Youth today, with all of their access to social media seem a shallow, ego-centric lot. They fill up bits and bites on Facebook with pictures of themselves on the toilet, what they wore or didn’t on their last dates, what they ate when grandma took them to a fancy restaurant, etc., etc., They never go out of the door without their cell phones which remain attached to their ears while walking to school or to their cars. When lecturers fail to hold their attention for a mille-second, they text each other under the desk with such witticisms as, “CU later”. They have hundreds of friends, but are so busy telling everyone about themselves, that they have less knowledge about a true friend than their contemporaries of a hundred years ago. One could ignore them and their subculture if they were not going to be the future caretakers of society and of the environment. Taken at first glance, one could despair. However, every once in a while, youth does something that lifts one’s heart.
Last Wednesday, the gallery that I run in a community college had its annual student exhibition. By its opening, I was exhausted making certain that all of the student entrees were properly labeled, that the jurors were properly fed and paid, that the lists indicating which students were in and which were out were correct and posted, that the food ordered for the reception contained items of intergenerational taste, that each work was safely hanged and appropriately labeled and that the faculty member selected to announce the prize winners had the list of names that correctly matched the prize winners.
I was not surprised albeit a little disappointed when the best of the tid-bits of food that I painstakingly ordered for the reception were consumed by the art student visitors before the parents and the grandparents of the students actually in the exhibit arrived. Nevertheless, the adult visitors and the college administration was duly impressed by the total ambience, as well as the art work on display.
By the last half hour of the reception, most of the older generation had departed the gallery. To my delight, small groups of students moved from one work to another, discussing the techniques used and the over-all aesthetic impression of the work viewed. Not a cell phone was in sight. The only four letter word that I heard was the ubiquitous, “like”, the preferred connective of the younger generation. This went on until the very end of the reception when, as the group left the gallery. But, not before they turned to me and ,smiling, thanked me for my efforts on their behalf. What an up-lift to my spirit! Perhaps under all of the every day mindless chatter the youth of today are just as mindful and sincere as their ancestors.