"I am so pale"
"Oh my god me too. I would love to pick this hot pink, but I am like so pale."
"We HAVE to go to the beach. Like now"
"Ahhhhh such a good idea!. Lets go to Boca Grande, like next weekend"
"Hell yeah. We are so going."
"Does this red make me look slutty?"
Scenes from a South Tampa nail shop one Friday afternoon in January. Scenes between two high school aged chickies. No older than 18, with no perception of the world. Really. None. Boca Grande? Tanning does not mean a three hour trip to an expensive island get away. Not at 17 and not on a whim. And not just so the barbie pink Essie nail polish will look better on your toes.
I sit and think if I was ever that bad. If I ever came across to strangers in such a way. I understand my lot and position and how I can be perceived. I know what it is like to be in a group with girlfriends, loud and unaware of people listening in. It can get out of hand and it can look, well, like a snotty mess. I am aware of that possibility and aware of what is going on. This seemed different as it smacked of indifference. A lack of understanding or appreciation of what was going on around them.
I have to think that in a Sweet Sixteen Laguna Beach world this type of open display of vapid wealth has been deemed acceptable. They see the shows and think that it is the norm. With little understanding how ridiculous they sound. How overly grown and yet totally unsophisticated they come across. But with disposable wealth at their newly painted finger tips. That when we watch the train wreck that are those shows, we laugh and point and shake our heads. Wondering how much is played up for the TV. How much is edited and prompted by the producers. And who really has parents that are willing to drown their kids in spoils, without realizing the repercussions of their actions. But I fear that when that generation, because yes this is a different generation, views these shows they look at it as examples. Of how they can and should behave. And that it is okay for their parents to provide them with every amenity. That there is no perception of reality, aside from what is splayed on MTV and a determination is made that this is what they want as well. With no grasp of the absurd nature. That instead of an understanding that these shows are ironic and are meant to point out just how ridiculous these kids actions are, the exact demographic embraces the life. They mimic it to the best they can and then display it openly as if proud that they resemble the spoileds of Orange County. Not fully realizing how they look or what message they are sending. Or what life is really like for these kids. No perception.
With no boundaries and endless wealth at 16, things are lost. And those things are ideals, morals, and values. Those come with boundaries, lessons, and earning things. We are taught by our parents and by looking to our peers. We learn lessons from their examples and the tough way, through failure. These roads are important to gauge yourself and learn trust. To experience, cry, pick yourself up and become stronger. Perspective is key to seeing all that and understanding the privilege as well as the struggle. But with the world in your Gucci wallet, it no longer matters what the rest of society deals with. It is not about learning lessons the hard way, because that has been paid for and bought. You can see only as far as the next manicure or tanning session. And as teenagers we are all short sighted and self absorbed. This is not going to change. But when the habit is fed with a bottomless pit of green, it knows no limits and can't possibly be learned. They are not going to recognize or see that this is not how the world functions. They are indifferent. There is no one and nothing to stop it and give them a reality check. Especially when reality TV shows that this is what is the norm. And that upsets me. Which is big coming from somone with a love for pink toes, tanned legs and MTV.
This is an excellent post. Parents think they are giving their children everything, but like you wrote, the children are actually missing out on the most important things. If you have everything at 16, what do you hope for? What do you work toward? I wonder if the drug problems in affluent circles are in part a result of the desire to experience the next thing--since they are missing out on things like saving to take a trip or working to afford a car, etc. They don't know what accomplishments like that feel like.
You are so right. They have such a skewed reality of what's real and even what's important, it worries me how they'll approach the world. I can only hope some of them will have to go into an environment where they have to work for what they want and have a boss that won't put up with the BS.
I totally agree with you.
And this is from someone who also loves bright pink toes, Laguna Beach, The Hills, etc.
This is why I love you guys. Always have good insight.
Ally: precisely. There is nothing left to want or work for. As a 27 year old, I can say I earned the money to pay for the manicure. Beyond that though, there is that quick fix of looking for the next thrill because overall there is an empty feeling. Because really life is not about manicures and tanning.
JR: totally good call. Having *that* boss can give you a reality check so fast it will make your head spin.
Brookem: I just worry if my enjoyment of these shows has caused a problem. But really that is not my problem, but MTV's
You are right. All these shows about empowered teenagers don't help. Even on old 90210 the "good kids" were the ones with parents. We rarely saw the parents of the really RICH kids excpet to know they were into their own badly behaved scandles. All of these empowered teenagers on TV are NUTS!! And not the middle-ish America I had fun growning up in.
I thought I was denied everything as a kid. In retrospect...I had everything I needed and lots I wanted and really it was pretty good.
No one wants to hurt their little feelings. What happens when they get a real job and have to pay the bills.
Life is pain anyone who says otherwise is selling something. But it can be very good too.
Oh yeah, absolutely. The Paris Hiltonism of so many teens is very, very sad.
Its a rough wake up once Mommy and Daddy stop paying for things...that is if the ATM of Mommy and Daddy ever closes. Teenagers do have a very odd "reality" based on the media and kids miss alot as they grow up too fast. Ten year olds with cell phones and 15 year olds dressed like they're 25. All sorts of wrong...
I couldn't agree with you more! It's gonna be a big wake up call one day when they don't have mommy and daddy around to bail them out.
Awhile back, some girl in town got her mom to throw her one of the MTV Sweet 16 parties (except that she was turning 15). Total insanity.
I think the 9th comment is usually the most insightful.
EB, you are quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. I'm so on board with all of this and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. First of all, I'm really dismayed at what our culture is becoming. That's another matter entirely, but ally is right - if you get everything handed to you there's nothing to look forward to. And if they're permitted to act indignantly and foolishly by their parents, I really feel sorry for them when they get to college and fail because nobody feels any motivation to take any of their shit anymore. Their parents are hurting them in more ways than the obvious. Without a job you have no sense of balancing school and grades, finances, the list goes on. I really feel badly for these kids but mostly they just annoy me and I want to kick them in the shin.
It is unreal really what goes on in some cases. In this situation too much is not a good thing.
There is no understanding that this behavior and attitude are so dangerous too. And that is what is scary.