Here are just a few choice articles she's discovered:
- 'Eyeballing' Fad has Teens Pouring Vodka into Eyes (Fox News)
- Study: Teens Who Skip Breakfast Lose Virginity Earlier (Fox News)
- Kids Arrested for Water Balloon Fight, Parents Sue (Gothamist)
These, along with the dozens of other ridiculous news stories featured on Old People Insulting Young People, are evidence of how the culture we live in is quick to sell teenagers by wayside in the name of gaining readers/buyers. I spoke to Amanda regarding the trends she's noticed in collecting these articles:
Teenagerie: Why do you think news sources are so eager to portray young people as lazy/self-centered/internet-crazed/etc?
Amanda Cormier: It varies, but I think a lot of people at media outlets feel threatened by young people. Every generation of teenagers brings new skills to the workforce, but right now, teenagers and young adults are incredibly adept at using the Internet -- we've been called Internet natives, which is a term I'm comfortable with. In news media especially, young people are coming into the field with Internet publishing and multimedia skills that many older journalists are rushing to learn. I sometimes sense a sort of bitterness about this in trend pieces that lambaste young people as being "addicted to the Internet" or "entitled" to have great jobs. The bitterness is not always there, but sometimes it's pretty obvious.
I often question the utility of doing studies or writing articles that label young people as self-centered. It's like, really? Young people are always going to be self-centered, because young people don't have families to support. It's just natural. And so what? An equivalent generalization that will never be printed in papers: "More and more elderly adults feel entitled to Social Security." What's so interesting is that many Baby Boomers used to be vigilantly anti-ageist. "Never trust anyone over 30" was a kind of catch phrase in the 1960s and 1970s. I wonder what those guys think now.
T: How do you think that our generation differs from the generations that have come before?
AC: In my experience, our generation is just as resourceful as those that came before, but in a quieter, different way.
The Internet "native" part of us makes it easier for us to find information and to use it in a beneficial way. Sure, we're really good at stupid things like stalking people on Facebook, but we're also really fucking good at finding cheap sublets on Craigslist, or finding ways to use social media for charitable organizations....
We're finding ways to deal with the problems tech has caused our relationships, just as generations long before had to deal with the effects of the telephone or the fax on their relationships. We have a lot in common with generations before, which is something I don't often read about.
T: How accurate would you say media representations of teens are?
AC: Yes, we text a lot. Yes, we think about sex a lot. Sometimes, we think about sex in our texts.
In my experience, though, I've met countless informed, eager, hardworking, selfless and intelligent young people at college and even in high school. Perhaps this is a result of where I go to school and where I was raised. But the fact that these wonderful humans are lumped with millions of others in awful, poorly researched generalizations offends me.
In general, it's poor journalism to write trend pieces on such widely-encompassing groups, simply because there is so much variation in the millions of people that are described by "Millenial."
T: How would you prefer to see our generation described?
AC: I don't think people in our generation have enough in common to be described in one particular way. I'd rather see some variation -- hell, maybe even some positivity every once in a while -- in the stories reported on people in our generation. There is no utility or service in applying labels to or performing ridiculous studies on us.
Edited to add: This article off Reuters explains some of the reasons that these types of articles may be so popular with older folks. Thanks for the tip Charles!
Older people enjoy reading negative stories about young by Bernd Debusmann
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