Modern youth, indeed all youth in whatever country, have something in common
with the crab. The crab, if you look at him carefully as he sidewalks the golden
sandy shores of Malaysia, has a very hard outside shell under which is a very
soft interior and young people can be compared with crabs.
Today's youth, in general, seem at first glance to be hard, sophisticated and
wordy. On the whole, he is better educated than his parents were. There are more
schools, more colleges and universities and more chances for him to develop the
best that is in him. He enjoys all the advantages of modern science, television,
radio, faster and more efficient travel - all contribute to his urbanity. A
Malaysian youth enjoys travel these days just as the youth of Europe and America
does. Mass production means cheap, smart clothes within the reach of most
pockets. It means possessions too, on a far larger scale than what the previous
generations have had.
This group, if they are working are comparatively "well-off," and since between
the ages of fifteen and twenty, most of them are single, and live at home, very
cheaply; they have more actual spending money per head than any other age group.
Consequently, their pleasures and their possessions, clothes, make-up in the
case of girls, and motor-cycles and things of that kind for boys, are more
abundant than they were ten years ago.
This age group too, seems to like the same kind of things and adopt similar
fashions. Pop music is its theme song. Walkman (cassette player) and youth seem
to be inseparable and it is "a hard day's night" for the rest! The 'Pop groups'
have set the fashion among many young people, for other things too. The long
hair style of the modern young man of the West has become almost a status
symbol. Clothes for boys have a more distinctive cut and are fashioned from
brighter materials. The girls, while adoring the Western singers, wear their
hairs long and straight and "Baby Doll" dresses are "with it."
This, then, is the outer shell of the modern youth, but underneath is the soft
vulnerable part. He has his problems just as his parents had at the same age.
For some examinations loom forever large and these are, in some ways harder
because competition is keen these days, and the "rat race" so much quicker. In
an Age of Technology, great emphasis is laid on technical and written
qualifications of all kinds. For others, who are wage earners already, there are
problems of balancing the budget, of making ends meet, of pleasing the boss and
doing a satisfactory job.
For all of them, there is the difficult process of transition from the child,
with very few responsibilities to the adult with very many. How to behave? What
to say? Shall I sound or look silly? How to run a banking account or a car? Such
questions may seem trivial, but to modern youth, struggling to find his feet in
an adult world, they are all important, because youth is, above all sensitive.
An advantage of age is that life teaches us not to care too much what other
people think, but this is not given to youth and so they are easily hurt.
Questions of religion, of morals, of politics worry them, because this age
group, or whatever educational attainment is a "thinking" group. It questions,
for the first time, the validity of parental utterances or the sagacity of
philosophers and religious leaders. All the time, it is searching for truth and
for the answers to life's problems. It sometimes thinks that it has found them
until life shows that is has not! Much, far too much, is written, discussed and
published about modern youth, its habits and its behavior.
Juvenile crime and delinquency, encouraged by violence in television programs
and 'Comics,' are, it is said on the increase. For the small minority, this is
unfortunately true, but it must be remembered that minor crimes, all of which
are recorded and apprehended today, would have been 'overlooked' or punished by
'authority' on the spot, fifty years ago. Nowadays, all crimes, however trivial,
reach juvenile Courts and so swell the statistics.
Modem youth is often irritating, but which generation of young people is not? It
may have 'oddities' which to older people seem very peculiar indeed, but, on the
whole, the picture is a bright one. Young people, whether in the East or in the
West, enjoy their young and, with help and guidance, will mature to be the
citizens and parents of tomorrow. Good citizens and good parents, in these days
will be discussing the foibles and peccadilloes of their own children - the
youth of tomorrow.