Why are young people so angry?

There’s no way anyone can ignore the terrible things currently happening with youth culture today. Well, okay, maybe if you’re rich and don’t have to live around such people. I am 21 myself so I hate to use phrases such as “the youth of today”, it just makes you sound old and ignorant so I will try not to use such terms.

My home town is Portsmouth, although I live in a nice area of it, Portsmouth is known for its chav population and horrible council estates. It’s a poor city and over-crowded so it’s to be expected. When I was younger I didn’t want to walk through a park if there was a group of suspect looking teenagers in there, even if I was older than them. How did such young children get so scary? Even middle aged men wouldn’t attack a group of kids hitting another kid if they were wary about their own life. Kids carry knives now, sometimes guns. Their either drunk or drugged up. Many say “it didn’t use to be this way” so what’s changed?

Young people have always been violent. Unfortunately it’s part of growing up, puberty. When we get out of our teenage years we forget what it was like, what we were like but at some point in time we’re explosive. We swear at our parents, slam the door and go get drunk with our mates. It’s almost always been that way because it’s natural to want to rebel, if only just a little bit. Smart parents will give their children controlled freedom so that their kids don’t want to go overboard with the rebelling. Alas, this is not true of every child. Some are more angry than others, more violent and there’s a good reason for it.

Well, there are many reasons. The obvious ones are: abuse, they’re being bullied themselves, they’re brought up in an aggressive environment, they’re copying their parents. We all know these things can cause someone to go off the rails. However, I think there’s a bigger problem afoot. The media.

How young people should look like. Right...?

Remember when the media created these people called “hoodies”? Yeah, me too. Hoodies are an item of clothing that people of all ages wear but to the media, they’re violent young people who like to do nothing more than rob the local shop or set a flat on fire. The media started to segregate young people from the rest of society. I was a teenager at the time and I felt angry. Not all of us are bad, I thought. They were pushing us all into one group because they’re too old to remember what being a teenager is like. Young people aren’t a separate species. You were a bastard once too. This was the start of the fire. Now all we ever hear in the media is there’s no jobs, other people are taking our jobs and there’s no point in going to university any more. Young people are being taught to give up before their lives have begun. I attend university and even THERE it’s drummed into you how the job market is hard, it will take a long time to find a job, your degree isn’t going to get you a job any more. It may be realistic but it’s depressing. It makes me angry because I think, am I wasting my time and getting myself into debt for nothing? And I am a rational-thinking person who comes from a good background. I have it pretty damn good. Think about how those young people living on council estates with little opportunities feel. They are SO angry.

Now I’m not saying it’s an excuse, it’s not. It doesn’t mean your life should turn to crime or stabbing people for the fun of it. But I believe the media is not helping. They may not have caused the problem but they’re not helping. All we hear is negative news day in day out. Do you want your children to grow up thinking “what’s the point?” Sadly the media will always report bad news and I don’t see things changing but my theory could help people understand what’s it’s like to be young again. When I was going through tough times my dad just said “what do YOU have to be stressed about?” He too has forgotten how hard life can be, even if you don’t have a job, kids and a house yet. Times can be just as tough emotionally and we must never, ever undermine how someone feels emotionally. It’s the most powerful thing we have and it’s why we are the way we are.

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The fat, the thin and the real women

The Ann Summers models - which ones of these is "real"?

A long going argument seems to be about what makes a “real woman”. It seems to boil down to this: If you’re skinny or attractive, you’re fake and if you’re plus sized with lots of curves, you’re real.

This has bothered me for a long time. I am naturally skinny. I’m size eight, I still have curves like other women and there’s nothing fake about me. I will probably never be bigger than my current size as this is the size I am naturally supposed to be, and I’ve gotten lucky with my genes. I also have friends who are the same as me, can’t put on weight, but are a lot skinnier than me. As in, naturally a size six. Ever since people have taken a stand against starved models (and so we should!), us naturally skinny people have been shunned as unsexy and unhealthy.

The winner of the Ann Summers’ “real women” model campaign is a plus-sized model and now there are various arguments happening (again). Some say she is not a good role model as she is size sixteen and technically over-weight, others say a big f*** you to skinny girls everywhere as because she has curves she is a “real woman”.

I’m on the fence about this, on one hand, it’s always good to see a variety of women being portrayed in the media. Even though an over-weight girl might not be a good role-model, they do exist and we shouldn’t ban images as such just because they’re not the ideal BMI. On the other hand, you can’t say someone is a real woman solely based on their looks. After all, every woman in that campaign has had their image touched up with the likes of photoshop. Every single image you see in the media has been adjusted with photoshop otherwise the images wouldn’t look as good. It means NONE of those women are “real women”, they’ve all had their blemishes removed and they’re all wearing ten tones of make up. There’s nothing very real about that.

The winner of the "real women" campaign, Lucy Moore

There was a similar issue with Zoo magazine. They’re planning to have an article in one of their issues about “real women” (naked of course), someone stole an editors mock-up of how the pages were to be changed before the final magazine was released. The photograph showed the editors red lines and note about how her bum should be curvier, her boobs should be perter, etc. It’s horrible but an accurate representation of what the media do to our bodies. No matter our size, we’re all made perfect before the photo is released, nothing is real nowadays so what the hell is a “real woman”?

If you’re looking for that, step outside. We walk around just like everybody else. We all have lumps and bumps, we all have spots and skin imperfections, we don’t all own an amazing rack or arse. I’m sorry, that’s just reality for you. Even Ms Jolie isn’t perfect. I’m pretty sure most people realise that, despite the images shoved down our throat on a daily basis. I don’t expect every man I meet to have rippling pecks like male models, in fact if they did it would be quite frightening.

The point is I urge people to stop this “real women” crap. In the media there’s no such thing and probably never will be. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat, thin, young or old. Please don’t critise slim women, they would love to have curves but we can’t hand pick our bodies, we just have to make do. Please don’t critise bigger women either, they exist, get over it. Skinny women can be just as unhealthy as fat women, it just doesn’t show as much on the outside.

Children playing violent video games: a sign of neglect?

After reading a great article on 9 year olds who like to play COD, it’s highlighted a possibly very important connection between children and video games.

Now, I’m sure all us gamers have played video games rated way above what we should have been playing. For example, when I was around fifteen, I was allowed to play Grand Theft Auto. My favourite thing to do was to drive around in cars and smash them up so bad they blew up. Unsure why. Anyway, my parents have allowed me to play such games because I’ve always been seen as fairly mature for my age and my dad had an interest in video games. After all, GTA was his game. He knew what it was like but he also knew what I was like. I was never a problem child, I had an attitude problem when I hit a certain age but what teen doesn’t? In any case, there would be no way I would disrespect my parents. I’d be in big trouble.

The problem I’ve noticed with most under-age kids playing fifteen or eighteen rated games is that their parents don’t know or care what’s involved. Like the above article says, most of these kids are lonely, video games are their only outlet because their parents are too busy to bring them up or bond with them properly. I too have found this whilst working at GAME over Christmas. You’d see young children coming to the counter with their parents. They hand over a game. It’s a game they shouldn’t be playing. You’d warn the parent about the content of the game but they’re on the phone. They’re talking business. Money. So with a sad sigh to yourself, you just find the game and hand it over to them. It’s passed to their child, naturally. They’re still on the phone. They haven’t said a word to me or the child. I’d seen the child earlier on, they had to go get their parent just so they could buy the game. The parent is disinterested, at least it shuts their kid up right? I’d feel genuinely sorry for the child that walked off.

In Kingston, where I currently reside, that’s the kind of parents you see all the time. There’s a lot of rich families in Kingston so they buy their kids whatever they want, ignoring the big 18 in the corner of the box simply because it will keep their child out of their hair. Now I may be being judgemental here, but I worry this trend is true. If you’re at an extreme end of the scale, either poor or rich, you’re parents are more likely to neglect you, and as a result, video games are your only comfort. Twenty years ago, this comfort may have been something else. Video games aren’t to blame, they’re just a part of today’s culture. I understand how hard it is when your child is begging for a game because “all their friends are playing it”. Just the other day, a kid wanted Battlefield 3 so bad but his mum didn’t like him playing game where he was just killing people, which was understandable, he wasn’t even a teenager yet. I heard her concerns and let her know not only is it violent, but there’s a lot of bad language in there. She smiled and appreciated she was getting this information. If only more parents knew if you turned over any video game box, it tells you why it’s been giving that rating.

The point that article about the 9 year olds makes is that the kids who enjoy COD as their favourite game tended to be the “problem children”. Is that a link to the video game itself? Or does that show what sort of an environment they come from? It’s possibly a bit of both. No matter which way you look at it, a child of 9 should not be playing an 18 rated game but it’s perhaps time that people stopped jumping to conclusion that “it’s the games fault”. Instead they need to look at children and their backgrounds. I bet their family life isn’t quite right. Children who become bullies are often bullied by their parents. This issue could just be another example of that.