There is no doubt that we are living in an age of information. Anyone can receive any information they wish at any time at the click of a mouse or even via a voice question on a smart phone. Sounds great…right? I am starting to see why this is not so great.
First I have to apologize for I am not going to be able to be 100% forthright in my thoughts here in order to protect someone’s privacy, but I will do my best to explain why I am starting to see that the age of information may be doing more harm than good. While this may be true for both adults and children, I am going to focus on children.
When I was a kid, I don’t remember ever feeling like I had to label myself in any way whatsoever. I was simply a kid running about with my friends and enjoying life. Sure I know some kids had identities with various groups (i.e. Let’s say jocks vs hoods), but over all, we were just all kids having a good time. We faced peer pressure from other kids in our environment, but it seemed relatively easy to withdrawal if need be so that those pressures could be dealt with or even avoided.
We weren’t inunindated with so much information from the media (such as tv, news media, social websites). We didn’t have constant contact with people like we do now. Withdrawing to your bedroom to be alone didn’t mean you were alone on Facebook with thousands of your closest (sarcasm) friends and instant messaging. You may have had a magazine or two with new ideas or human interest stories to contemplate, but it wasn’t to a computer with endless news stories of celebrities making sex tapes or having sex changes. No, it meant you were truly alone…or maybe on the phone with one person.
Fast forward a few decades, and now there is constant contact. With that contact, information is thrown at kids from every facet of media you can think of. As if being a kid with hormones throwing your emotions out of whack isn’t enough, now they are constantly being bombarded with ideas that were once unthought of to kids but have now become mainstream news stories. For example, gender identity. Ok, so yes there have always been kids who struggled with their gender. Many girls went through tomboy stages and still ended up being girls in the end. Many girls or boys eventually found that they were gay, and they evolved in their sexual preferences as adults; when they were better able to deal with those changes. But in today’s information society, it seems kids can no longer work these issues out over time and serious contemplation. As the idea of being transgender has become more and more mainstream, now kids feel the need to pick their identity early. Perhaps too early. At a time when their hormones are out of control, emotions are out of whack and they are still trying to adjust to natural changes, they seem to feel that they must strongly identify one way or another before their body has even completed the natural process of deciding for them. A time when being transgender has become mainstream. If a child’s body hasn’t fully received the amount of hormones it will ultimately receive, this may leave him or her confused about who they are. Enter the dangers of media, and thoughts grow into doubts or become questions of gender identity.
Now forgive me if you are reading this and are gay or transgender, but at such a young age (while there are a few exceptions) not every child is ready to make such strong life decisions such as taking hormones to change what nature hasn’t even completed yet. If a 30 year old can regret a tattoo received at 18, isn’t that proof enough that we don’t always know what we truly want when we are young? Sure we think we do, but then time shows us who we really are. I think over centuries we (people) should have learned by now that time and experience are the best teachers in life, not endless streams of media telling us what we should believe. After all, we are starting to learn relying on sites such as WebMd may not always be the best source of health information, as it can easily make your common cold look like you’re going to die. So too the media is twisting the minds of our young into making them feel they have life or death decisions to make, when in reality they may just need a dose of downtime and a little less information.
After I wrote this blog, I came across an article worth reading. You should check it out here.