Listening to the radio recently there was a series of interviews with female war correspondents through the decades. I know one of the question posed to them was “how did it effect you?” But even so the difference in responses were quite apt.
To me they showed the total opposites between how young people were in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s and how they are now. I was surprised to hear how a correspondent from an earlier generation said she liked being in a plane that was going to bomb something or somewhere. And she lied to the parents of those killed in action a lot. She say they died with the best medical attention available when they clearly hadn’t. She would say too that they died for a good cause when really she believed government allied forces should be held accountable for their soldier’s death. She made it all about the soldiers and the war even when the question was about her.
Another veteran reporter surprisingly said her life was worth the work in some cases. Basically confirming that she thought the reporting was worth dying for.
Both these views completely contrasted with a response given by another correspondent in her early twenties that had been asked the same questions. To her it was all about herself. How she “internalised” and had to “process” what had happened to her. Obviously not for a second do I intend to trivialise war or the anxious and painful memories it cultivates for all involved. For example we know now about things we didn’t know then, PTSD being just one. But I can guarantee you whatever she was feeling was nothing compared to the people fighting it or the communities that were decimated by it.
For me though this view sums up how young adults are today. Teenagers have always been self-centred, selfish and self-absorbed. It’s kind of a luxury afforded to them, consistent with the transition between young adult and adulthood. Indeed, some never change and stay the same all through their adult life.
Why are there new words for everything now? Even this new generation. Words that have been made up or two different words joined together. There are already two hundred and fifty thousand words in the English language. Can’t we use one of them?
Taking all this into consideration, what I see before me now is a generation like nothing that has gone before. It is all about them, all the time. Their opinions, their rights, their prerogative to talk and swear at a thousand decibels. Their right to leave a trail of vape smoke behind them. Their right to be easily offended. Also, their right to complain about Brexit when at least forty percent didn’t even vote.
They seem to have a belief that they know it all about everything, all the time. Forgive me but when all you’ve done is gone to school, college, lived with your parents and then breezed off to university to do a thesis on the indigenous population of Ecuador, that does not make you the world or otherwise renowned in the field of everything.
Young adults are increasingly becoming more like the computers, apps, and consoles they seem addicted to. Everything has to be instant, it’s a yes or a no, on or off. Universities were being instructed not to encourage debate for fear someone could be offended. There is now a directive in some universities to ban the clapping when showing appreciation as it may offend those who don’t see clapping as a collective recognition of gratitude. It started in Manchester in order to make appreciation more inclusive so now students use “jazz hands.” If this is because there are people in the audience with autism, sensory issues or deafness and it causes issues then I guess there is a reason for it but, where do we stop?
I guess we look at the peanuts on a plane example. If there is a flight with 200 passengers and 199 passengers like peanuts and 1 has a peanut allergy should peanuts be banned from the plane?
And that’s another thing, look how many people suffer from life threatening allergies now. Scientists reckon the home needs to be cleaner to separate inside bacteria and outside bacteria. Well I reckon that’s hokum. Children should be in the garden and outdoors and play with mud and have things in little quantities as they grow up so they build up a tolerance to it. Allergies, for the most part can reflect life. You need to be exposed to things you don’t like at first in order to become used to them.
Don’t you get it? Don’t be dismissive and despondent as soon as someone disagrees with you. Or don’t just agree, then walk off and troll them or go ballistic on social media. You don’t have to confront them. You can have a conversation. Try one. They are great. You might actually find something you agree on. In fact, find that first, then go from there. I guarantee you could find something to agree on regardless of their or your age, beliefs, gender, or religious or sexual persuasion. Phones can be banished to your pocket or even better, just turned off, so you don’t palpitate at the new message sounding and you talk to each other.
I like seeing teenagers and young adults in love. They always looks so happy for that moment, day, week, or longer. One of the reasons I see wonder is because when you are older love means different things shaped by different experiences. It is balanced against the hurt that has gone before. Teenagers and young adults don’t have much to compare it to.
In the same way when we look at modern society and the attitude of some young adults it does perplex me. You talk about how we are ruining the planet, and how Brexit will ruin your future. Yet your entire existence seems to be governed by the immediacy of what’s right in front of your nose, and that’s normally a phone. A phone which you “have to” upgrade every six months. Do you know what happens to all the old ones? Do you have any idea of how they are made and the impact to the environment both their manufacturer and their disposal causes and costs?
Toxic materials, and precious metals are used in the manufacture and how and where do you think these are removed? By trained employees of the massive corporations that manufacturer them in the first place or by 12 year olds on dumps and wastelands in China and India wearing no protective clothing and breathing in fumes?
Don’t’ get me wrong, people in their forties and beyond make mistakes too. I’m not saying they don’t. Just look at the government for evidence and the general public as a whole too.
At the very least, if you don’t agree with an opinion at least try to understand it, not just tolerate it or refuse it unconditionally.
One area where you have my sympathy, (if that’s OK) is with the housing market and therefore the choices for young adults. It’s a lovely cliché for the government to say unemployment is at an all-time low but we are all working harder, longer, (hours and years), and for less, in terms of pay and holiday. Well some of us are anyway.
The family home I lived in when I was growing up was worth about two hundred thousand pounds in the 1990’s. My family has long since moved out but that property must be worth over one million pounds now easily. Has salaries gone up commensurately? Of course they haven’t. Flats where I live now were two hundred thousand, then three hundred, then four hundred and some now are four hundred and fifty thousand. It is ridiculous. I can’t afford to live in one either. I rent, and I can barely afford that as it goes up too. Again, is my salary? No.
Why am I telling you this? Because, if you haven’t already guessed, inflated house and flat prices are reflective, indicative of the virtual environment in which we all now reside. These prices may seem real because they exist but they are not. This can in some large part be attributed to a government that a long with the banks invented the term “quantitative easing” and preside over a one point three trillion pound deficit.
There was a housing crash in 2008 and that should have continued. It didn’t. And now the next one we have very soon will make that one look like a lost wallet.
So back on topic. My message to you is this. I know that in lots of ways this country has changed for the better. It has and it needed to. But in some ways it has got a whole lot worse. Some decisions that are made are hard but they have to be taken. Fairness and opportunity have to be paramount and disparity should be banished. Along with quite a few other things. I urge you to believe in whatever you want to but know all you can about it first.
I also implore you to join a political party, debate, inform, learn and change this country for the better. Because although you may have no faith in the older generation, I for one have faith in you. Hey, we could even start by talking about vinyl records and why you like them if you do? It’s time for you to wake up, shake the snow off and make a difference.
Feel free to reply with your opinions and arguments, and not just send a tweet because I’m not on Twitter. I would say you could write me a letter. How is your handwriting? By the way the word argument is not necessarily a bad word. You hold someone’s attention when you argue with them and you can learn new things about yourself as well as others. Perhaps another point of view, as I could from you.
Mark Scotchford © 22/10/2018