Friday, October 15, 2010

in defense of teens

I'm extremely fired up right now.

In my graduate school online class, we're having a discussion about the purpose of libraries, and a bunch of people got on the topic of teens in the library.

It's the same argument over and over -- teens hog the computers and only use them for Facebook, they talk and laugh when other patrons might be trying to get work done, they come in groups and crowd up the library, run around, cause disruptions -- plus some new ones ("Can someone tell me why libraries are offering gaming as an activity? Don't they get enough of that at home?").  

First of all, I don't even know how to respond to that comment about gaming. As someone who grew up playing video games, I totally view them as valid source of information as well as entertainment. To me, it's like someone asking, "Can someone tell me why my local library holds a Family Movie Night every month? Don't you get enough of that at home?"

But my overall point is: Why does everyone always pick on the teens? Why do people hate having them around so much? I will admit that I get annoyed at the teens who come to my library sometimes, especially when they blatantly disregard rules like "you can't have food up here" or "please don't move the furniture" -- but guess what? They're teenagers. They're hard-wired to be caught up in themselves, to not fully comprehend the volume of their voices, to be more concerned about whether Madison really hooked up with Nathan than with whether they're disrupting people. I'm going to blow your mind right now: it's not their faults. They can't help themselves. In my experiences, all you have to do is shoot them a look and ask them directly to keep their voices down, and they listen. They might not stay quiet, and you might have to ask them more than once, but they will listen.

I know I have a unique perspective because I want to be a Teen Librarian and I consider myself an advocate for teens and tweens, but honestly. People want to martyr teens when something happens like the completely pointless and tragic losses of 3 teens due to homophobic bullying, but as soon as a couple of teens come into your library you want to kick them all out because they're not "using the library for its intended purpose" (actual quote from someone in my class).

I think what people forget is that we were all teens once, and we were all hard-wired to be self-centered, to not consider others before ourselves. That's something you can't learn until you aren't a teen, until the cocktail of hormones causing you to do things like screech and run towards their friends when you see them, to talk just a little too loud, to be somehow both self-conscious and attention-seeking at the same time, subsides.

Be nice to teens. Because they're going to grow up and be the world one day. I know it sounds trite, but it's true. You don't have to dedicate your life to them or anything, but being a little more forgiving of them? It's a great start.

And now I will get off of my soapbox.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, teens get a bad rap often and it's too bad. Well young people in general get a bad rap, even those into their 20's and as a 20 something I find that irritating. I'm not SO young anymore, but I look young so I might as well be. People assume you're stupid or disrespectful. I do feel there are teens that are annoying and have bad attitudes, but as is the case with EVERYTHING in life, it's a case of a small minority giving the majority a bad rap. Most teens are just fine, but the few that aren't make them look bad and it's too bad