Teenagers. What magnificent creatures. They are the foundation of what must be at least half of all ‘current affairs’ stories in the media; they are seen as immature, naïve, highly self-important, sex and drug driven imbeciles… And as much as I’d like to say this is completely unsubstantiated and fictitious media drivel, it sadly doesn’t ring far from the truth at all.
I attend a rural Catholic high school, one of five high schools within the immediate area. The school would be considered as an ‘average’ Australian secondary institution, with around seven-hundred students and a core group of well-trained, if sometimes completely incompetent, teachers.
The majority of students come from a conservative background and there isn’t much in the way of diversity or multiculturalism. It’s the perfect breeding ground for the quintessential ‘Aussie’ teenager, and in turn the textbook place for a future ‘Teenagers gone wild’ news headline. Their close-mindedness and unbelievable sense of self-importance is at times shocking.
The recent ABC program ‘Ja’mie: Private School Girl’ is meant to be seen as a satirical look at the life of a self-absorbed teen girl, attending a private college, and living on Sydney’s affluent North Shore. But in all honesty it’s a beautifully accurate glimpse into what many of the attendees, both male and female, personalities are like at my country, unisex, average Australian school. It is unbelievably difficult to have conversations with many of my fellow teens as they are just so obsessed with their own world.
You ask them how their weekend was, for example, and they’ll give you a half hour rendition of their utterly tedious end-of-week activities, but you listen, as that’s what a normal person does, right? They never ask you how your life is in return, in fact I don’t think it’s ever happened really, but why should they care? You aren’t them. Sadly though, this ignorance isn’t even the worst facet of the modern teen…
Let’s start with the females. The media’s perception of teenage girls being body-image obsessed and naïve sadly runs rather true at my school, and I can say with absolute confidence that the majority of the girls at my school fit into this category perfectly; and I don’t blame them for one second.
The society around them makes them who they are; every single influence on their life is shockingly negative. Even people who should be considered role-models, such as their teachers, conform to the mainstream social ideas on how a girl should act or dress. One perfect example was whilst on a recent school trip, the vast majority of these young women were wearing short shorts or skimpy dresses, whilst one, my girlfriend (one of the very few not unlike myself), decided to wear Doc Martens, a singlet and a skirt, which in turn caused one teacher to ask her ‘Why don’t you dress like a normal person?’.
When I heard this I sat in shock. This ‘role model’ would have preferred her not to have expressed herself through one of the most effective means possible, the way she was dressed, and be a ‘part of the crowd’; a crowd that insists on wearing clothing in which half of their bum pokes out of the bottom of their shorts.
Remember: this is a leader within my community.
Then there’s naivety. This is a huge issue in our teenage society, especially for girls. Now I’m not saying that girls are more naïve then guys, or vice-versa, I’m saying that many of the girls, at least at my school, don’t understand the consequences of what they do, especially in this wonderful age of instant communication, and also underestimate the primeval attitudes and sexual motivations of the majority of teenage boys. There is a multitude of stories that have arisen from my peers about how girls have been manipulated by guys, with the girls seeking someone to ‘love and cuddle’ whilst the guys search for someone to have sex with, culminating in broken-hearts and reputations.