Been wondering about how we encourage development and model ways to support. Particularly in community with young people. Youthwork at a basic reckoning is about being community with young people and providing support and room for development.
Tonight i picked this article off of twitter. In it Fuller coins a lovely phrase of humans using computers to “extend and amplify ourselves.” how we engage with machines rather then in direct contact. (when’s the last time i went into my bank branch?)
Today I was chatting with a small group of children after church. One of the children told the story of walking in on someone doing the toilet in the school toilets. I joked that meant they had now to be friends. The rule is once you have seen someone on the toilet, you have to be their friend forever.
The girl asked what if she didn’t like them. I replies thats fine, just become their friend on facebook, then you never have to talk to them again. At the core of my comment is the artificiality within relationship and the ability to amplify ourselves which Prof Fuller is talking about.
For young people adolescence is a time for profound disconnecteness. it is a time where this ability to extend and amplify yourself is key to survival.
Walking down the streets with their ears blocked up with earphones, listening to their music, gives a sign that they are ‘disconnected’ from the unbearable social, political, and religious complexities that we adults have created. In a certain sense, they drop their gaze so as to exclude themselves because we have excluded them with our corruption and inconsistency, with uncertainty, unemployment, and marginalization. We parents, teachers, and priests, the ruling class, we must examine our conscience. The ‘diversity’ of youth, which in fact is not only negative, contains surprising seeds of fruitfulness and authenticity. We need only think of the choice to volunteer made by many young persons or their passion for music, sports, and friendship, which is their ways of telling us that man does not live by bread alone. We need only think of their spirituality, which is so original in its sincerity, or their freedom, which is hidden under a blanket of seeming indifference.
I like this analyisis from the cardinal. It is bleak and yet hopeful. it does seem to do alot of them and us with young people though. He almost implys being young isn’t of equal merit. perhaps i am being a bit harsh there.
I was speaking to a 14 year old boy about computer games. When the conversation got onto the subject he went from quite withdrawn, to being animated. He told me how he felt different in the game. in control. able to make a difference. safe to fail. able to care widely fo those in his team or those in the game he was to protect. I wondered where in real life he would get these opportunities. I wondered if in a world of artificiality being good at artificiality in the from of games was something to be commended highly.
I wonder where I extend and amplify artificially. I wonder where I lose direct contact with other humans. I wonder if I struggle with this, how can I support and help a young person with their development, yet avoiding the negatives i live out.
My favourite film of this youth experience is “Napolean Dynamite”. Through it you see Napolean live with the weridness of being young. At the end of the film (spoiler alert!) he comes through and rescues the day for his friend Pedro. The scene has a real edge of awkwardness to it. The music stops, he sheepishly stops, A silence fills the senses, and Napolean runs. Having put himself out there the immediate response is silence.
Hopefully I can do better than that. The young people i work with deserve better than that. Anyway off to update my facebook and write some e-mails.