Several months ago, when Joseph and I sat down together to discuss the idea of creating a topical theme for Spiritualists International Magazine, many of the ideas that came up we recognized the potential of immediately. Last month, for example, we had great responses from our authors in discussing the concepts related to living to make a difference, and we know this was a topic that touched many of you in our audience. We were moved and touched by the many responses and comments, and we were especially inspired to learn how some of our readers take action to improve the world in their own lives. The concept of working towards a better world is, of course, an important consideration on any spiritual quest, and we knew that this theme would resonate deeply.
I do not bring this up to brag nor even just to thank those of you who shared your own thoughts, ideas, and actions. Rather, it is because the discussion of this month’s topic, “Youth Culture” was a rather less straightforward one. Youth Culture, broadly defined, is the culture created by adolescents, and there are many arguments about whether it is truly a distinct culture, separate from that of the community as a whole. There are those who argue that it does not exist, and there are others who have elaborate theories on how it developed in modern cultures as a by-product of an educational system that segregates young people from the adult world. All that is, of course, intriguing and worth discussion, but it is not what we are interested in here at SIM. Rather, we take the view that young people do indeed have their own cultural identity, and we recognize that they are also the ones, for obvious reasons, who matter most to the future.
One of the difficulties in addressing this topic, however, is that we are not adolescents. While many of us at this magazine consider ourselves to be young (and even more, young at heart), few of us are close to being within that age group. As such, we are outsiders, and in looking at the issues young people are contending with, and the culture they are developing as a result, we have a limited and, perhaps, even warped perspective. What is more, we also recognize that this culture is not something that we could or should meddle with: the moment that we as adults begin to become involved with an element of youth culture in a significant way, it changes from being something specific to that community and is likely to be replaced, or altered. Looking at the migration of adolescents away from social networking apps as they become popular amongst their parents will demonstrate this quite clearly.
Despite these difficulties, it seems extremely important to me to take a look at the communities and identities that young people are forging today. Issues like bullying, teenage suicide, and even school shootings are apparent. On the other hand, their seem to be many within the spiritual community who see the youth of today as more advanced than previous generations. As well, we are dealing with a generation of young people who exist in a time of turbulence and change. This is both true on a political level, considering the events that have unfolded on the global scale since the turn of the millennia, and, perhaps more importantly, on a technological one. Every few years of late we seem to have not only a faster computer or more immersive visual display, but new classes of computer reaching the public. When I consider that the cellular phone I carry today in my pocket can do far more than the desktop computer I had in college, it becomes clear that this is a time of incredible change for society. How is this impacting those coming of age today?
These concepts are, of course, central to why we chose to examine youth culture this month. I, personally, am extremely eager and excited to discover what our contributors share, and hope that you feel the same way. It is, I believe, an important subject, and one that I know you will find worth exploring, especially as you read the diverse contributions on the subject from our authors.
I also am extremely excited to announce that SIM will be launching a podcast video this month. While I cannot discuss all the details yet, I can say that Joseph and myself will host it, and that we are hoping that we can present it as a weekly feature. It will feature guests, including contributors from the magazine. We don’t yet have a launch date, but we will keep you informed through the website and on our Google+ and Facebook communities.
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