Straight Talk Advice

Age of the “Selfie” needs course correction

Jan 06, 2015

Part 2: Millennials share up-close and personal challenges for 2015

Dear Readers: We continue with Millennial-generation challenges for 2015. While considering these challenges, the last entry by Icis reminds us to not stereotype individuals. Note: These challenges did not occur in a vacuum. All generations need to be the change. —Lauren

Justin 17, Brentwood, Calif. Ask me a question

Materialism, sex and self-interest define society. We've let our human weaknesses go too far. Pop celebrities show us how to live and what's important (i.e., tons of expensive stuff). Sex is everywhere. Anybody with internet can access pornography — including young kids. Everywhere on social media are shirtless guys flexing and bikini-clad girls “going for a swim”. Burgeoning dating sites create constant virtual hookups via photo and message exchange. Lastly, self-interest is king. People are so hostile in the way they talk, love and interact. Divorce rates and affairs are increasing and violence is ever present. Humans are becoming less caring and I believe this is directly connected to social media and the rise of the “selfie”. We beg to be seen and champion image over substance. I believe these issues can and should be corrected with a societal effort.

Breele 21, Los Angeles, Calif. Ask me a question

I'm far from wanting kids, but I do want a committed monogamous partner — a rare goal for younger guys who tend to be self-interested, showy, and hopping from girl to girl. I've seen guys on dates getting other girls' phone numbers! Maybe this works for some girls, but I find older men (29-39) much more attractive. Older men also encourage and help me pursue my dreams without expecting to be slept with. The typical guy my age is self-absorbed with video games, drinking beer, getting high, eating takeout and watching porn. I've been asked numerous times (by guys of all ages) if I watch porn and if I'd watch it with them. Yuck. So many can't function without it. It's considered real sexy if girls do, so girls get addicted, too. If girls wouldn't allow it and guys would break the habit, it would help our generation's problem with relational intimacy.

Elle 19, Mifflintown, Penn. Ask me a question

I'm extremely disappointed in how we treat our elders. I've seen too many grandparents trying unsuccessfully to interact with their glazed-eyed, iPhone-absorbed grandkids. Elders deserve respect and have loads to teach. Please remove your earbuds, look people in the eye, and avoid monosyllabic answers! Lets also stop thinking it's cool that sex is a meaningless physical activity to engage in randomly. Sex creates strong emotional ties and having multiple or premarital partners has many negative effects.

Icis 16, Detroit, Mich. Ask me a question

ster-e-o-type, noun “1. a widely-held, fixed, oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” Blondes are dumb. Men are players. Asians are hyper-intelligent. My generation, painted as uneducated, promiscuous and belligerent, has it the worst. 

Education: The stereotype that we are bored, ignorant students with high anxiety levels causes courses to begin by reiterating the alphabet. Teachers give us little respect.

Sex: Not every young person is committing a sexual act. And we are not reiterating the Boomer generation. The U.S. teen birth rate has declined continuously the past 20 years, from 62 births per 1000 adolescent females in 1991, to only 27 such births in 2013, according to the Office of Adolescent Health. Yet, we're viewed as loose-legged! Just because we dance in our undies doesn't mean we do the dance with no pants.

Belligerence: Most shopping centers are plastered with signs barring juveniles unless accompanied by an adult, thus publishing the fear of teenagers. We shouldn't be assumed belligerent and have to cower when entering a store because the clerks' eyes are fixated on us. My generation has been blindsided by the stereotype truck. I'm not mindless, I'm not oversexed, I'm not antagonistic. I am Icis, proud member of the 90's generation.

  1. By M.C., age 16, from Carmichael, CA on 01/07/2015

    Like Icis, I am sick and tired of the unfair stereotyping that is so common these days.  It is especially a problem for me as an openly gay teenager.  Everyone assumes that gays are sexually promiscuous when in fact we are no more or less promiscuous than anyone else.  Just because we’re gay, everyone assumes that my girlfriend and I constantly have sex when in fact we don’t have sex.  But nobody just assumes that my straight friends are having sex with their boyfriends, even though some of them actually are.  We constantly get cruel comments about our assumed promiscuity and it really burns me up.  I know that the gay-straight undressing issue has been written about at length in Straight Talk, but I’d still like to give my 2 cents worth anyway, as I also get cruel comments about this issue and everyone assumes that I’m sexually interested in seeing other girls’ bodies when it’s totally untrue, another stereotype that we face.  I still have the same body parts as any other girl, so what is there for me to be interested in looking at?  I also see my (straight) sister nude every day since we share a room so if I wanted to see another girl’s body I can see hers, although I have absolutely no sexual interest when I see her nude and we’re just as comfortable with each other in this way as any other sisters are.  But some girls make no secret of the fact that they’re uncomfortable with me in this way I the locker room and at slumber parties and think I get off seeing them undressed.

    There are a small number of Muslim kids at my school, and they are also unfairly stereotyped and many kids assume that they support terrorism when they are just normal teenagers, and they are constantly teased and bullied.  I really empathize with them as someone who also suffers from being stereotyped.

    I really wish that everyone could be judged as the individuals who they are with the cruel stereotyping that goes on.

    M.C.

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    1. By Erica, age 17, from Santa Ana, CA on 01/07/2015

      My twin sister and I are also stereotyped in a somewhat different, but in just a cruel and unfair way.  We are on the girls’ basketball team.  There are 2 girls on the team who are openly gay, but the rest of us including my sister and me, are totally straight.  However, the rumor somehow got started that we are all gay and all have sex (even group sex) with each other which is a total and complete lie.  A girl who had been a friend of ours before the rumors started and had been to our room told everybody that we share a bed (which is true) and got the rumor started that we even have sex with each other (which is NOT true).  We have no problem with the girls who are gay and are comfortable changing and showering with them in the locker room after practices and games.  We have never had the feeling that they were the least bit interested in seeing our bodies when we are nude in the communal showers with them.  However, we are NOT gay, and very much resent being stereotyped in this way just because 2 girls on the team happen to be gay.  Even though we love playing basketball, we seriously considered quitting the team because of this.  However, we realized that it would be pointless since the damage has already been done.

      Erica

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      1. By A.G., age 16, from Redding, CA on 01/08/2015

        The same type of stereotyping also goes on at my school and my best friend and I are innocent victims of it.  Some girls who are openly gay are also very athletic and are into girls’ sports.  Because of this, others on the sports teams get stereotyped.  My best friend and I were on the girls’ volleyball team last year which also had 2 of the most openly gay girls.  My friend and I are very close and always hang out together and don’t have boyfriends.  Because of all of these things, we got lumped in with the gays on the team and everybody thinks we’re gay no matter how hard we tried to deny it.  Everybody thinks we’re gay and are a “couple.” We had no problem changing and showering with the gay girls, and they never tried to “hit” on us or show any interest in our bodies when they saw us naked.  However, we’re both totally straight.  We have sleepovers all the time and never get sexual feelings when we undress and see each other naked.  The same is true when we share a bed at her house.  If we could just get boyfriends, we could dispel the rumors.  But guys won’t get near us because of the assumption that we’re gay.  It’s a total Catch-22 since we can’t get boyfriends because everyone thinks we’re gay and we can’t dispel the rumors that we’re gay because we can’t get boyfriends.

        A.G.

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      2. By Joanne, age 16, from Sonoma, CA on 01/10/2015

        The stereotyping of girl athletes also goes on at my school, and it’s very unfair.  It’s hard to understand, since the opposite is true for the guys.  Nobody accuses the guys who are on the sports teams of being gay and being sexually interested in each other in the locker room and showers.  In fact, the opposite is true, and they are considered the most macho and masculine and it’s the guys who are not good at athletics who are accused of being gay (another unfair stereotype). 

        It does seem like a disproportionate number of the girl athletes happen to be gay.  However, the majority of us are totally straight.  Yes, we change together in the locker room and shower in the nude next to each other in the communal showers, but there is nothing sexual about it and the girls who happen to be gay have never made me uncomfortable or shown any sexual interest in my body.  I’ve never been shy about my body with other girls and am just as comfortable with them as with my straight friends and even my own sister who I share a room with and undress in front of every day.  Some of the girls on the sports teams are “couples” and may be having sex.  I really don’t know and don’t care.  But the rest of us are not having sex with each other despite what many people think.

        Joanne

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  2. By R.A., age 16, from Salinas, CA on 01/09/2015

    My challenge is a personal one, but I still think it’s relevant as many teenagers face similar issues.  I want to learn how to get along better with my 12 year old little sister with whom I now have to share a room.  We always had our own rooms until last year when our parents got divorced and had to sell our house and we had to move with our mom to a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment.  We were never close, but since we had our own rooms, we could just basically ignore each other most of the time.  However, that isn’t possible now that we have to share a small room and we have alot of fights and arguments.  Our mom puts most of the blame on me since I’m older and says I have to be able to be tolerant and understanding of my little sister who is just starting puberty and going through a difficult time (which I understand since I remember what that was like).  Even though we’re sisters, since we had separate rooms we weren’t used to undressing in front of each other and it took time to get comfortable with each other in that way.  Our house had 2 bathrooms, so we never had to share the bathroom.  But now with only 1 bathroom, we have to share it in the morning (so that our mom can have her own private time in there, of course).  That was even harder to get used to as I’d never shared the bathroom when “using the facility” to say it nicely, and my sister goes out of her way to insist on coming in just because she knows it bugs me. I tell myself that it shouldn’t bother me since she’s my sister, but it does and I still haven’t gotten totally used to that like I have with undressing and being nude in front of her in the bedroom.

    Anyway, it looks like I’m going to be stuck in the same room with her and sharing the bathroom for at least 2 more years (and maybe more because I’ll probably only be able to afford community college), so I’m determined to learn how to put up with her and get along better.

    R.A.

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    1. By Sharon, age 17, from Fountain Valley, CA on 01/09/2015

      My sister and I went through something similar when our parents divorced, and you are right that adjusting to sharing a room when you have always had your own room is a challenge.  However, my sister and I were actually able to work things out and turn it into something positive.  Undressing was not an issue for us.  While we had our own rooms, we periodically were in situations where we had to share a room such as visiting relatives, family vacations, and doubling up at our house to accommodate overnight guests, and undressing in front of each other and seeing each other nude was never a problem as sisters, and it looks like it wasn’t a real problem for you and your sister once you got used to it as it should be with any sisters.  Sharing the bathroom was more difficult for us just as it is for you.  We realized that it was no big deal to share the bathroom when we were just doing “#1” but we didn’t think we could ever get used to sharing the bathroom when we were doing “#2” so we managed to arrange our schedules so that we could have privacy at a time like that.  We also started doing things in the bedroom that really didn’t have to be done in the bathroom like doing our hair and our makeup since we also have a large mirror above the dresser in our bedroom.

      Before we started sharing a room, we had never been close.  When we first had to share a room, we fought and argued a lot.  However, after a while we got over it and were able to work things out with each other.  We also started confiding in each other and sharing secrets and crying on each others shoulder when we needed to, and realized that there were good things about being together.  So, even though it’s hard to suddenly have to share a room, try to find positives in the situation.  As you say, you’re going to have to share a room with her for at least another 2 years whether you like it or not, so your better off looking for positives and trying to make the best of it even though it definitely is a challenge.

      Sharon

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    2. By Allison, age 41, from Auburn, CA on 01/11/2015

      I am glad to see that you are determined to work things out with your sister.  Today’s teenagers need to realize that life is not perfect and can be unfair, and they need to learn to deal with difficult situations and compromise as they will find that they need to do this their whole lives, not just when they are teenagers.  My daughters are in a similar situation and have to share a room due to their father’s leaving us for another woman and having to divorce and move into a smaller place.  However, they make no effort to try to compromise and accept the situation.  All they do is complain and fight and argue, which makes things very difficult.  My younger daughter is undergoing puberty which has made her very shy and sensitive about her body and won’t even undress in front of her own sister which makes things very difficult when they have to share a room.  My older daughter doesn’t have a problem with this, but is still very selfish and constantly verbally abuses her sister and refuses to compromise. 

      While I understand that our change in circumstances is difficult for them, it is also difficult for me and I think they could make much more of an effort to deal with it and get along.  I have a hard time feeling too sorry for their having to share a room.  I come from a large family and my father just earned a very modest living and my mother didn’t work outside the home (but worked very hard inside the home with our large family).  Everybody shared a room and nobody complained, and I even had to share a bed much of the time.  Undressing in front of each other was never a problem for my sisters and me or for our brothers, and we even managed to share the bathroom without it being a big problem.  Since we grew up without privacy in the bathroom from the beginning, it never really bothered us.

      I really wish my daughters could be like you and make an effort to get along.  They still have it much better than I did growing up.

      Allison

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