The Need For Better Role Models

When Titanic was re-released in April, there was an image going around – a screencap of some kids chatting on Facebook about discovering the movie was based on real events.  To them, it was amazing and gave some of them a new perspective on the movie, but the group as a whole became an internet joke, attacked for not knowing the real story to begin with.

There’s more in the world right now encouraging stupid or impulsive, selfish behavior. When that’s what you’re surrounded by, of course you aren’t going to grow up to be someone who chooses to take part in the community. Why should you when these people you freely acknowledge as losers are succeeding by being selfish losers? Of course you aren’t going to develop anything resembling a work ethic. Why should you when television and the internet are full of people who’ve become celebrities just because they made one comment that proved they slept through school?

We talk about all the ways television impacts us negatively, but do we ever really look at what’s going on? Kids grow up in front of the television, Netflix, and YouTube. And a fair few of them gravitate toward the stupid stuff because anything else makes them think, and they’re being taught in school that they don’t have to think. They just have to follow rubrics, make excuses, and have their parents threaten the teacher, and they’ll pass the class. And they’ll be told how wonderful they are, and reassured that their failures and their misbehavior aren’t their fault.

And we end up with a generation with little common or base knowledge and an overly inflated self-esteem and sense of entitlement. They don’t understand how simple things work because they were socially promoted through their math and science classes. They can’t put together an intelligible email…or a complete sentence for that matter, because they were socially promoted through language arts. And develop a love of reading? Forget that! Books are for stupid English class. No one in the real world reads (which does actually confuse me. I see more people reading something on the bus than not reading.) They have no idea how to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, nor any clue with how to deal with rejection.

I’ve talked about this in the past on other blogs, but what if we stopped putting the losers in the spotlight and started heaping all the attention on people doing real, positive, impactful things in the world? What if we stopped making mistakes and failure the enemy, and turned them into the teaching and motivation moments they used to be? If we all stopped acting like teenagers, would the teenagers coming up be more able to move on to a productive adulthood?

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