Thursday, May 28, 2009

"The years teach much which the days never knew."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The New York Times had an opinion piece the other day entitled, "Teenage Fads, Forever Young." Four adult women, each some kind of specialist in teenage behavior speculated about today's adolescents. Each woman wrote about her own experience as a teenager, the fads that were followed and spread. Each seemed bemused by high schoolers today, with their texting and frequent hugging. 

One concluded, 
Just as many parents in the past never really knew what teenagers talked about holed up in their rooms or in the food courts or parking lots, the conversations and content shared among teens and tweens online remain a mystery to many of today’s parents — with the exception of that rare teen who has no secrets from mom or dad and is happy to friend them on Facebook.

This amused me. I know teenagers keep secrets from their parents, and they talk to their friends differently than they talk to their parents, but none of the women touched on this trend: millenials, gen-yers, and people like me, at the tale end of gen x, are friends with our parents. We're not just friends in the Facebook sense of the word; rather, we genuinely enjoy each other's company. 

But what struck me most about this piece (or, I should say, what bothered me most) is that four adult women were writing about the teenage experience. They were generalizing. They were treating teenagers like specimens. I guess in some ways I do the same thing, write about something to understand it better, but the fact that they had four separate adult voices and not one teenage voice speaking for himself or herself, is troublesome. And judging by the comments that followed the article, it wasn't just troublesome for me. 

It's so easy to tear things apart. Find the flaws. Criticize. 

Maybe tomorrow I'll put things together and compliment. Tomorrow is Friday, after all.

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