Saturday, July 23, 2005

I'm on the biggest feel upbeat binge at the moment.

The one woman on this planet I respect more than any other was really cool when I ran an idea past her via email. It's not a big thing but to me it's pretty important.

Why are there so many suicidal teenagers out there? I really believe it's all down to piss-poor schooling strategies. You don't drum info into people and get them to parrot it back, it's absurd. And what's more, the info being pumped in is useless to them, pointless to them, meaningless to them and it's shoved into them under duress. Do this or else.

Piss off.

What I want to learn, I'll learn for myself. It'll be faster, easier and a billion times more effective.

Anyway, the point is how to reach out to these kids and turn on a light somewhere? Not make wholesale changes, not throw money at anything, not make false promises or bullshit programs, no counselling - I hate counselling with dire passion anyway - but talk. Scanning blogs, the biggest complaint is "Nobody understands me."

What in God's name is up with that??? I was a teenager once, I know what the issues are, what's on their minds because I remember none too fondly what I went through when I was a teenager. It's not a fun time, it's fucking horrible.

You're expected to be the best at everything you do - or at least up there, you're expected to go chasing after sex as soon as the first person in your age group gets urges at 13 or so, you're supposed to get stuck into alcohol - even though it all tastes like total shit until you get used to it and then you have to like the right KIND of booze. I hate beer and always have. Anything else is supposed to be a chick's drink. Piss off. I like having a once a year binge, maybe twice depending on circumstances, and I love a quiet Cointreau on ice every now and then. That doesn't make me an alcy but it also means I don't 'fit in'. Tough.

I have to like the right kind of music. Pig's arse to that, I like 80s and a certain kind of music and nothing anyone says is going to change the sort of music I like. I'm not supposed to like ANY boyband music. Well the Beatles were the first boyband but that little fact gets ignored. I don't like much boyband music, but when a song comes along that I like, I don't care what anyone says, I'm going to listen to it whether it's Aerosmith, Van Halen or Savage Garden. Tough shit if anyone objects.

And these are the sorts of pressures our teenagers face day after day after day. On top of the requirement to wear cool clothes. I knew a kid who never wore anything the other kids were wearing and Nick was one helluva switched on cool kid. Nothing phased him, he was a smart, polite, neat, clean and brilliant kid. He had his own style and everyone around him just accepted that he was the same but liked the same stuff they all liked but in his own way. That's how he was the first time I met him and that's how he was the last time I ever saw him.

How tough is it to fight down that sort of peer pressure? It's damn tough. If you don't fit in, you get bashed and mocked - not teased, I mean humiliated. That's what our teenagers are facing day after day. They're arming themselves against other teenagers because one crew skates and the others don't, or wears the wrong brand of shoes... You name it, this is what our teenagers face day after day after day. Would any of you adults care to function in a warzone without complaining, without training for it, without any help from anyone you thought you could trust?

I didn't think so.

And you know what? It's all down to the way kids are schooled. School is set up to be competitive. They're hell bent on putting a quantifiable, identifiable and permanent label on how much a kid knows and they do it over and over again to reinforce a kid's place in the hierarchy. How much did you get for your English test? I got 85%, I got 63%. "You're an idiot!"

No, I'm not a laboratory rat that goes down the tunnel and gets the cheese to prove a point. I do things my way and the teachers don't like it, they are confounded by it and so I don't get the magical cheese.

If it weren't for the fact the rest of society looks for those champion cheese getters because that's the only proof they have a person is worth hiring, this world would be shaped by those who don't follow the prescription. I don't need to rattle off examples here, you can do your own research into the histories of some of the 20th century's most influential and amazing individuals to see who the lab rats were and who were the mavericks and the avant gardists.

Teenagers know what they want. What they don't know is how to get it. My point is that if decent people ESPECIALLY their parents don't help them to achieve what they want to achieve, the possibilities are not good. The teenager could place their trust in the least possible trustworthy person who bobs up and says "I'll get it for you", they could tear away altogether and damage that all important foundational relationship with the family or they could land in blogland telling the entire planet they cut themselves to ribbons because it bleeds a lot and feels nice and they want to die anyway.

Enough is fucking enough!

Teenagers are so vital to everything. It's well time those people who call themselves responsible adults looked around to see what sort of a difference they can make in maybe just one teenager's life. One each! What's so bloody hard about that? Relive your own teenage years listening to what todays teenagers have to say, listen to what they're feeling, their thoughts on politics, relationships, the environment, war, healthcare, education, technology and everything else. These kids are the ones who are going to be in charge of the planet when we're old and past it. They're going to be making the music, the movies, the ads in the papers... they're going to be designing the clothes we'll be wearing and the buildings we'll be living in, the cars we'll be driving and they'll be producing the food we're going to eat.

And you want to ignore these kids??? Are you fucking INSANE? It's our future we're shitting all over if we ignore teenagers now people. If you abuse teenagers now, then you've got your head up your arse and the consequences for you later should be as catastrophic as the foundation you build when you do. In case you hadn't noticed, every last one of them is so very vital, so impossibly important. They're so wise when you give them the space to express themselves you have no idea. And if you do and you still do nothing when you know you could, then for shame on you. If you think teenagers are like runaway trains, then get the train back on track - DUH. They won't bite you, they just swear a lot. So what, so do I. Click around.

And one more thing, don't be condescending if you ever get the chance to talk to a teenager. They are more than likely superior to you in every way except in years. They are worthy of your respect, treat teenagers as you would a friend. Listen to them as you would a friend. It's not a big ask is it?

Or is it?

(Time to compose this entry: 50 mins)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. Keep queezing our your own cheese, man! S.