Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Friendly Reminder


This is addressed to those of you who are over 30, or 40, who are in the news media, those of you who don't understand why those punk kids wear shorts and stocking caps the year 'round.

Don't tease us. Sometimes what you see can be pretty stupid, I can't speak for everyone in the preteen-to-young adult culture. We aren't unified. We aren't the new enlightened generation. The current youth culture is divided into a wide variety of subcultures and I only subscribe to a few. I watch the other ones, because they're like neighbors ya know? What I'd like to address here is a couple underlying issues that are widespread and basic, and ultimately flow over into other areas of human life as well.

One of those fundamental issues is respect.

I was listening to a lively young talk show host; female, 40ish, she had a good style to talk politics and news. I was wondering what she'd say if she ran into a news article that mentioned one of the youth subcultures I'm involved in; furry fandom. Basically, it's about playing games and reading media that has humanlike animals instead of human characters. I doubt she could handle the topic well; it's too far removed from the interests of "responsible" adults. That's what started this whole train of thought. There is a good many similar examples, and actual cases where the adults of the status quo misunderstand, misinform and misrepresent the interests and practices of youth culture.

All people tend to belittle things they don't understand. To use an example older adults will understand: In business and government foreign policy, and when considering dealings with foreigners it is understood you need to be considerate of their differences. You may not understand them very well, but you know that the foreigners you are dealing with are honored or important in their country or business, and therefore you need to accommodate them and be understanding.

Just looking at youth culture examples and not many other areas, we most often learn about other people's culture and interests from negative press. The day to day happenings of a subculture don't get noticed. So if you hear about furry fandom it will likely be because of something inappropriate being peddled to children, some bizarre crime, someone's embarrassing mistake, some example of today's decadency or weirdness. So Ms. Status Quo reading the newspaper is likely to think we're a bunch of looser freaky kids and dangerous adults wasting time on the internet.

Much could be argued about the merits and problems of one person's lifestyle over another. This isn't the place for that. What I would like is to find - sometime before you're all in nursing homes and my peers and I are running the mainstream culture - is a news article, a comment, someone's statement that treats some youth culture item with respect. That's what most "kids" want. You don't have to like our hobbies, fiction and music, we'd just like you to recognize that what you just heard about is liked and enjoyed by people, not "mindless punks". Don't assume the worst until you've researched and understand the field. The strangeness of youth culture isn't going to go away. It only changes amongst itself, and spreads in influence as those involved grow older. No matter how much you disagree and/or dislike something, if you show their side some respect, then it gives them the opportunity to respect you. Common decency isn't gone; it is the backbone of most all subcultures, hobbies and lifestyles. It's just communicated differently. This communication problem can be quite difficult between some subcultures. In this modern era, geographic and language differences are greatly diminished. With transportation and a handful of common languages, you can interact with anyone. What we have now is steep subculture differences; so the suit wearing professional on Wall Street has a very hard time understanding his blue haired raver son. But both desire respect.

The new and old generations ultimately want the same things. We want people to like us. We want to pursue our interests. We want to create valuableness of some sort. So please don't tease us. We will be where you are one day, and I don't think you'd like it vary much.

1 comment:

Jonathan Wold said...

Very well said bro :).