the words of teens

I began this post (quasi rant) because of one of those studies which make you wonder how (or why) anyone would fund it and then it evolves to a discussion about today’s youth.

This is also part a nod of acknowledgment to how teens are moving forward quite well and creating their own thumbprint on their generation and innovation.

This is also an acknowledgment of how incredibly shortsighted older people can be (with regard to change and youth).

So.  This stupid study.

Two University of Toronto researchers who’ve been studying teen text messaging say that not only is the medium not wrecking the English language, but may actually be creating a “linguistic renaissance” as teens re-learn words like “shall” and “must.” After reading months of teen text conversations, the lead linguist reported that she “was able to gain access to a world that most middle-aged academics never get to.” All of that is partly interesting, partly a little creepy and mostly incredibly stupid.

Stupid? Yeah.

Well. Each generation puts their indelible stamp on the everyday language. I wouldn’t call it a renaissance but rather simple evolution. If we believe for one moment that someone in Shakespearean time wouldn’t look at us today, after listening to two 50somethings talk, like we were crazy (and uncouth … if they could understand them at all) we just haven’t thought about it well enough.

Teens aren’t destroying anything.

In fact they are creating.

They are creating the new way of doing things and saying things. They are creating new ways to articulate ideas and emotions.

Does it make us old folk uncomfortable? Sure. To us there was nothing wrong the way it was.  But to believe it will destroy things in a bad way is just darn silly.  In fact almost on the verge of stupidity.

Change driven by youth is inevitable.  And inherent in the change is good. Different … but good.  Because generations tend to improve upon that which is (rather than not improve). And at the root of the changing? A search for individuality. THAT has never changed. Teens are expressing their individuality in their own words and their own ways.

Does it drive older people crazy? You bet (see any parent who had a kid in the 60’s or 70’s … or the 20’s or 30’s for that matter).  In the end it is that search for an individual voice that creates the generational change. Their imprints create positive change and self expression and in a bigger sense a generational impression. One teen said it best online:

My biggest fear
is that I’ll be just like
everyone else.

THAT, my friends, is the small voice of every generation. It was my generation’s voice.  It was the one before and the one before that (etc.). Texting, emails, phones whatever are simply ways the generation expresses itself.  It is not bad.  It doesn’t diminish any skills or some invaluable “thing” that is valuable to us old folk. It increases some “thing” that will shape the next generation. It isn’t a renaissance for gods sake.  It is simple evolution of generations.

With that said.

Some words from today’s teens, which could have been the voices heard from any prior generation, and show everyone … well … how this whole generation thing works. Note.  These are all tween/teens words:

I might have my insecurities and flaws, but I also have plans. I know I am going somewhere in life, whether I have to do it alone or not. Here is the thing about me, I can shift priorities and balance things how I like, I am dependent on no-one. Other parts of the song resonate with me, such as the line “nothing comes for free.” This is a reflection of necessary sacrifices needed to get somewhere in life, something I fully acknowledge. I also relate to being a control freak, I have a need to be in control of my life. It helps me manage my life though, as I am careful not to lose touch with my goals.

It is times like those where we need to step back from ourselves and focus on the big picture, the reasons why we must do the little things. It is so easy to lose yourself in the quest for something, so easy to get caught up in other things. Sometimes, I forget why I fight so hard to shine. In these moments of self doubt, I force myself to remember who I am and where I want to be. I am suffering here, I need to get out. In working hard to maintain my grades, I am working towards scholarships and acceptance into university right after graduation. This will enable me to be closer to the city. Thus, getting A’s will get me out of here. Who am I? I am me. I have potential and I do not want to waste it in this deadbeat town. I am getting out of here. This I swear.


Dear Skepticism,

Oh, why must you infect my brain with your contagious thoughts? You are not content to let me simply accept, you find any way to twist my beliefs into doubts. When I am truly happy, you shatter the illusion and show me exactly why my life is nothing to be pleased about. Mirroring me, images of success and loneliness, you know how to get under my skin. Skepticism, you know my inner self more so than any other, thus you know which strings to pull. I am your marionette, controlled by your twisted intentions. Push and pull the words in my mind, formulate sharp sentences designed to drawn blood from my fragile humanity. The way I hurt others, is multiplied in the way I myself am torn apart.

In this distance, in this loneliness, skepticism welcomes itself to my chemically dyed head, taking it’s place amongst longing and deep hurt. Underneath the surface intelligence, beneath the mathematical formulas and psychology terms, is my fragility. This I admit, not much effects me, except my own carefully targeted words. Why would I allow myself to feel pain at the words of others, when my own mind is so much capable? My inner demons are muted when I am amongst others, when I am laughing with my best friend or in the arms of my boyfriend, but in silence they scream demented tones. “Why would anyone love you?” They taunt me, pulling at my weaknesses. “You really think you have anything going for you besides your intelligence?” They laugh at my naivety. “If you were worth something, to anyone, would your phone really be so silent?” They say the things I do not want to hear. They speak the truths I try to forget.

Skepticism, please take a leave and allow me some peace of mind. A good night’s sleep would be beneficial, I am sick of this restlessness. The distance itself is enough, I do not need your constant reminders of what it might mean. I know you find pleasure in twisting at the corners of my mind, but please fuck off. I do not need the constant doubts you provide me with. This weekend has given you sufficient time to point out exactly how I feel, I get it. Skepticism, I know you only want to protect me, but it’s much too late for that. I am old enough to make my own mistakes and hold my own beliefs so please, fuck off.  I am done with you telling me who does not care about me. You are not a good friend, understand that I want nothing to do with you. You only bring me down.


Now.  There are some words to ponder.

And, if we are really really honest with ourselves (we adult folk) these are words that we said ourselves at some point in our tween/teens.

For all the labels and negativity we pile upon our youthful generation they are strong, they are aware and they feel empowered as never before to go do what they believe they need to do.


I say all this not to suggest we as adults don’t need to watch over this generation and make sure that the really really stupid mistakes (of those who just don’t really know any better) are avoided.  This is written to suggest that this generation is creating their own change and to try and constantly burden it with “all these new things are stealing what is important to them” is just darn silly. Yes. Silly. New things beget new things and new behavior. Scary to us adults? Yup.  And when we get scared we attempt to stop it.

Generational change cannot be stopped.

So complaining about it and wringing our hands and investing gobs of energy to try and keep ‘the way we did it’ in place is …. Well .. wasted energy.

Truly wasted energy.

And counterproductive to the end result desired.

A strong independent thoughtful individual empowered to be successful as a person – alone or part of a team.

Let them tweet.  Let them text. Let them use their verbal shortcuts. Let them grow.  Because some day they are gonna be taking care of us.

Written by Bruce