Have we gone too far with the term “Teenager” and all that it allows?
How many times is ‘teenagers’ uttered accompanied by a tut for punctuation and a rolling of the eyes for emphasis? I have recently joined this throng of tutters and rollers; the tut ‘n’ roll being a less cool version of rock’n’roll, a movement which, incidentally, coincided with the mass development of ‘The Teenager’.
So what is it that makes a teenager? Aside from the age limits of the teen numbers I have identified the following key characteristics; a bad attitude, lack of energy or enthusiasm for anything, a perfected “fuck you” stare and a level of incomprehension of the world that astounds me.
At this point it is necessary to clarify two things. One, that I obviously don’t speak of all teenagers here and my massive generalisation is fueled by an anger at a massively annoying minority. If I had read this as a teenager I probably would have been furious in fact, yes, I can see myself storming into my room in a rage right now … The second item on the clarification agenda is this: yes I do realise that much of the behaviour displayed by the average teenager is powered by rioting oestrogen and testosterone gone crazy. But are bodily changes just becoming a huge cover up?
My current place of work involves being around swarms of 14-18 year olds everyday, most of whom I would have no qualms about comparing to animals. I find it challenging to understand why a supposedly mentally sound 18-year-old finds it amusing to hold a lighter against someone’s leg, nor how such a person can be legally termed an adult. Now I’m beginning to sound like I’m advocating the removal of rights from teenagers, I’m not (although the thought of chaining some of them to their desks does make one’s mind wander … )
I’m joking, of course. I was a teenager not so many moons ago, I remember the torment. What I don’t remember is ever being that horrible, but perhaps it’s something erased from every adult’s mind as they gradually make their way towards debt and divorce.
If teenagers, however, in their association with adolescence and its association by definition with growing into adulthood are meant to be growing into maturity, I think I’m missing a trick.
As Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke adeptly showed us with Kevin and Perry Go Large the term ‘teenager’ generally seems to be a get out of jail free card for moping around, messing around and generally pissing off as many people as possible. Was introducing the word, in fact, society’s biggest mistake?
Probably not, everybody needs to the space to grow and have a bit of fun before the responsibility kicks in. But it’s nice to wonder what life would be like if we still had courting instead of making out in the park after downing a bottle of cider. Nice to dream that the world of Sense and Sensibility still exists before the little buggers come dawdling back from break, throwing their litter on the ground five feet away from the bin.