The Outlook

This isn't for the sensitive

Teenagers are getting ridiculous

According to this article, a group of teenagers ranging in age from 14-17 beat up and killed a homeless man. They stole this guy’s headphones and music player and then basically beat the living crap out of him. For what? ‘Cause they could? The article offers no explanation and police seem as confused as I am, but this is a serious question.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a teenager. Though in America you become an adult at 18, some places and people still consider 19-year-olds to be teeenagers (read an article about a 19 -year-old and notice that they will refer to said person as a “teenager” ) Anyway… like I said, it wasn’t that long ago, but I feel such a disconnect between myself and teenagers. Well, maybe not disconnect — but I look at them sometimes and think WTH?!

Take for example my morning commute earlier this week. At 7:45am, there’s little I can think to do other than be sleep or be mad that I’m awake. But, on the train along with me this particular morning were 3 teenaged girls who apparently thought different. It wasn’t so much that they were loud and obnoxious, because in this day and age of iPods and music phones, it’s easy to drown out what’s going on around you. Rather, they were rude and very inconsiderate. Every other word from their lips was a curse word. I’m not stupid, I know kids cuss — heck I was doing it trying to be cool when I was in 6th grade — but I never, and even as an adult wont, do it loudly and in public. My BFF gets excited/up in arms and will let an f-bomb drop loudly in public and it embarrasses me because I feel like it’s so inappropriate. There are people around who may not want to be privy to all of that language, save that for personal time.

But aside from the general respect issue at hand, what struck me most was that they did not care what others around them thought. I read their actions as almost self-empowering. That is, in some weird twisted way, they got off on knowing that a train car full of mostly adults were hearing them use curse word after curse word. They weren’t embarrassed or even reserved, it was like their conversation wasn’t at all about them talking and communicating with each other, it was about the rest of us hearing them.

I get that attention-seeking behavior, everyone exhibits it at some point, but the way they chose to get attention was what concerned me. I can remember being younger, 14 and 15 — just getting the freedom to go places without your parent(s). Wanting the world to know that you’re “grown” and being loud, seeking attention. I get that part. But never did I or my friends want to string a long-list of curse words together or rob and beat up a homeless man in order to get that attention. We wanted to seem older than we were, and we understood, unlike these teens, that there were specific ways to do that.

I want to work with at-risk teens and so I’m always watching teenagers. How they act with each other and the world around them. It fascinates me, but this behavior concerns me. What is going on in our society, our world, that is teaching these teens that violence and crassness is the way to find the attention we all want? At what point do they come to understand this as the way to get what they want? It’s nonsensical, it’s ridiculous and if we keep going down this path, what will be the state of our young people in 10 years?

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June 27, 2008 - Posted by | News, Ok. That was stupid

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