An 18-year-old man walks down Spring Garden Street on an extremely dark and cold winter evening. The teen, clad in a black hooded sweatshirt and studded leather jacket adorned with punk rock pins, minds his business and walks swiftly. He is waiting on a street corner when a middle-aged businessman with briefcase in hand walks by. The gray-haired man is transfixed for some reason and stares at the youth for about 30 seconds.
The youth looks up and the businessman becomes flustered, and starts apologizing profusely. “I am so sorry, I thought you were someone else, please don’t hurt me.”
This is where I step in and ask the man why he is scared of me. Is it because I am a passive teenager who has never committed a crime or inflicted bodily harm on another human being? He just shrugs, obviously embarrassed and just strolls along his way.
From day one, you are taught to respect your elders. Supposedly, knowledge comes with age, so therefore your elders are the wisest. But what happens when your elders don’t respect you? Middle-aged to elderly Americans have this common stereotype that teenagers and college students are bad — that they aren’t to be trusted.
College students have an extremely hard time establishing credibility in today’s society. Many older folks think that we are a bunch of baggy-pants-wearing-ecstasy-using-gun-toting-ravers and/or thugs. Teens are blamed for the world’s woes.
If you turn on the television you’re likely to get some “in-depth” report on the how teens use ecstasy and attend those “all-night orgies” called raves.
Better yet, you may get a story from some shoddy undercover reporter who infiltrated a frat party and unmasked the seedy happenings.
You have to wonder why adults think today’s youth are going to screw up the world. It’s due in part to today’s media. Everywhere you turn you have what I like to call, the “What’s wrong with the future of America” stories. These are those 20/20 and Dateline NBC stories that everyone’s parents have seen.
These are the same stories that prompt your parents and grandparents to sit down and make their own vague attempt at trying to understand our generation.
Baby-boomers turn on their TVs and see shows like The Real World and Beverly Hills 90210 — shows that promote a horrendous image of teenagers. No one lives like the kids on Beverly Hills or Real World. Our parents see shows titled “My Uncontrollable Teen”, or “Help, My Teen’s Out of Control” on Maury Povich and Jerry Springer and think their child is headed on the same dysfunctional path.
Some feel that it’s those damn baggy pants that make us teens so violent. Others swear that it’s the rap music that we listen to that makes us mad at the world.
Well after hours and hours of thought I have finally come to a conclusion. We are not that scary, it is the close-minded older adults that are wrong. Not all of us attend all night raves, frat parties, “evil” rock concerts or rap shows. Not all of us use ecstasy, deal crack, or guzzle pint after pint of beer. Generation X, Y, Z, or whatever we are labeled as, are a force to be reckoned with. All of the baggy-pant, Gap-clad, college students are going to ruin America as we know it. Well at least that is what our parents and grandparents think.