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Teens Don’t Control Each Other!

Written by Katrina Moncure Mar 06, 2011

A couple months ago, I was explaining the Mosquito device to someone, about how we had the Gallery Place one taken down and why. But he didn’t seem sold on the idea of, you know, allowing teens to assemble freely in public, citing the recent case where a group of teens created a rowdy flash mob in a Wisconsin mall. His reasoning was that because teens keep doing nasty stuff like that, they shouldn’t be allowed to gather.

Oh, we’ve heard this before. I mean, just look at the constant cases of stores setting limits to how many teens may be inside at a time. Their reasoning is almost always that unattended teens will shoplift. And often people defending this, as well as curfews and the drinking age and whatnot, all policies in place to prevent teens from improper behavior, ranging from behavior that is merely discomforting to adult sensibilities to that which truly is harmful and illegal (and it does not help things that these two get so muddled in people’s minds!), will say that if teens want these rules lifted, then they’d better stop binge drinking or robbing old ladies after dark, or at least tell other teens to stop doing these things.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The VAST majority of teens do NOT shoplift or binge drink or get in fights in malls. There are a few who do, sure. There are bad apples all the time. But the thing about bad apples is that, well, I buy apples at the store now and then, and they do spoil after a while, but I still go buy more apples at a later date. Just because a couple of apples were bad, doesn’t mean all apples in existence should now be assumed to be bad just because they are also apples!

But there’s another interesting underlying belief in the “well, when you stupid teens stop doing X, maybe then you’ll have the right to do Y”. You see, I don’t know about the rest of you, and it has been quite some years now since I was a teen, but back then I don’t recall ever having the ability to control what other teens do. I could and can control only what I do. Each individual other teen in the world is the same on that, in that they can control only themselves. Teens don’t have some special telepathy connected to one another, that a teen who wants rights need only alert the other teens to stop engaging in a particular anti-social behavior that bothers adults. No, I think teens are individual people just like adults are and having no control over what others their age do, and don’t need people to restrict and stereotype them and assume they know everything there is to know about them because of when they were born.

This mindset is hardly restricted to ageism, of course, as you’ll find similar remarks about pretty much any marginalized group. It doesn’t make sense, but making sense is not even the goal. The goal is to silence and hide from sight people that someone deems unworthy. Ageists don’t want to think of teens as individual people who want to do what’s right and just go about their lives without ridiculous restrictions. Ageists prefer to group all teens together and assume they’re all the same and behave as negative stereotypes of themselves, because only then can they comfort themselves in that they hold no prejudicial views, they just believe the Truth and they can’t be faulted for that, right? *smirk*

Maybe if an ageist doesn’t like me calling them out for their anti-youth bigotry, they’ll tell each other to quit hating on teens… Wait a minute! No, not even ageists have the telepathic link to one another that it is believed teens do. Even ageists are all individuals who reached their ageist conclusions in different ways based on their own millions of unique backgrounds. Though I’m sure some of us would find it nice to believe otherwise. Would make our job so much easier! But it simply is not the case.

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