Muscat: The youth now use social media as an outlet for their frustration. If we don't understand this basic human behaviour, whether we are parents or public officials, then we are assured of a long, bumpy journey of clashes with rebellious young people.
It is wrong to use draconian measures to suppress what is taking shape in the hearts and minds of budding talents. When a teenager or even a youngster in his/her early twenties resorts to the use of electronic media for self-expression, it is usually because we have stopped listening to them in the normal way.
We also refuse to acknowledge that time is changing for all of us. If we only use extreme measures to silence them, then we will only succeed in driving them underground, where we cannot monitor their activities.
I remember, as a child, my friends and I would play soccer in the street, until the neighbours stopped us. Since we could not play football anymore, we had to let off steam somewhere else, and we engaged in activities that were illegal in the eyes of both our parents and the law. To us, it was not just a game of kicking around a ball; rather, it was a way of attracting attention so the community would notice that we were around.
Yes, social media is also used to settle scores, hurl insults, and pick up bad habits from people who are bent on causing trouble for unsuspecting youngsters. But bright, well-educated young people with an abundance of opportunities will not resort to any of that. Why should they if the going is good for them?
On the other hand, if a young person finds fault and questions his/her existence, then we can be sure that no one bothered to provide any answers at home, school, or the office. These are the ones we should watch out for because they seek to be different and to make an impression when they don't receive any recognition for their beliefs. If their future is fraught with uncertainty, then social media is a healthy way out to express themselves. To them, social media is a safety valve to let off steam. If we tamper with that valve, we are then fuelling a runaway train.
When we accept that social media is a genuine force to reckon with and that it will not fade away, we stand a better chance of resolving the challenges these seemingly rebellious young people face in their daily lives. Perhaps, we should try to see what they see and feel what they feel. We would then realise that it is not anger that they are feeling, but a fear of the future. They fear missing the train of opportunity. It is very simple. If we don't let them ride it, they will hijack it and drive it at a speed that will brutally destroy everything in its path, stopping for no whistle but their own.
In conclusion, if we cannot listen to them at home, in the classroom, or on the streets, then let's hear them out when they tap out their frustrations on their keyboards. It is a cry for help and certainly not sabre-rattling. They are frightened, overgrown kids who are desperate for a sympathetic ear, not a reprimand. They may be outwardly rebellious but are inwardly distressed. They would lose interest in blogging about what we deem to be "unhealthy pursuits" if they had a lifeline thrown to them. The truth is that the only thing they need is social status and not social media, so long as they are fully occupied with a hard day's work at the office and a large enough pay-check to make it worth their while.
All they need is a good environment; then, they would use their writings on social media to reflect their successes. If they continue to see obstacles in their path, then they will continue to wage war via electronic pages. And then, who is to blame?