The Coming In The 21st Century
What does it mean to come of age in the 21st century? To me, the first thing that comes to mind is the internet. This day and age most kids, in America, are exposed to an endless amount of information through the internet. But does this create an information overload and what do we expect people to do with this abyss of fact and opinion? How will the sifting of useless information be done so as to make room for worthwhile information and how will kids properly judge what is useless and what is worthwhile?
It use to be the case that school was where we were taught life skills and given direction, but now most of the larger schools have metal detectors, armed guards, and oversized classrooms, in many cases, amounting to nothing more than a storage facility for bodies, while parents go off to earn money. But when the ability to learn fast and efficiently takes precedence in the world job market, how are we benefitting those coming of age in the 21st century by placing them in stasis for at least 8 hours a day? Or worse than that, shoving them into an environment where they feel intimidated, are physically bullied, or a slew of other youthful, societal norms, which are damaging and non productive.
I remember when summers felt like 10 years long and the grass was always greener. If I happened to get in a fight, more than likely, a week later that person and I would end up best friends, unlike today’s altercations that lead to shootouts or suicide. Time seemed to melt by, rather than fly. I ask my kids what time seems like to them and they see it flying by, as I now do (older and somewhat more mature). So, is coming of age in the 21st century a race for knowledge and power by any means necessary, and the cost is watching life flash by? For some yes, but not for all. Just go to an Amish community and you can see that there are some who still seek a simpler, more self-reliant way of life. And the funny thing is that as societies crumble, the self-reliance of the Amish may be what allows them to persevere through these changing times.
As a society, we seem to be teetering between idleness and self-destruction. Living in the past isn’t the answer, but lessons can be learned. As technology has advanced in leaps and bounds maybe cultural practices need to be pushed to catch up. If only it were like the Matrix and you could just jack into the system and learn what you need to learn in about 5 seconds. Of course, such is not the case, and will not be the case for some time to come, but when it is watch out, shedding these outdated cultural chains that hold us back will propel us into a productive future beyond current imagination.
So to those coming of age in the 21st century I say to you learn fast, learn efficiently, try your best to stay out of trouble, and in the words of Kenny Rogers “know when to hold em’ and know when to fold em”… meaning be smart and know when you are in a situation where it is best to bail, and bail quickly. Be smart, be kind, be helpful, and embrace change.