On an old blog I used to write, I would occasionally publish a WTFriday post where I would call out some patently absurd news story floating around the internet. And today, I saw one that inspired me to revive that practice. “The Death of American Malls is Going to Reshape the Teen Experience in America.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. My teen years were shaped by excursions to the local mall as a way to get the hell away from whatever was happening at my house at the time. And yes, we hung out with our friends, looked at all the merchandise and things to buy, tried on clothes to see if they matched with who we thought we were becoming at the time, and even provided some jobs of the minimum-wage sort.
I can think of a lot of places I would rather have been than the mall. The mall was a huge reminder of all the things I didn’t have – money, privilege, a driver’s license. Going to the mall every weekend was just an escape, a numbing out of the difficult emotions I felt, and in many cases, left me feeling more frustrated and even more depressed when I returned home.
So I can think of a million reasons why we would want to reshape the teen experience in America.
First of all, how about we get more involved with our kids? I know, I’m speaking about something that is pretty unlikely or maybe even impossible because parents these days have to be wage slaves just to make ends meet and make sure they and their kids even SURVIVE teenagehood. (Yes, I made up that word. It fits.)
I have an acquaintance who was always bitching about her son when he was a teenager – he didn’t have a driver’s license, but he wanted to do things on the weekends, like go hang out with his friends and get outside and go to sporting events at school. But his mother was always complaining about how he asked her to drive him everywhere and she, in her own words, didn’t want to take him because she wanted to “stay home and drink and smoke all weekend”.
Just before graduation, her son got busted for breaking into houses and stealing stereos. A few years after he graduated from basic training in the armed forces, he got colossally drunk and wound up being transported by helicopter to a trauma unit in the next state. He nearly died because of his injuries, and he’s damn lucky he didn’t take out anyone else.
Now, I’m not saying that there is a definitive link here between these two things, but it sure as hell seems to jump right out at me.
Second of all, how about we get our kids outside in nature more, and away from the cray cray consumer driven society we’ve created that is currently destroying every square inch of our planet and our humanity? Hey, instead of shopping for another fucking plastic piece of trash, let’s take our kids outside so they understand their connection to the world and maybe even give them a tiny little taste of cosmology. Even if it just means getting your kids to a park where they can sit on 10 square feet of green grass under ONE scrawny tree, do it. Breathe the air, feel the sun, notice the wind on your skin… I can think of a million times when I should have been outdoors instead of at the fucking mall.
And finally, how about we teach our kids more things like art and music and the value of creating things with our hands? Before I hit my teenage years, I spent lots of time going to art classes, baton twirling lessons (shut the fuck up!), and violin lessons. My mother and my grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet. I explored all kinds of art and handcrafts with other people and on my own, and it wasn’t until I got into my late 20s that I re-discovered how good it felt to connect with people who shared the same interests in creating and crafting and art.
So, is this really the death of the American mall? Lord knows, I hope so. Don’t give me any bullshit about “the economy” or yadda yadda yadda. I got news for you: our whole economy, our society, our WORLD is about to get turned upside down, in case you didn’t notice, so let’s get ready for a new kind of energy to shift into place. Let’s let go of the old consumer-driven models of teenagehood (there’s that word again) and replace it with something that will actually prepare our kids to be bright, beautiful, and soulful beings!
What do you think about the death of the American mall: is it the end of Society As We Know It, or is this our opportunity to usher in a new, better way of growing up in this country? Share your thoughts, leave a comment!