DO TODAYS YOUTH REALLY HAVE IT BETTER?

The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Socrates 470 – 399 B.C

The youth are living in a world with less violence, better economic stability, better education and an increasingly equal society, yet things aren’t all peachy for these prepubescent peeps. This is the best time to be a young person, if you believe the statistics – yet somehow these facts have not reached today’s youth who have the highest rates of depression, anxiety and suicide of any generation of young people. How could it be that a generation of people who have access to information like never before, access to the best technology, health care and education, still have such high rates of mental health issues and suicide? Its always been tricky being an adolescent, dealing with the difficulty of an adult but with the emotional maturity of a child. Not yet having the perspective to know that difficult times pass and there is value in all our emotions. It is like knowing the issues of an adult with the brain and emotional capacity of a 10 year old… the results can be disastrous.

The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of  today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress. – Peter The Hermit 1274 A.D

The Impact of Social Media
Today’s youth has also grown up in a world where mobile phones are prolific social media is inescapable and relationships are often temporary. Despite the improvements that society is making, teen suicide and mental illness is on the rise (REFERENCE). How can we make sense of these two facts? 

Suicide, for me, is more about social isolation and self judgement than any other factor. The youth of today are connecting via new and exciting mediums, however tools such as social media have demonstrated over time to have counter-productive effects on people including increased rates of depression and anxiety (REFERENCE) as well as a distorted self image complexion (REFERENCE).

Essena’s Story
​After coming across an article about Australian teen Essena O Niel quitting social media and revealing details of what is was like behind the scenes, I am considering the effects of kids feeling more pressure to be perfect as a result of social media and in turn, the changing difficulties of being a young person in Australian society.

What struck me about Essenas story, is her honesty about the impact that social media has had on her self esteem and emotional experience. She reveals starving herself and posing for the same photo hundreds of times before having a moment of happiness about looking good in the image. She is discussing a learned vanity that is normal for kids in modern society. She discusses how far she has to go to feel validated and happy with herself and ends with self discovery, am epiphany that humans aren’t supposed to be like this and it is not sustainable to always be perfect and pulling out of won’t make you happy anyway.

I’m glad that Essena was able to come to this conclusion but it forces me to think how many other kids are out there striving for the impossible and seeking external validation to overcome an internal emptiness.

Yes, young people in contemporary society have many blessings and convieniences, those which generations before would have trouble believing. But the other truth is young people of today have almost insermountable challenges which have proved both pervasive and life threatening. 

This begs the question; is it harder to be a young person in today’s society?

Tah

Ray