Talking with teenagers always makes me feel two things.
First, it makes me feel old. And I mean really old. Old like a piece of my body might fall off at any time. Old like when I breathe out a puff of dust flies into the air.
Old like I want to take a shot of Metamucil and tell them all to get off my lawn.
You know, old.
The other thing it makes me feel is hopeful. You know, hopeful like maybe the world isn’t completely doomed after all.
I had these feelings last week when I had a chance to talk with a class at Oregon High School. This was a small class of students who were working on the school paper. Who better to talk with them than the editor of the local newspaper?
OK, maybe an astronaut would have been more exciting. Certainly a TV personality or someone who understands what Billie Eilish is so down about would be better. But they got me.
(If you have no idea who this Billie Eilish person is, you are in worse shape than me, pal.)
I enjoy talking with school groups, or any group, really, about my chosen profession. I am very proud of what I do, and I have had the opportunity to do some cool things as a journalist. But I especially love to talk with younger people about it. Because let’s face it, journalism is dying a slow death.
That, of course, makes me sad. But it also makes me not envy the young. Sure, they have the world at their fingertips. That cellphone in their pocket/purse/backpack can open up the world to them. Pretty much any piece of information can be googled and brought to them in a matter of seconds.
That’s good, right? Yes, it certainly is a good thing. But in such a divisive world with legitimate news sources harder to find than a politician who actually has personal integrity, instant information can be an enemy to a free country.
What sources do you trust? That is a question that will haunt this country and this world into the future. If you have no history understanding what a good source is, you are more likely to fall for the false sources that are multiplying on the Internet daily.
And how about the failing environment? We can ignore the truth, but it is still the truth – global warming is here and it is a massive problem. I will probably be dead before the catastrophe comes, but these young people will have to deal with things my generation and those before us have ignored.
And as I mentioned before, we have never been more divided as a nation. Just recently a plot by militia members to abduct the governor of Michigan because they disagreed with her was uncovered and stopped. The fact that this wasn’t a bigger deal than it was says a lot about our country. And none of it is good.
But when I meet and talk with younger people, I am always reminded that they can be smart and inquisitive and they understand the world they live in – probably better than we do. They grew up with cellphones and social media and horribly divided politics. They have a nose for the truth and reality that many of us do not.
I feel better knowing that the future is in pretty good hands. We all should feel good about that.