Growing Pains: Changing face of youth in India
These days, we read frequently about bad things happened to good people due to the careless use, and abuse of the Internet, and the social media. The advent of the Internet created a whole new medium that spreads information that is credible, credulous, worthy, and wicked at the same time on a real time basis. The new technology has opened up new frontiers for many major players like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and others. However, shadowy players namely privacy predators, scammers, spammers, security hackers, crooks, and cheats also opened up shop on the Internet in a major way enticing us with their absurdities, and fake promises.
Of course, the Internet is a veritable cornucopia of news, knowledge, and information along with outrageous lies, fake news and illegitimate/pretend facts, and made-to-believe stories. Thus, it is analogous to an unfathomable ocean packed with a collage of creatures: from gentle manatees, dolphins, and sea turtles to giant predatory killer whales, deadly sea snakes, box jellyfish, tiger sharks, and stingrays. It is easy to fall prey to the dangers that lurk in the murky depths and labyrinths of the Internet. Again, anonymous nature of the Net facilitates a thriving underworld.
Like everywhere else, the Internet is taking Indian youths through a fast track into adulthood. They are learning good, bad and the ugly from the new media. They are maturing fast in many ways: attitude, interaction, world-wise knowledge, and cultural indulgence, all the while discounting their own cultural background. They are into FB, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Blue Whale, other addictive games, and porn sites. They are trolling like no tomorrow in search of knowledge, ideas, and self-gratification. They think the newfound freedom of expression give them a laissez-faire, out of the box, platform for anything and everything with no restrictions at all. They think they can set rules, and make decisions in the privacy of their bedrooms, and fooling the probing eyes of their parents.
Thus, the new media is changing the Indian youth rapidly, some for the better and some for the worse. They take ‘sharing' literally and share personal and private information on the Internet without realising the consequences. Once forbidden or unavailable things are freely available to them via the Internet and social media, thus they are maturing at a faster pace. As the society moves towards an unrestricted world of information, the current generation is learning and exploring certain new norms that were previously unknown to their parents.
I remember seeing an outtake of a reality show in which participants were screaming obscenities and fist fighting due to some impromptu conflict. Throughout the melee, they were shouting, and screaming a barrage of profane words and cusses in English. What bothered me were the vile interactions, aggressiveness, and the language. I do not agree with the assumption that in order to express realism, emotions, or inject drama into a situation one has to have the conversation littered with inconsiderate and uncouth or profane words.
Once uncommon words are in the everyday lexicon these days and often appear casually and callously. These days, youngsters are exposed to dialogues and situations with profane words on TV, radio, the Internet, and via other social media resources. Movies, music, and print media are part of the problem too. Inappropriate language, sexual contents, subtle to explicit, in movies, serials, and talk shows are constantly exposing youngsters thereby building a desensitised generation.
Thus far, a dormant, semi-isolated society is on the cusp of adopting new attributes from cultures all over. Today’s youngsters are the products of a somewhat lavish, modern, and technologically adept society. The move towards globalisation has presented them with opportunities, and lifestyles - good, bad, ugly, and everything in between - that they are able to mimic and afford with open arms. As they live with fewer strings attached, when compared to their parents who were in fact burdened with family responsibilities, and moral sentiments, they opt for the newfound carte blanche lifestyle. They have no worries about the unknowns and the 'live it up' mentality is opposite to what their parents stood for. Thus, their infatuation of the pop-culture is part of the price we pay for progress.
However, there is no doubt that the new generation is smarter, bolder, globally oriented, and more assertive. I see them, tech-savvy youngsters, on a regular basis. They come with engineering, IT, and MBA degrees and some with double masters and a handful of diplomas and technical certifications. They are not naive, or skittish and have no misgivings in competing head-to-head with others from anywhere in the world. Once a small village is no longer an island it is an integral part of an interconnected world. Good and bad can be the outcome of those interactions. As the society evolves, changes happen to the fabric of the society that alters its core values.
Every generation has its quirks and transgressions as the society opens up to external influences. However, sometimes changes may not be as welcome or palatable as they mix unknowns into a thus far docile society. Today’s Indian youth is no exception as they mature in a faster pace due to aggressive advancements technology, high-end education, and exposure to a globalised environment. Their quest to compete in the world marketplace is also accelerating the change process. They may be off the track a bit in respect to our distinct cultural identity but they should not get the blame for all the struggles of the society.
The new generation with their brand-new freedom, educational opportunities, and materialistic quest, are experiencing some uncharted waters. They have to experience the nuances to fine-tune their attributes before they settle down. Hopefully, one day, this learning process will make them cognizant of their great culture and respect the values regardless of the pressures to adopt or mimic another lifestyle, and virtues. However, I am glad that the changing face of India is represented by a more skilful, intelligent, and sophisticated young generation.
(The author, a technology professional, resides in Toronto, Canada with his family)