“Teens are strange and magical. To us they seem a little like Precogs from Minority Report—soothsayers of a mysterious, social-media-powered hyperdrive future, because this is the realm they’re already living in. Who saw Facebook coming? Teens. Same with Twitter, Vine, and now Snapchat. This puts them in a curious position. It makes them one of the most inscrutable generations in history—to people who desperately want to scrutinize them.”-Mary H.K. Choi, “Like. Flirt. Ghost: A Journey Into the Social Media Lives of Teens.” Wired. August 25, 2016.
It’s always a little fun to revisit these breathless pieces that start from the premise that the social dynamics of high school are somehow going to be the future we are all going to inhabit. The basic ideas that Paul Graham discusses in various essays serve as a counter to this bad argument. See these three essays as examples:
- Why Nerds Are Unpopular: Because they care about other things more than being popular.
- What You’d Wish You’d Known: Adults realize they need to get things done. High school kids don’t.
- The Lesson to Unlearn: Stop hacking bad tests and find good tests to take.
Read the above article after reading those three essays. Doesn’t the already dated article seem even more ridiculous in light of these essays? I would be interested in a follow-up article, one that showed how much things had changed, even in just five years. Are they still actively managing these accounts like they are all influencers?
Also, weird aside, the one thing I couldn’t help but notice was how the twins had their shoes on in their home. Not only were they wearing shoes, but they were on every piece of furniture. Strikes me as a great way to get most of what you own dirty.
2 thoughts on “Teens Are Not Soothsayers”
I worked in a place that bought the Zandl Group’s Hot Sheet, which provides tween, teen slang broken down in four year demographic increments. I’ve always found this kind of research, or journalistic deep dives in this case, to be emblematic of some deep dysfunction in our society. But, hard to say what exactly is problematic, but envy is probably part of it.
Haven’t yet accepted your homework assignment. After all, I’m not in HS anymore. On first blush, I’d say that teens are merely more adaptable to whatever new media and influences pop up in the marketplace of ideas. They’re fundamentally more brainwashable than adults, like the child killers of the Khmer Rouge. I’d leave at like that except that, according to Jonathan Haidt, the social world of teenagers did grow or distort into a more mature social dynamic commencing around 2014, namely, safetyism. With the addition of Cultural Marxism (a loaded term, I’ll admit), it’s morphed itself yet again into Wokeism, which is nothing to dismiss with a wave of the hand.
Insofar as their being inscrutable, well, good for them. Better to resist and withstand the lures and depredations of the adult economic world bent on enslaving them to such such or another. Difficult not to see in the quote straightforward envy of youth for its freedom, vitality, and potential — all attributes that get muted or whittled away as one ages.
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