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Tue, 10 Jan 2006
Kids and the rest of us in a culture of fear - 18:49
I have mentioned some of the negative issues of the culture of fear we live within in the past, however reading something like this really makes me wonder if anyone listens to experts on the broader scale when it comes to youth culture.
Danah points out how when Columbine happened, the media in The Netherlands was quite sensibly coming out with stories about "how there was a school shooting by kids who felt alienated from their community." then when the US media started appearing it was more along the lines of "Goths (or anyone wearing black, especially black trench coats) were marked as the devil incarnate. Video games were evil and were promoting killing. Everything was blamed except the root cause: alienation."
Danah goes on to point out how people such as MIT Professor Henry Jenkins when testifying in Washington "about how dangerous our culture has become, not because there are tools of rage, but an unchecked systematic creation of youth alienation." (Children's Culture Plea) appeared to be completely ignored in favour of the easily sold media darling of evil kids.
Danah says a few more really interesting things here, wondering how youth come of age when protectionist actions create hatred and resentment, how ageist rhetoric alienates younger people. Or the US centred (but probably still valid to an extent here with compulsory voting) question of "Ever wonder why young people don't vote? Why should they? They've been told for so damn long that their voices don't matter". I once linked to some studies pointing out drugging children to make them happy doesn't really work, however Danah goes further with "We drug our children the whole way through school as a mechanism of control and wonder why drug abuse and alcoholism is rampant when they come of age.". I could continue quoting this article however i strongly recommend it be read for some perspective on youth culture.
As mentioned Danah was on fire with the youth issues in November, a week after the above article she posted her perspective on a rather poor appearing new law in California which is mostly about how the respect of your children (And youth in general) should be earned and you should not attempt to enforce it, also she points out how important giving youth their own agency is, let them choose, let them make their own mistakes. This really echos strongly with me because of how I think my Mother raised Jane and I rather well. Our mother would never explicitly forbid us from doing things, if we started doing something foolish or mentioned something she disagreed with we intended to do she would tell us she thought it inane and stupid, however she would not forbid the activity and if we set our minds to it would not stop us from learning for ourselves. This works amazingly well because it really does allow you to gain respect for your parents.
Anyway both links are a good read, Thanks Danah.
For those who do not know, it is a cartoon that has appeared in the MBUK mountain biking magazine since the 80s. Mint Sauce is a philosophical mountain biking sheep, and a damn good read I think. I almost religiously collected MBUK from some time in 1992 until around 1996 sometime (including the year I lived in England throughout 1993) and really do have fond memories of the cartoon. (and all the back issues in storage along with posters and stickers and other paraphernalia)
MBUK has a link to this archive at the moment which means it is probably fairly new, good to see a link to it on the wikipedia stub too. This brings back so many memories, maybe I should get some of the stickers out of storage and decorate one of my bikes a bit, except of course JJJim already has some Mint Sauce stickers on his Ventana so I would just be following the crowd again.