Opinion: Our Generation

By Emilia Barth

When I was 9 or so, I liked to talk about our society. By society I mean kids are blocked off from the world. When you try to talk about something serious, they don’t want to hear it, there is no discussion and the topic changes immediately. In 10th period I remember hearing, “Did you break up?” or “Do you still love him?” Sexual expressions are common. I remember having a simple, nice conversation with a boy when another kid made an inappropriate “sexual gesture.” I was very uncomfortable until a teacher walked in. I don’t think teachers are aware, maybe only a little snippet. I was embarrassed but could not admit it.

I asked my grandmother, “Was it like this when you were in middle school?” She told me it wasn’t like that. “Did you guys date in middle school?” I asked. “No,” she said. “We had crushes but kept them pretty secret. It was safer and sweeter.”

I wonder what’s happened? I am worried. I notice all around me people are communicating more with their smartphones and not with their voices and not with their hearts. Am I the only one who notices what is going on? Texting does not involve emotion or talking face to face. It’s just a screen, easy to misinterpret. It’s easier to type on a phone than to actually talk to the person. This is where cyberbullying comes in. It is so simple to type something hurtful or angry because no one is actually there. There is no emotion involved except words.

Words can so easily hurt. The people who are typing might seem all tough on the Internet but are very different if you meet them in person. One little click of the send button can cause extreme regret for yourself and others.

Mothers and fathers seem to be overprotective. The reason we have activists like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson, Anne Frank, etc. is because they were aware of what was going on in the world, the injustice, poverty, racism. I wish there were more discussions about poverty and injustice at my school. Instead of a “pledge” to stop cyberbullying and a not-so-good movie, why can’t there be some real, live discussions between the students and teachers?

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  ~ Nelson Mandela

Emilia is a sixth-grader at Haldane Middle School.

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Our Generation

  1. Amelia, you are a very perceptive young woman with some good suggestions. I agree with your observations, as I have found that effective communication depends on our ability to read body language while we are interacting during conversation.

    Monica Lewinsky recently gave a TED talk titled “The Price of Shame.” In it, she encourages us to be “Upstanders” instead of “bystanders”, by communicating with empathy and compassion, rather than an attempt to humiliate or “one-up” someone. I think you will be a role model who can help find solutions to this generational issue we older folks never had to deal with.

    I salute your courage for addressing this topic in a public forum.

  2. Emilia, you’ve restored my faith in the upcoming generation. I’m sure there are many more like you out there; we just don’t hear enough about you. Congratulations on being genuine and level-headed. Stick with your ideals and your beliefs, they will truly get you far.