I hate the term “youth”. What is a “youth”? Who are these “youths”? Who on earth even uses the term “youth”? What is the “youth of today”? The more I look at the shape of that word, youth, the more it seems like a horrible, slouchy, lazy word. Something that slips off a bogan tongue, perhaps?
The yoof. The yoof are apparently between childhood & maturity but no longer tweens. The yoof can’t vote. The yoof of tomorrow are our (dismal) future. The yoof are cynical and disengaged. The yoof are selfish and entitled. The yoof are sexxy.
Oh to visit the fountain of YOOF.
I’m sure I was once a YOOF. What “adulthood” supposedly means (ie maturity) keeps getting stretched out further and further. 30 is a “young writer”, 40 is a “young politician”. A lot of that is old ground trodden by “Gangland: cultural elites and the new generationalism” by Mark Davis which I read a bit of in someone’s bathroom as a 16 year old before I moved to Australia.
It did shock me when one of my juniors today exclaimed that world politics (of which she can only remember 2001 onwards in detail) was completely screwed and that there was no hope and no point in caring and that in fact no-one else cared. It was a scary thought. And someone else pointed out that one of the problems with Australian politics right now is that the electorate has lost its empathy with other people- thus the lack of moral leadership.
Not all the YOOF are like this. Maybe we need to stop talking about THE YOOF and instead focus on particular demographics. Perhaps Bernard Salt‘s idea of 5 major regional patterns in culture/politics is an important one- suburban/inner city/coastal/inlands/outback. It’s entirely possible that people were not in fact born in discrete “generations” such as the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y & Gen Z. What happens after Z? QUELLE HORREUR.
Many good things have come from Progress. Multiculturalism, GLBTIQ rights, gender equality to name a few. While things such as the breakdown of the extended family unit (leading to the nuclear family and thus higher divorce rates and familial instability) have not had such a glowing influence. Post-2001 politics stands in stark contrast to the 90’s, the first decade in several in which the threat of world war or global thermonuclear annhilation was not a Damocles‘ Sword over us.
I don’t see how people are meant to stay active or engaged however if they’re infantilised as “THE YOOF”. If they’re expected to never play unsupervised. If they’re told “you can’t have everything as a woman and what you actually want is babies not a career” or that “nice guys finish last and are effeminate and there are no male role models so you have free reign to be a dick”. If they’re financially bound to staying in their parents’ houses due to rental costs. If the media sexualises people and then calls them sluts for conforming or being victimised. If they’re not taken seriously.
This is an ongoing problem in society. Part of these problems are part of the natural process of the elder generations claiming that the new ones are immature and weak until they are surpassed. Part of it is a gradual shift that has happened over the last century. Part of it is very new.
If THE YOOF ARE OUR FUTURE OF TOMORROW and THE YOOF HAVE LOST THEIR WAY, then it’s our job to make sure this is corrected.
Perhaps talking to them would be a start.