Jonal entry 1121 | July 30 2010
This is a unique Jonal, a repurposing of a column that I published
in the San Jose newspaper group that I was the executive editor
of for seven years. This appeared in June, 1991I was the
single parent of three teenagers at the timeand though it
may be a little dated (when did you last see a reference to "Yuppies"?,
and the mention of Peter Pan syndrome may have been influenced
by coverage of the then-current superstar Michael Jackson), the
basic ideas stand up, at least to my thinking.
Waiting for love
I wrote several months ago about differences between today's
teenagers and my generation's teen years, observing among other
things that we went to movies about adults to find out what being
adults would be like. Today's kids don't seem to care what being
adults will be like and don't support movies about adults. The
aversion to growing up (referred to by some as the Peter Pan syndrome)
is evident in many social trends: delaying marriage, the yuppie
preoccupation with playing and toys, and more. Not saying it's
all bad; who at 45 or 50 wouldn't rather be 27 or 17 and a kid
again, or at least enjoy life at a 17 or 27 level of intensity.
Now, some further thoughts dawn in my muddled mind. Though an
indirect connection seems apparent on the surface, the most direct
reason for the aversion to adulthood is most likely the sexual
revolution. Many teenagers experimented with sex before the 1960s,
the pill and its backup system, abortion, and the Playboy philosophy,
too, but the basic values kids live with (not necessarily live
by, but with) have changed. In 1955, no matter how many kids weren't
virgins, the consensus was that promiscuous sex was wrong. Even
kids who don't rush into sexual intimacy today are conditioned
to think that sex as play is, if not entirely moral, at least
Perhaps the greatest disservice the sexual revolution has done
to kids is rob them of romance. Sex and love are so divorced in
the prevailing value system derived from the movies, TV, and advertising,
where heros and heroines jump into bed nowadays without even wondering
if love may matter, that love has an entirely new meaning. Love
is for engagements and marriage; sex has become another aerobic
exercise and a substitute for teddy bears.
The prevailing values of the '50s held that romantic love was
the best life had to offer; today, instead of saving themselves
for love, the media's stereotypical youth save love as a last
resort for the time when real fun has to be put aside lest the
biological clocks run out.
What do you think? Do your observations corroborate mine, or
am I all wet?
And it seems appropriate to add: are the lifestyles and mores
of today's teenagers much changed from those of 1991?
Webmaster Jon Kennedy