Authorities for teenagers

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April 17, 2011 by Kuma

What kind of role do role models play in young people’s lives? Who is more often than not a figure of authority for teenagers?

So, first I asked my mum about it – who was her role model when she was fifteen or sixteen years old. She thought for a minute and said than in those times there wasn’t someone who could be an authority. For her and her peers, the parents or one of the parents was the most important and the smartest person in the world. The only person they could take an exemple from. Sometimes some teacher or older sister or brother but then access to popular people, actors or singers was limited. TV, as my mum said, showed only Gierek or Jaruleski but calling them ‘authorities’ isn’t, I think, possible. Later was Wałęsa but – later. When my mum was going to the last class of primary school the only authorities were her parents or her Polish teacher.

Now everything has changed. Access to popular people isn’t limited and we can almost identify with them. We can choose – from young Disney stars to John Paul II. We’re free people and we can decide about our priorities, values or aims. We can also decide who we want to follow.

But, first of all, we have to remember that a role model isn’t the same thing as an idol. Of course, our idol can be our role model or the other way around, but it’s not a rule. The worst thing is that usually people don’t understand this difference. When they listen to some singer they immediately consider them as their role model, they don’t know anything about them, they know them only from their stage-side and, seems, it’s enough. But it’s not. We can’t consider somebody as our role-model – a person that we can imitate, take an example from– just because he sang a good song. It doesn’t work like that! A role model should have something that fascinates us, that we can imitate and that we admire. I don’t mean – songs or films in which he played, but values or behaviour.

‘Accomplishments on the stage or in front of a camera don’t prove a man, don’t say anything about him, so how can a human like him be an example? It’s funny – kids who  stare at the pop-star on the poster, almost praying to him and saying: I wanna be like him/her. What do they see in him? Only that what he said about himself.’ That was an authentic forum post I read. I think I agree with this. Of course there’s also pop-star’s behaviour – I mean, charities or something like that. But we’ll never know all the truth about this person.

Of course it doesn’t mean that a pop-star can’t be our role-model but, please, don’t forget about the difference between role-model and idol.

Now teenagers love teen pop-stars. Why? I think that they can just identify with them, they watch them and their life seems like some kind of a dream come true. They see themselves in those teen-pop-stars. They can believe that fame is possible and everyone can be famous – and it’s not important how old you are or where you are from– the only thing which is very… no, the most important, is talent. That’s why such a lot of young people have got role models like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, or Daniel Radcliffe. Because they aren’t adults – the world, Hollywood is full of adult, famous people.

But this doesn’t mean that taking the example from teen-pop-stars is the rule. In surveys people – also teenagers – often choose John Paul II and, rarely, their own parents. I don’t know how much truth is in those answers – especially in those about JPII because, in fact, the Pope is very, very ‘fashionable’ today. Parents? Nice but they aren’t such an authority as earlier and I really don’t know why. Maybe because, like I said earlier, in present times, young people prefer peers, not parents. Maybe parents are old-fashioned now? Or maybe teenagers are more susceptible than earlier and such ‘cool’ peers are more important and fun than boring parents (or other adults) who only give bans and bad (at least in our, teenage, opinion) advice. And maybe young people just want somebody who, like Kuba Wojewódzki (he was choosen by teenagers as a role model last year) has got a ‘voice’, who can loudly say everything they want to say but they can’t do this or their voice isn’t important enough to be observed.

I think – it doesn’t matter whoour authority is . We just have to answer these very important questions: what is the most significant thing for us in our lives? What aims do we have? And… why do we choose actually this person for our role model? Are we not confusing him with an idol?

Because – even if it doesn’t seem like that – role models are very important in life.

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