I had a shocker of a time as a teenager. From age 13-16, life sucked. Maybe I’ll write about it one day, but for now let’s just say I wouldn’t go back and do those years again if you paid me in cold hard cash and pretty handbags. When I was 16, things started to change and that was largely due to the people I met, the group that pulled me in and the confidence it gave me. Some of those people are still my closest friends. The kind of ‘don’t speak to for months, then it’s like no time has passed at all’ people. You know the kind.
Anyway I got to talking about these people and that time with new friends this weekend and it got me thinking. I was a teen in the mid 90’s. No one had a mobile phone let alone access to Facebook or Twitter (our school only got internet access in 96. On one computer in the library. That you had to book to use!). If we wanted to find out what was going on in each other’s lives, we had to use the landline (after 6pm) or meet up. In person. We rarely made plans. The summer evenings were for hanging out. But we never made ‘appointments’ or sent iCals. No, we had the ‘circuit’. Our circuit was a network as much any social media platform; only ours was a network of roads, within a self defined area of my home town. Our way of finding each other was to go to those roads. Our plans went as far as “Stay on the circuit. I’ll find you” We didn’t know where each other would be, we just trusted that one or more or us would be there somewhere. And we were.
Teenagers today would never need to be so haphazard. Every meet up can be planned and re-planned and cancelled and locations changed at the ping of a message on any one of the hundreds of social media platforms available. And that makes me just a little sad. Surely it takes some of the spontaneity and indeed camaraderie out of those fleeting years. Or maybe it doesn’t, who the hell am I? I don’t know any teenagers. I’m just making old people assumptions. But in my eyes everyone using the same platforms and having access to everyone else at all hours makes me wonder if these kids wont lose some of the freedom, the uncertainty, the fun I had growing up? Which may or may not be a bad thing. I mean the only time we ever arranged to all be somewhere in advance was for the occasional party at someone’s house. And they NEVER went well (I mean parts of them were brilliant, but something always went awry, usually caused by the same over hormonal girl – not me may I add!) I bet today’s teens could arrange a much better house party than we ever could. We were so unused to organising that we would whip ourselves up into a ridiculously over excited frenzy. Like toddlers hepped up on sugar. No wonder it always went wrong. Today’s teens are so much more sophisticated than we were. I bet they’d never get so excited over a silly house party.
Or maybe they would? I hope so. I hope today’s kids spend as many hours as I did daydreaming about this month’s favourite guy, or deliberating over which dress to wear to the next party, or playing albums til they know all the words off by heart. I hope they have real friends, who they can muddle through these bonkers years with, people they can be themselves with, whatever that may be. The new friend I was talking with this weekend, was of the opinion that teenagers have been homogenized and that there is no opportunity for sub-cultures to exist or develop any more. I hope that’s not true. An entire generation of teens thinking and doing and being the same thing, is going to result in some fucking boring adults.
Do you have teens? What do they reckon to all of this? Do they think I’m just old and out of touch? I’d love to know.