an temporary.’ I say this because our tendency will be to slow them down and suggest that they are missing something. We may focus on what I referred to as ‘fractional ownership of an idea’ as a bad thing. Instead we should be encouraging them and teaching them how to maximize that which they are and invest in making fractions wholes <like bricks in a foundation>.
Now that is an attitude that will need some strength on the part of us old folk in order to change.
And change is hard.
Because they are seemingly embracing some ongoing aspects of change <but still holding on to a very strong moral compass at their core>.
But … most importantly … they are not just embracing change … they are addressing cultural attitudes and societal ‘misbehavior’ by taking a stand. They speak out on things that they believe need saying.
Silent … but powerful communication.
In the end?
“You’re the book I love the best, your skin only holds my truth.”
The skin of our youth may be holding truth up before our eyes.
We just make damn well sure we see it.