The restlessness has not left a great number of us --- not only those who work directly or indirectly for media.
The string of most unfortunate events --- all involving minors --- that became the subject of conversation from coffee shops to chat rooms all centered on one major concern: sex and children.
Whether it is the possible misinterpretation of physical familiarity between two boys (given malice by the voyeuristic viewers seeking for something sensational to take place in a social experiment) or the gender issues of a sensitive and extremely intelligent young girl or the discovery of the self by a twelve year old actress --- the results were quite clear. People were hurt, appalled, surprised, crushed.
And the question that emerges is one and the same: what are we doing to our children?
Let us lay down some very important facts before we proceed --- something that we have to accept as givens so that we do not insist on what is no longer possible or even feasible.
The world has changed as it has always been changing.
It is no longer possible to impose the way we think in a planet that has so changed too quickly, too abruptly and is still changing even at a faster pace. The generation that we were --- say twenty or thirty years ago --- is no longer the same mindset that rules the kids of today.
The same problems we faced as we were misunderstood by our parents --- is the same dilemma that kids are facing now when they think of us.
The term "old" has never been so maligned because it is no longer viewed with the same degree of respect but rather with being dispensable. After all, this is a world where nothing is permanent, nothing is irreplaceable and everything is as good as it is new and not because it is necessarily better.
This is a generation that demands instant gratification.
It is the remote-control generation where everything can be Googled and that knowledge is the acquisition of facts but not necessarily the comprehension of its value or meaning. This is the age of the instant ramen noodle, the three-in-one-coffee mix and the electronic cash. This is a generation that does not know how to wait because time is so precious that they are in too much of a hurry.
What for? Why the rush? Why the compulsion to do things quickly ---as if to rush the years? Why the need for the here and now, never projecting beyond what can be seen inside a room --- more so, not thinking of the rewards and repercussions of actions?
Because it is a generation founded on fear: it is the fear to be left out, to be out of sync, to be left behind --- and worse, to miss out on what the world has to offer right to the last millisecond.
It is a generation terrified to be old.
This is how our kids view the world --- because we believe that everything has been made easier and more accessible to them. The internet has simplified the search for knowledge with the click of a mouse. They are fed with ideas, images, stories and what have you regardless of appropriateness, relevance, importance or even form. But to them, relevance is relative.
Perhaps it is this information overload --- the ease by which all these forms and ideas can be gathered that has really messed up the minds of the young in trying to figure out what to do or make use of all their harvested data.
Yet there is repulsion at the thought of what kids are capable of doing nowadays. The Baby Boomers are now grandparents --- as the Gen X have assumed the parental role and having to deal with their children, the Millennials. And the Millennials far different from any other generation that came before them. This is the generation that was born with fingers reaching out for keyboards even as infants --- that whole cluster of digitally-conditioned mavericks whose concept of rebellion is to be different because they can no longer accept anything outdated and forced down their throat.
They are computer natives --- as all the other generations that came before them are computer migrants.
The saddest realization is that the kids have become who they are because of the world that that their parents --- the adults --- shaped, provided and conditioned for them. In our belief that moving forward in the name of progress/advancement/development --- so much has been forgotten, sacrificed or forfeited.
One of them is compassion.
When kids do cruel things to themselves, it is because they fail to relate to a much deeper sense of roots to their very being.
Parents try very hard to understand their children --- as they should --- but there are also those who impose the tenets of their world to the universe of their kids. They no longer match regardless of effort to tow the line --- and compel their kids to behave in a way they were conditioned by their own parents.
In the age of the selfie, there is a constant need for affirmation ... and asserting one's existence.
Posting in social media is not merely for the sake of posterity but an announcement of one's existence.
Taking a Snapchat video or uploading an Instagram image is to create a sense of belonging to the timeline of life.
The micro-blogging of Twitter is an up-to-the-minute announcement of one's thoughts, feelings and self-worth.
All these have become so much a party of the daily life of the twenty-first century plugged-in civilization: we have become so connected as a worldwide community --- but so isolated as individuals because everything for us becomes virtual. This includes human relationships.
And this is the kind of world that has defined the existence of our children.
They are not to blame if they find great difficulty to relate to others because it is a world that takes relationships in the most superficial conditions. All it takes is a click of the mouse to turn a total stranger into a FRIEND and to be eternally linked top this creature in Facebook. It also takes little effort to adjust that cursor then click to UNFRIEND or BLOCK someone from the face of one's virtual existence.
That is how our kids communicate to one another and to the rest of the world that is so much larger and more complex.
Thus they are in too much of a hurry. They want to grow up fast ... by gathering as much experience as possible and getting drunk with the speed of their development like the air that rushes to the face when one sticks out one's head on a speeding car. They are afraid that time will move too fast ... so they abbreviate their lives with misguided recklessness.
And it is not solely their fault.
The decision may be theirs to choose whatever path to take --- but it is also the responsibility of the adults not only to provide guidance but to give them choices.
How can there be disgust when a twelve year old girl makes a video of herself doing unimaginable things to her body whereas it is the adults that feed kids with ideas that sexuality is everything in validating one's existence? How can there be moral grounds when what kids see is how they, at a very early age, are pushed to celebrate their puberty by being sold as love-hungry tweens whose only reason for existence is to get a partner?
(A disgusted parent said, "There is nothing you can see on tv that tells kids the importance of schooling. Yes, they are in school uniforms --- but all they do is flirt and talk about their crushes." I told the parent, "That cannot be helped. That is what sells to the audience. That is what they like ..." to which she replied, "Not everything we claim we like is good for us in the long run."
I told the parent that television is a business and that its principal concern is to sell. She replied, with much sadness, "Yes, they sell ... but at what cost?"
The answer to her question is quite apparent.)
It is easier to be harsh on the kids and conclude with a sweeping statement that they are a messed-up generation.
But looking back, the same observations were told of this generation now undergoing a dilemma trying to understand what happened to their kids.
We can only understand them if we also take into account what we have done to this world to make our kids what they have become. And it is only addressing this head-on that perhaps (just perhaps) we can comprehend their problems, empathize with their pain but more so learn to love them ... with much greater validation.
For over above being anything or everything else, they must see us --- the older generation --- to be friends rather than just being people watching and waiting for their next mistake.
After all, nothing can bring back the world as we knew it --- so we might as well know the world for what it is right now.