Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The Kids are All Right

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  • Idiot Savant,

    It'd be a start, I think, if we asked "young people" (that being an amorphous blob, like "the gays") why they aren't voting.

    Obvious answer: because most of them aren't legally allowed to. The law tells them at a crucial time that their political views don't count. Is it any wonder they react accordingly?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Sorry Emma but I have to call you on
    "We’re also passing on to them, possibly for the first time, a world worse than the one we grew up"
    What do think it was like for my parents in 1935 or German kids in 1945

    Things are tough now but that is nothing new, what is new is the middle class, middle aged moaning about how everything has gone to the dogs but it isn't their fault and they are reluctant to do anything about it. Further more anyone else but them are going to fix it and pay for it

    No wonder young people are cynical

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    This current bunch of teens are actually pretty damn great, I think. We Gen Xers raised us some kids who are more liberal, more questioning, and less risk-taking than we were at their age.

    1000 per cent agreement. I know lots of seriously amazing teenagers who stun me with their insights, humanity and general "people" literacy.

    It'd be a start, I think, if we asked "young people" (that being an amorphous blob, like "the gays") why they aren't voting. They're not idiots, they know.

    A week ago our just-turned-16 son stunned his parents with "I'm writing a blog for Bomber." Pardon? "That guy on the Daily Blog asked me if I wanted to write a blog so I've done it. Wanna look?" And it was on this topic, so I'm reposting because every part of this is Finn's own work, his passion, his action that made it happen.

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/03/22/guest-blog-finn-jackson-teenage-lobotomy/

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    Things are tough now but that is nothing new, what is new is the middle class, middle aged moaning about how everything has gone to the dogs but it isn’t their fault and they are reluctant to do anything about it.

    Raymond, my mother was born in 1928. She got the Depression, and then World War II for her teenage years. That period was way rougher than anything my kids have encountered. But it stopped. And also, her parents went through it with her.

    I'm talking about us creating an ongoing, long-term situation of pollution damage and resource scarcity, and leaving our kids to deal with the worst of it. This generation, for the first time, has a shorter life-expectancy than their parents.

    And no. Middle-aged middle-class moaning isn't new either. It's been around as long as there's been a middle-class.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Hebe,

    I’m reposting because every part of this is Finn’s own work, his passion, his action that made it happen.

    That's fantastic, Hebe.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Obvious answer: because most of them aren’t legally allowed to. The law tells them at a crucial time that their political views don’t count. Is it any wonder they react accordingly?

    Voting age is one of those things we need to be challenged on, because while it seems quite natural if you don't think about it, it's actually bloody hard to justify, particularly if you're actually talking to one of the people you'd have to tell you don't think they're responsible enough. "It's an arbitrary line. We have to draw it somewhere. Why not 17? Because... Shut up, that's why."

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Hebe,

    Finn's your boy?? Grats!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I’m talking about us creating an ongoing, long-term situation of pollution damage and resource scarcity, and leaving our kids to deal with the worst of it. This generation, for the first time, has a shorter life-expectancy than their parents.

    I think that's true in some ways, but there's a great many ways in which the world is a better place than it was 25 years ago, when I was a teenager. Whilst older generations may have built the internet, I think X-generation can at least lay a claim to probably having built most of the World Wide Web, and I sure didn't have me one of those back then.

    But I agree that an important part of finding out what teens think about things is to ask teens, and there's not enough of it.

    I'm in a strange situation of being surrounded by teens, but as peers rather than people I have some kind of authority or power over. I'm doing an undergraduate degree. It's quite a strange and surreal experience. They do seem to be quite different to my generation (as I remember them at the same age), but it's hard to be sure.

    One thing I'm pretty sure of, though. They're much more accepting of the inevitability of fees and student debt (they've never known it any other way), and of lower wages and high unemployment when they finish. That's just how it is, it's so long since these decisions were made that they're no longer up for debate, quite aside from the feeling that no-one with power listens to them. Questioning student debt is as pointless as questioning privatized telecommunications.

    It's an experience that has certainly made me far less sure of what it is that I know about te yoof. I agree, however, that the interaction fills me with optimism. There's some hella smart kids. Hella wise, too, in cases. Not to mention waaaaay better dressed than we ever were.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I love the will to challenge the authority that these kids have still got. By the time we get all crusty and tired that will has been beaten down - we know there's no point. They don't.

    They also look at things sideways - they suggest the obvious and then demand to know why we don't do it. One day (not too far away) I suspect this idea of a once in 3 years vote for a group of representatives will go the way of the dinosaur. At that time we may see an obvious way for their voices to contribute.

    And as for those 10s of thousands of boat people Aussie (and NZ) are so scared of ... those people risked their lives to come to another country. They had the will and the courage to make a change in their lives that risked everything (unless you believe in an afterlife). If those people can't contribute to society positively then that's our failure not theirs.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Whilst older generations may have built the internet, I think X-generation can at least lay a claim to probably having built most of the World Wide Web, and I sure didn’t have me one of those back then.

    My 18 year old son hangs out with us and our friends of a Saturday night, and plays board games and drinks gin with us and joins in our conversations. Last weekend we were talking about how, actually, it was our parents who were promised jet-packs, that old joke aside. Our futuristic literature promised us a bleak Cyberpunk dystopia, and boy have we been working on it. We asked Kieran what he'd been promised, and his immediate unconsidered reply was "VR".

    His generation takes utterly for granted the increased connectivity the net brought me and Ben and our lot. That stops being a positive and is just impossible to imagine the lack of. He spends all his nights with his friends - on Skype. What they're having to grapple with is over-connectivity, the invasiveness, the lack of privacy. The permanent record of every dumb thing they've ever said or done. The same thing can look quite different depending on when you came in.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to BenWilson,

    Very wide :-)

    Not to mention waaaaay better dressed than we ever were.

    And better teeth.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington, in reply to Emma Hart,

    What they're having to grapple with is over-connectivity, the invasiveness, the lack of privacy. The permanent record of every dumb thing they've ever said or done.

    Yes indeed. We are on Facebook with our kids and a load of their friends and I just ignore all the party pics every weekend, their trips away together and general fooling around. It makes me sad they don't have the privacy and secret places and situations that we had growing up where we were finally free from the adults in our lives. One of the evil things about Facebook is that you can leave your phone at home and still have dozens of photos of yourself partying spread across multiple pages including your own.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Emma Hart,

    What they're having to grapple with is over-connectivity, the invasiveness, the lack of privacy.

    Absolutely. We haven't really had to deal with that until the last year, and I am so glad that their previous school actively discouraged indiscriminate cellphone use, ipods etc for under-14s. There was a ban on cells at their primary/intermediate school until the quakes, when the ability for instant contact became a blessing. Use of, and appropriate disclosure on, for Facebook etc has become a regular conversation and topic of negotiation in this house.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    I just consider myself incredibly lucky with my 15 & 19 yr old boys. Firstly they're decent young guys who wouldn't hurt a fly, and secondly we've always had shared interests that maintained a relationship. With the older one I had football and music (including doing a radio show together), with the younger one I've got IT.

    If you could magic up one thing out of thin air for your teenagers I would recommend a gay uncle. The perfect antidote to the bullshit lad talk they hear at school and it teaches them early that love comes in all shapes and sizes and it's all prefectly ok.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Heh, prefectly...

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Of my (almost 16) year old daughter, every teacher since she started intermediate has remarked that her year (not just her) is vastly more politically aware than other years, the year above somewhat but her year in particular. So I would suggest whatever was happening in formative education a decade ago was good stuff.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Voting age is one of those things we need to be challenged on, because while it seems quite natural if you don't think about it

    I love explaining to 17 year olds that like the criminally insane, they're not considered fit to cast a vote.

    It still amuses me that we only have one voting age. You can be so decrepit that you're not allowed to drive, live by yourself or even manage your own money, but you're still allowed to vote.

    My arguments for voting are made somewhat easier by Australia's "compulsory" voting, even though it's easy for youf to skip enrolling which makes you most unlikely to be fined. But really, it's not a big effort (they put more work into choosing a cellphone) and it does affect which government we get (although in Oz right now we have two federal oppositions, which is kind of the worst of the available options).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I wish we had the political will to move the voting age down to 12 - could be done gradually.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to David Hood,

    that her year (not just her) is vastly more politically aware than other years

    Of course they are. they have a tool that allows them to read any and all political information. When I grew up it was the newspaper and TV. There was a generation that didn't even have functional newspapers or TV news. Now though, these kids have so much more information.

    It's easy to dismiss them as just looking at Royals youtube videos or tweeting about whichever star's tits are on show this week. But they read more than that, much much more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I wish we had the political will to move the voting age down to 12 - could be done gradually.

    Over several weeks? Or just drop it to 16 and see how that goes before dropping it further? Beware the slippery slope, next you'll be letting dogs vote.

    We've talked before about a competance test, which some people object to on the grounds that it could be abused. My answer is "right now people are 'helped' to fill out a voting paper they can't understand, and some vote multiple times because their helpers don't communicate with each other" (the latter is one of the most common causes of multiple votes in Australia).

    Arguably, the voting test should be more rigorous than the citizenship test. But since for most people that test is "is it alive?", that's not hard. I'd favour a test along the lines of "what system of government does NZ use" ... "democracy". "do you want to vote" ... "yes". "are you legally in NZ"... "yes". "here's a voter registration pack, if you need help filling it out, ask".

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Oooh, no, let's not go anywhere near the idea of "voting tests". A little too reminiscent of the American Jim Crow laws that disqualified many black people from voting for bullshit reasons (people who couldn't read lengthy passages from the bible, when many were substantially illiterate)

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to TracyMac,

    Agreed totally - if you're going to have a democratic process you want as few barriers as possible. While I can see the attraction of the idea of a voting test when you start to consider the implications - you can easily envision some ugly scenarios.

    Where do you draw the line etc. And people will say that's a slippery slope argument but slippery slopes often do occur. Often once people agree to the principle of something then it gets extended and extended - each step being a logical progression of the last.

    First people who have dementia shouldn't be allowed to vote. Then people who have a sub-80 IQ, then people who are mentally unwell (which can then be defined as anyone who doesn't agree with the state). All people who have committed a crime etc. Then all people who don't pay taxes, then people who aren't net tax payers.

    Sure I'm doing a reductio ad absurdum, but again while it's listed as a logical fallacy it can be handy to explore the conclusions of a policy.

    I understand in the US last election some states were already using strict voter-registration laws as an attempt to dis-enfranchise the black population.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    What they’re having to grapple with is over-connectivity, the invasiveness, the lack of privacy. The permanent record of every dumb thing they’ve ever said or done. The same thing can look quite different depending on when you came in.

    How does it look to them? I'm curious if this hyperconnectedness is something people born to it actually complain about.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It's an interesting thought experiment that we could have no voting age whatsoever, nor any other restrictions. If you can mark a ballot, you can vote. It's secret, so parents can't force kids to vote how they say. Buggered up votes are ignored. What would be the real effect? Would they vote along family party lines? Or would small targeted parties come into existence, such as Every Day is Christmas Party? I can see that being tried, but the vote would be split between many such options, if it ever worked at all. Would the child vote just be mostly random?

    Similarly with the criminally insane - given this is a small section of the population, is there really some danger that they're going to install a party of their own? Or even put any pressure on politics other than their own interests, just the way everyone else does?

    Probably this is something that could actually be statistically explored.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to BenWilson,

    It's an interesting thought experiment that we could have no voting age whatsoever, nor any other restrictions.

    I think restricting it to people legally in NZ would be desirable, but otherwise yes, all for it.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

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