Trend setters

The other day, I wrote a post that opened up some conversation regarding today’s teenagers and twentysomethings and the way they dress and behave. Fingers point in a lot of different directions which all have validity to them, at least to a degree.

Let me just say that young people are not all of a sudden more vulnerable to outside influences than they have been at any other time in history. Dating back to the early years of the 20th century, fashion has continued to push the boundaries set in previous generations. Pop culture has always been at the leading edge of influence. Music and film has always been a huge factor in trends. From Mae West to Lady Gaga, Elvis to the knuckleheads from The Jersey Shore, America’s young people have had a steady diet of outrageous behavior from the perceived glamorous lives of the rich and famous.

Where today’s youth has it especially tough over previous generations is the proliferation social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter. Elementary school kids are carrying cell phones with cameras, able to take pictures and videos of themselves and others on demand.Then they’re able to post them on the worldwide web in seconds, with instant fame, or infamy, free for the taking.

Girls and boys from a very young age are losing their modesty. They’re losing their inhibition. This is nothing new. It’s just that technology has given them the tools to take things to a troubling new level. This behavior only intensifies as they age. The pressures they face to be noticed and feel relevant are overwhelming. They are being taught that the more outrageous they are, the more attention they will receive. Whether that’s with attention-grabbing attire, posting provocative pictures, sexting, among many other risky activities, today’s youth is traveling down a very slippery slope.

We cannot expect pop culture to reverse this trend. We cannot expect that technology is going to make things easier. It’s up to us to be a good example. We cannot be more concerned with keeping in touch with our own youth by being “cool” to them. This generation of young people, including adults in their 20s, need us to take them seriously. We need to appreciate the pressures and influences that bombard them. We need to listen and watch. We need to exercise wisdom. We need to be someone they want to emulate…for the right reasons.

They have plenty of people to follow for the wrong ones.

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