There’s a new EDM movie out called XOXO and it is only on Netflix. It is about a lifestyle concept known in rave circles as PLUR and this is something your teenage children will not have to ‘ask Google’. If you haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, you are not alone. Our teenagers are growing up in a world where their influences and interests remain largely hidden. Youth culture in 2016 is not ‘in your face’ in a way that it was in the 1990s.
Back then we watched as Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain came onto the scene with a new genre of grunge music that was not only politically active but also brought in a new, deconstructed fashion wave that saw the catwalks layering and mis-matching in a way that shocked the established fashionistas that had gone before; the slick, glossy looks that showed how well put together the wearer was. Grunge showed the opposite. Here is a shot from the Perry Ellis Spring 1993 show called ‘The Grunge Collection’. I was a fashion student at the time and remember how shocking it was that we had rips and un-hemmed edges on the catwalk! This was when street style became mainstream.
The 1980s gave us Skinheads and New Romantics. The 1970s were about Glam Rockers and Punks. The 60s had the Mods and Rockers. Every generation has had their own youth subculture that wider society has known about and debated on and criticised in some parts – until now. This is probably the most worrying aspect of it all – because youths will inevitably find a way to identify with themselves and their peers and to be part of something, but in the teenage noughties – this first generation of digital natives are doing it away from sight – no-one knows what they are into, and we don’t even know that we don’t know because it is not in our face, being written about or being broadcast on the TV. Our traditional (i.e: historic) means of learning about the world- mainstream TV channels, radio, newspapers and magazines are still there but now so are the blogs, the YouTube channels and the social media. The celebrities we talk about are not just the Bruce Forsyth and Terry Wogan’s on the telly whom everyone knows (or did in the 1980s) – kids today are talking about YouTube’s Matthias, Geordie Shore’s Scotty T and Miranda Sings.
A couple of months ago we took our tweenage son to meet his hero DanTDM. (In case you are not familiar with the term tweenage – it refers to the period that used to be known as pre-teen and means kids aged 9-12 years). He was in awe – he and the other kids there queued for hours to literally get a photo and autograph with this dude. The way Katie Price and Peter Andre in their ‘happy marriage’ days could have generated a line around the block and stopped traffic for a book signing, this is the kind of celebrity that DanTDM has now, but when I posted the image below on Instagram, many of my peers and family didn’t have a clue who he was or what he was famous for.
This is our youth culture. This is what kids today are into, and no-one knows about it.
On one hand this is a relief. When social media exploded, as parents we all worried about how visible our kids lives were and how we could make our own teenage mistakes back in the days when no-one had a camera in your face. We worried that our children’s ill judged antics may one day haunt them forever when all a future employer needs to do is to ‘Google’ their name. But our kids are savvier than that. They are learning to adapt and survive. This digital world they were born into doesn’t scare them in the same way it does us.
On the other hand it means that we don’t have any control or clue about what our kids are up to. All we can do as parents is to keep the lines of communication open and create an environment at home where the kids do feel comfortable in sharing or talking to you. This is so important. Don’t ever shut them down, because when someone gets shut down enough times they stop trying to share, then you can’t get that back. Remember this saying?
“Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
― Catherine M. Wallace
As a parent today you have to let go a little and trust that you instilled enough values and common sense into your children so they can figure it out on their own – but know that you have their back if they need you. I tell my children regularly. “I love you”, “you are a very smart, capable young lady / young man”, “I will always be in your corner”. I pray that this certainty that they have that no matter what happens in life – they have a solid foundation underneath their feet, will keep them from harm. I hope so. But I am also careful to not coddle them too much. To develop a self reliance and grit you need to feel the rough. Nothing great comes from comfort zones. A bit of discomfort is character building.
This morning when we opened our curtains to see the snow on the ground, my daughter asked if I could drive her to school where she usually walks. I said “No”. A bit of cold and ice on the road shouldn’t change our morning routine. We have to get on with it. I heard how she listed the names of her friends who would get a lift in because of the snow, and I still said “No”. She’s not thanking me much today as she walks into school feeling the cold (but she is wearing her lovely warm coat with a furry hood!) but she will thank me later when she doesn’t let a bit of anything unexpected get in her way. Actually she won’t actually say ‘thank you’ and I don’t expect her to. But I will get my thanks when I watch my young woman create the life she wants in the world, ploughing through her obstacles, rather than retreating to comfort.
I called this post Generation MO as it stands for Generation ‘Missing out’. You’ve heard of FOMO (fear of missing out) and the YOLO (you only live once) the expressions of today’s youth, so I created my own little expression – Generation MO. The people in Generation MO are us. Missing out as their culture and interests are not in our face. The only way not to miss out is to be aware. Find out what your kids are into and take an interest. I have a confession – I cannot stand Miranda Sings. I think she is a bloody idiot. But my teenager loves her. Miranda Sings however is not supposed to appeal to me. At 42 I’m way too old to get it. (Even though I don’t think I’m old at all!) But for this particular ‘celebrity’, I am. So even though I cannot stand this character, I take an interest because my daughter takes an interest.
So in the spirit of taking an interest, let me explain my first paragraph to you – this teen speak is easy when you know how! The new movie XOXO is on Netflix now and here is a trailer:
The abbreviation PLUR stands for ‘peace, love, unity, respect / responsibility’.
Oh, and an EDM movie stands for ‘electronic dance music’ movie. XOXO was new in 2016, in 2015 the big EDM movie was ‘We Are Your Friends‘ starring Zac Efron. There are others of course but parents of teens and tweens will probably be familiar with Zac Efron from his Disney High School Musical days.
Just be aware and make sure you talk. Your kids will eventually spill the beans if you are there to listen. The culture of our kids is invisible to anyone over the age of 20 – and this is just the way they like it.