“What’s wrong with today’s youth?” Something every old-fogey person says. WELL I GET IT NOW.
I have finally gotten old enough that I think kids are growing up too quickly. The fact that it has gotten difficult to distinguish the difference between a 16 year old and a 22 year old is wild to me. We could sit here and talk about why that is for ages but that is not that point here. (yes, I’m about to get to it.)
When I compare a photo of 15 year old me to the 15 year olds (which I swear are SO tall) I see walking to the school by my house, it seems so obvious what is missing. So many of the kids now are missing out on their emo phase.
The part of life we look back at and think about how dramatic we were. The graphic Ts, the Etnies and above all- the music, it was all so loud. I don’t say loud negatively. I think kids SHOULD be loud. Kids want to be heard and back in the day, this made us feel heard. A “scene” just to feel your teen feelings.
Let me tell you why they need an emo phase. It’s crucial for emotional development. It gave so many of us a safe space to feel our feelings no matter how hardcore they were about something. Between the music to scream and cry to and clothes to express ourselves each day, it secretly taught us how to communicate our feelings. If we don’t act quick, this generation of teenagers might miss the boat entirely and become emotionally constipated adults. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. You probably had an actual person flash into your head when you read that- or at least now you do.
Puberty is such an anxious time. You start discovering what feeling self-conscious is like, peer pressure, having to interact with other kids who are also just heated and angsty. Throw in trying to attend school during a pandemic, being expected to hold interest in the heated political atmosphere around them when they can’t even vote yet and the slew of other injustices happening around them- it’s safe to say they have a lot to deal with.
You had a lot to deal with too, remember that? What helped? Being a little emo about it! Coming home from school to find MTV streaming the new Blink182 music video was the perfect end to your emotionally fueled day.
Now I’m getting out my cane and asking what is up with the clothes! Kids dress the same as adults now. Fun items aren’t trendy anymore- wearing a matching yoga set as your mom is. Which hey, nothing wrong with that but I definitely appreciate my clothes more after wearing Hot Topic T’s that didn’t age well. Dressing emo is way more fun than what I see the kiddos sporting these days. Checkered outfits, heavy eyeliner, colorful lipstick and chunky armored bracelets were all essentials. Essentials that also made it clear that the hooligans you see are just kids being kids. (Do you ever catch yourself wondering: ‘hmmm, normal pubescent teenager energy or drunk 22 year old?’)
I like to think it taught me how to be loyal to a band. This kind of music loyalty is GONE. Cancel culture is at an all time high with no room for mistakes from your favorite people. Not to mention every kid on TikTok thinks Travis Barker needs to give them a record deal. The quantity of music is at a high but quality isn’t. This is making young listeners less loyal.
Emo bands bare their bones to you. Their albums might take more time to release but they are fueled by the emotional trauma the artist is living through- that kind of depth is worth the wait! Patience is a virtue being lost with how instantly we can receive everything now. Art is crafted, not manufactured. Give your kids art to listen to. EMO ART!
Not to be this person… but I am. Remember when artists could actually play instruments? In this mix of INCREDIBLE talent these days, there are just as many, if not more, of the cookie-cutter cuties than can hum a tune. The worst part is when you pay money to see these people and then they don’t even pick up an instrument during the show! Going to concerts with actual instruments is a huge plus to the emo phase.
The first time you get to make eye contact with the bassist (or whoever) while they are just in the zone is pure adrenaline. Talk about feeling connected to an audience. Cool visualizers Top 40 artists do are fun but nothing makes you melt into a song like watching an artist truly in their element performing a song they poured everything into. You won’t find the band sitting behind a wall or stuck in an orchestra pit at a punk show.
Putting all they got into music is why the end product is so relatable. It seems so obvious when a song wasn’t written by an artist or required 10 other writers. When that happens, the lyrics feel less genuine and the connection isn’t there. The youth need more things that are FOR THEM. Not written for adults and then given to them to run with. Bring back break up songs about feeling too much, songs about your first date and ones about moving out from your parents house. The high school boys up the street are definitely not relating to the lyrics I heard busting out their bedroom the other day.
Let’s not also forget that friendships are fundamental to a child’s experience growing up. Emo friends are lifelong friends. You share too much together to ever let it go, they probably could blackmail your butt with all you’ve bared over the years.
And when your friends aren’t around- who was there for you? Emo music. It’s a musical support system. MCR was there for the pain, Blink182 to help you through growing up, dashboard confessional for the heartbreak. Friends can’t be there at the literal drop of a dime but thanks to technology, music can.
Finally, you need an awkward phase to give you more room to be a kid. To be weird and find your interests. Being emo-weird is the kind that allows for that exploration. To process your emotions which are out of control in high school- everything can seem like the end of the world. Plus, when you’re dressing and acting punk, it’s going to give you a lot of great throwback pics to laugh at later.
Let’s be real, everyone kind of wants an “embarrassing’ childhood photo to share every now and again. If every photo taken was manufactured for Instagram then we’d never have any real history to show.
There is nothing actually wrong with the kiddos of now, but I am finally old enough I can start comparing the then and now. Old folks of the 90’s now are makin’ a lot of sense. Will one generation ever actually listen just enough from their elders to learn some lessons the easy way? Nope, but that’s because stubborn a**holes like us keep procreating other hard headed rugrats. So if you want your kids to finally listen to you and bring the emo revival, maybe in turn we need to listen to them sometimes too.
Dessert for dinner? Sure. Put on your Vans and fingerless gloves before you come downstairs to eat.