Where is the so-called voice of youth? It’s missing.


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2The voice of youth may be a tired phrase, but it’s an important concept. A generation of doormats has no voice. If such a generation now exists, it’s a serious problem.

I refuse to believe that younger people have no opinions. That’s certainly not my experience. Even the “sadly educated” have at least a few ideas of their own.

The current under 20s generation, as seen in media and tedious loudmouthed social media, seems to be a video game addicted collection of aspiring corporate corpses? Is Big Bang Theory or some excruciating bit of “entertainment” all anyone can think of to do with youth? If so, it’s a real insult.

How did that happen? Don’t people take the under 20s seriously? If not, why not? This is the generation which will be fighting the next wars, getting lumbered with a tech economy in which old style careers and jobs will be impossible, and from the look of it, largely broke and struggling to make ends meet.

This is a true future disaster in progress, and the possible answers to those questions are hardly reassuring. “Reasons” for not taking the younger generation seriously may include:

  • They’re broke: Therefore they’re not economically relevant, and have little if any real social clout. Try that on a spreadsheet. Talk about a no chance scenario.
  • They can’t influence an economy and a society they can’t access: True of the chronically poor since the beginning of recorded history, and a great way to effectively discard an entire generation.
  • They have no political muscle: Wrong, but expedient, this view of the younger generation is basically lazy. They will have some sort of political clout, but it’ll be handicapped by the above points, which will also be their main areas of political interest.
  • They’re “dumb”: This very cynical view means that younger people are stuck with the image of how things work. They’re not criminals (yet, no thanks to this thinking) they’re not corrupt, and they take things on trust, like most young people. Therefore they’re idiots? Shaky logic, but look how little is done to inform them. The most communicative generation in history is being fed garbage.
  • They’re sick: This toxic wasteland of an environment makes people sick. Being sick is “wrong”. Therefore the young, if sick, are bad people. Particularly if they miraculously can’t afford treatment. So it’s all their fault.
  • They’re obstructed by employment factors: Since some collection of morons decided people should work all the way to the grave, promotions and opportunities have been reduced for younger people. That’s their fault, too.
  • They’re media-dependent: Another very wrong view. That’s what they said about the 60s generation, and look what happened. That generation made its own culture, because the mainstream culture was too insane. The modern generation ARE at a disadvantage, stuck with crap in incredible amounts, but it IS crap. You can’t live on crap forever.

If this collection of “reasons” is making you puke, imagine how living it feels. If there is a “voice of youth” muttering around under all this filth, it must be doing a lot of swearing.

What “voice of youth”?

So what would you call a “voice of youth”? Instagram? Selfies to the point of death? Facebook, with its paid collection of psycho trolls? Rap? Rock? Idiotic movies full of people shooting each other? Some youth culture you’ve got there, Grandma.

Instagram is a brief attention span, low value, visual thing. Facebook is a social medium for older people. Twitter is X characters of spleen or wit, depending on your perspective.

Wanderlaugh, Paul Wallis books, Amazon

My books are set in the England of the immortals, not some dreary little off license. Wonder why? No.

Rap and rock are both over 40 years old. “Youth” has nothing to do with it, particularly when rap and rock are both obsessing over irrelevances. Nobody gives a damn about some gangsta or hairstyle whining about everything. Whining is easy; it’s getting somewhere that’s difficult. That culture is dead and it goes nowhere anyway. It’s also avoidable, and to their credit, most younger people can take it or leave it, and they do.

The fact is that there is no place for a voice of youth. This is a middle class morgue of values, imposed on youth. If the poor bastards are glued to their phones, it’s because they have very few other places to go.

The pity of it is that this generation is quite articulate, when it gets a chance, which is almost never. Even allowing for the day care version of the arts we have now, they can be very interesting, if able to get a word in.

The voice of youth is getting drowned out by the senile babblings of a society from the past. Geriatric politics, corporate wanking, you name it, it has more coverage and more space than it deserves, at the expense of youth. That’s a damn high cost.

The environment and the voice of youth, sort of

One area where the younger generation is getting somewhere, with some natural justification, is the environment. Kids usually react to any environment in which they grow up as “normal”. This hellhole of a planet, however, as it now is, (it really wasn’t) is getting plenty of attention. They’re not treating it as normal, but something to be fixed, which is quite right.

That, of course, instantly conflicts with the established apathy and stupidity of these times. It’s a very good sign that younger people are involved with the environment, and not just because of the environment. The conflict will  also help to spell out other conflicts, like careers, money, jobs, and the rest of the dysfunctional, hopelessly incompetent mess this generation is entering. To fight this is to fight the war that needs fighting, against the dehumanization of humanity. The option is to win. Should work, too, given the ineptitude of this society, which can never defend against the new and fun.

Inventing a voice of youth

If you were to invent a new voice of youth, it would have to be well outside the shabby, boring, predictable, cardboard box which modern media provides. It would have to be crowd-social-accessible-acceptable, without the ancient garbage. It would also have to be sourced entirely from younger people, even if some older people would like to help. (If you’re older, be helpful but peripheral; youth is sacred, not to be intruded upon.)

One thing this generation has proven is that it’s quite happy to leave the garbage behind. Finding points of access seems to be a strong suit for a generation living in a barely functional museum, and it may well find the voice and the way out for the voiceless.



Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books