Two Problems and the Biggest Challenge of Choices in Representing Time to Teenagers
What would you do differently if you had the choice of seeing the future?
I look at my open hand. Yes, it’s true … it’s not even imagination any more. I can see clearly my past, present and future and spark of choice resting on my palm. They may be invisible shapes in the sensory world but the meanings are written clearly across my brain along with a surge of power that respecting my Timeline is now up to me …excerpt from A Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand.
One problem with time is that it seems with age we tend to understand and appreciate the passage of time and the vistas it has afforded us. Time gives us the space to live events going forwards, never backwards so we wonder if we may have missed some precious moments to make a replete timeline. Perhaps this worry of missing timely moments or events is because we can’t image time outside of clocks or numbers.
The management or control of time may just be the most powerful force we have.
Even from an adult perspective, how would you show your timely perceptions:
How would you draw a timeline to represent your life’s events, important choices and decisions?
How can your Timeline be more than a graph but seen as the embodiment of living itself?
So, what is the value of a timeline to a teenager?
First, it’s very short and full of potential.
Second, it’s a gift of beauty, vitality and invincibility with no visible ending. Teenagers are quick to learn, to try new things, to trust their instincts and self-affirmations. Youth is a time for curiosity, strength, exploration and self-discovery as well as physical, mental and social development. And, so it should be about freedom and exuberance before adulthood sets in with jobs and duties. After all, adulthood can be highly overrated!
Third, it’s a matter of survival and independence in today’s culture. They are natural risk-takers, and don’t like to be preached to when engaged midstream in huge unprecedented changes all around them night and day especially on social media.
Think about it. In a brief matter of a decade or so, there has been a transformation of subjects and thoughts unlike anything experienced in human history where the Internet has created Great Changes in our society forever with no clear safety nets for young people. Teen girls, especially, are surrounded by a brand new vocabulary and motivation in a Selfie Domain with no training or denotation.
And, therein, are two problems.
First, a general lack of knowledge how to cope with this new subject matter. Usually, any new subject requires learning with clear objectives like any other study; preparation, asking questions, analyzing content, decision making and evaluation with more than one response. Unfortunately, there is no training for young girls to gain any kind of understanding much less mastery over these overwhelming changes. Ignorance and confusion are a lethal mixture.
Second, young developing brains naturally respond to curiosity, endless stimuli and challenging contrarian messages and too often they are left victims through no fault of their own. There is nothing more tragic than a 14 year old girl who is influenced to make bad choices and pays for those mistakes for the rest of her life surrounded by negative circumstances. A bright beautiful spirit lies broken and, in some cases, can even die.
If you ask a teenager what is the most valuable thing or power you have, the answer, most probably, won’t be time itself. After all, what happens today is more important for fun, excitement, group and self-identity and tomorrow will just happen.
An added challenge in representing the value of Time is the instant speed of their technical gadgets to validate their inevitable passion to grow up on their own terms … instant gratification without the effort.
In fact, for most people, the primary focus of time is counting numbers in a tactical system measured by minutes, days, months, years, decades, etc. However, how do you count or measure the quantity of EXPERIENCE which is the content between the numbers? It is the quality of experience and foresight that makes the difference … but how do you explain this to a 14 year old?
How can teens be helped to value their short timeline well?
Perhaps we need to start talking about and visualizing simple elements of time.
Teens learn better from peers so tell a story about a teen girl’s experiences in a “Selfie-Celtie” world, her regrets, and redemption to believe more in her true self and natural abilities with positive ways to connect to the internet.
Along the way, the passage of time can be progressively explained as the “shapes” of Time as circles for the Present, blocks for the Past, and open-ended lines for the Future. It is easier to picture how they may be interconnected on a time line and web of life.
The Yesterdays, whether good or bad, can pile up like a wall not to be replayed or rebuilt. The Tomorrows are visionary directions of hope. They can embody huge amounts of time. But Today is the only living circle of opportunity where to choose your future life lines or directions.
But here is the strangest paradox of Time. It can only be managed in a very small time frame called TODAY. And TODAY can sometimes be sparked by a tinier matter of CHOICE.
Herein lies the tragedy or the triumph. As tiny as choice may be, it holds the seeds of reaction, decision, habit and everything else in between. Doesn’t it make better sense to broaden the scope or power of this moment?
The Biggest Challenge is Making a Smart Choice
Therein, the biggest challenge is to show teenagers the importance of making a smart choice as a pivot point on their future Timeline. Making a good choice is based on thoughtful answers to 3 questions versus a quick reaction as a given right to follow their own sense of direction and belonging.
The climax of the story is to discover a super power tool that respects the passage of time … past, present and future … as a simple exercise to enact in immediate situations to help make a smart choice in respect to Time itself.
It answers the early question:
What would you do differently if you had the choice of seeing the future?
In conclusion, it has taken getting older, to value time as my most precious resource in the time remaining. All I can pass is the message to our young people to hold time as precious, not to waste it but fulfill its potential. Goodness knows, we need all the energy and inspiration of young people to make a better world for us and Nature.
Your experiences, with or without teenagers, and comments about the passage of time are important to share and learn from.
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“They buy into the electronic Hall of Mirrors where everyone is watching and comparing themselves, trying to find some piece of wisdom in a crowd or mob, not sure how not to stop suckling from an alternative reality not their own…
One Selfie swipe will instantly show me images and words with as brief an engagement as I wish. There is no debate; it’s not a relationship. It can show me ignorance, intimidation or threats, bombast, or absolute fakery. It is normal to favor only cosmetic standards with plastic interventions and sensational spectacles where regular common everyday things and people no longer matter.
Is this what communication has flat lined to … short term attention spans, immediate reaction, fear and anxiety and judgment calls without facts”
Excerpts: Teen Girl Faces time in the Sand: Social Media Struggles, Regrets and Survival with Super Power Tool