When you wake up in the morning, make your coffee and maybe turn on your television, scroll through the Internet, or look at what’s in today’s newspaper, there’s a good chance you’ll see something on one of those days about the attention span of young people.
You might see some article or a news package about how young people spend too much time on their phones or how young people play too many video-games or don’t treat people with respect. And sadly, that is true for many of them.
But at the heart of that are the things that young people spend their energy and resources on, or rather, what they don’t spend it on.
I remember riding the bus home during one day of my senior year of high school. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but I was talking to someone about something that had happened in the news. After a while, she said: “I don’t ever watch the news.”
And when I asked her why, she said: “Because none of it concerns me.”
I feel like this is the greatest misconception young people make nowadays. Now, I understand why many people wouldn’t pay attention to current events. Who wants to be constantly bombarded by mass shootings, wars, poverty, famine and a divided country?
Yes, we like good things. But if we ignore the bad things, we are ignoring reality. And that is something that just can’t be done.
Since that day on the bus, I’ve attempted to steer people of my generation to care a little more about the world around them—because it does concern them. It concerns their families, their money, their very futures.
I am here to show the world that there are young people out there that do understand and care about what’s going on besides what the latest celebrity divorce is.
I am not just some crazy kid who’s going to come on here and blast you with my thoughts of our age’s most intense issues. My views will be carefully planned, well researched, politically balanced and my own. But who am I?
My name is Luke M. Parsnow. I am 22 years old and I am currently a copy editor and page designer for The Post-Star, a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily publication in Glens Falls, New York.
I have been a writer since I can really remember. I had always enjoyed stories and they were constantly around me, whether they were the books like the Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series, A Series of Unfortunate Events or The Hardy Boys, or old radio dramas like CBS Radio Mystery Theater, The Twilight Zone or Suspense.
While many of the people my age were playing game boys, I wrote my first novel at the age of 10, a 94-page mystery. Seven novels have followed since then, all unpublished of course. They were merely for my own amusement.
I was raised in an old fashioned way, in that I listened to different music, listened and talked to elders, and learned that other people make life worth living. I grew up in a house on a dirt road in the woods with no video games, no Internet or cable still to this day, and I walked across the road every Christmas to chop down an Evergreen and drag it back to the house to decorate. Most people would say that I was “restricted.” I rather think I was “lucky.”
I was interested in different things than most people my age. I watched more documentaries than movies. I watched more Star Trek than Disney. I had barometers and thermometers all over my bedroom and kept my own personal weather almanac for a while. I wrote in a journal—every single day for almost seven years. I had a large replica of the Declaration of Independence on my wall instead of band posters. And instead of building snowmen outside during the winter, I “played” Valley Forge.
I always watched the news with my parents. I really became interested in politics and the world during the 2008 presidential campaign season, and the Great Recession that was beginning at the same time. I realized, almost accidentally, that these things concerned me, and suddenly I was hooked.
I graduated from the State University of Oswego in May with a BA in creative writing and journalism, and a minor in history with a concentration in American history. I was extremely fortunate to be offered a job just 14 days after graduation. And now, I am part of that world that concerns me and that I care about.
While you read or watch these stories about the “inattentive youth” while you drink your morning coffee, do you wonder how the young people view today’s current events that will someday be in history books? I do. Some day it will be members of my generation that run for president or run for Congress. It will be members of my generation that teach children how to read and write. It will be members of my generation that run the police, fire departments, hospitals, and make the scientific discoveries that cure diseases, find new energies and save lives.
But the only way we can do that is by paying attention to the things that matter. We live in a time where the nation is still suffering from the worst economic crisis in generations, where technology is beneficial and dangerous, where a new president will be elected in a little more than a year, where hard times keep many from going to college, finding employment, paying the bills, and pursuing their dreams. These are the things that matter in our time. These are the things we must pay attention to and nourish. Turning a blind eye and deaf ear to them will only hurt us in the end.
So there’s that. Let’s get on with it. To quote Davy Crockett on his inaugural speech to Congress, “the next time I get up before ya, I’II have something to say worth saying.”