What Youth Culture Teaches Us About Our Own Existence

The urge to define our own existence is amplified in youth culture, therefore easier to analyze. We are existentially volatile and unstable as teens and 20-somethings. It’s almost impossible to feel our own existence because we are preoccupied with conceptually understanding the world around us. The noise generated from the conceptual struggles drowns out our innate sense of existence. We are in constant need of vehicles/devices that allow us to perform identity/existential differentiation, such as magazines, bands, and even fashion brands. We are dependent on them. To craft our own existence, we carefully associate ourselves with people, institutions, ideas, and identities that are already recognized by our culture. We piggyback on their existence and cultural significance, like grafting ourselves onto bigger trees. For existential purposes, the trees that we don’t belong to are just as important as the trees that we belong to.

Our reliance on conceptual differentiation should ideally wane as we age. In this sense, what young people need is not another tree to graft themselves onto. Creating yet another power structure (”alternative” or otherwise) to serve their need to symbolically define their own existence does not ultimately lead to spiritual progress. They should be encouraged to examine ideas irrespective of who wrote or published them, and develop the ability to evaluate them according to their own standards. For this reason, I like Google News because it is less dependent on human curation and shows me articles irrespective of who published them. This is the advantage of today’s youths. The previous generations did not have the same means; the only way to publish anything to the masses was to go through the established curators and gatekeepers of public opinions, who essentially controlled the means by which the youths defined their own existence. Today’s youths should be encouraged to curate and publish their own ideas and thoughts without the dictators/influencers of ideas, opinions, and taste.