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21 March 2013

A heartless generation?

A heartless generation?

The latest British Attitudes Survey suggests that the younger generation is a heartless one, which cares little about wider society. We asked Jerry Beatson, a 15-year-old from Thames Christian College, to respond.

Does this generation of young people care only about themselves and their family and not about wider society and its issues?  The total percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds who already use social media is at a staggering 98 per cent. You start to wonder, has the online social community warped young people's perceptions of what community is? Are young people neglecting their physical real life communities for a virtual community? Love your neighbour as yourself is one of the most recited parts of scripture, but as Facebook and Twitter are now considered part of life, in the modern age, technology has advanced to the point that you can have your whole neighbourhood in your hands.

The importance of physical interaction is being overlooked; the virtual community has caused young people to lose their sense of community. Young Christians are struggling to find a place for their community in their modern lives. What do young people care if their youth centre is vandalised? They can just host a meeting online. This type of thinking leads you to question whether young people care about their local communities and if anything concerns them in the wider world. 

In 2011, nearly three million adults aged between 20 and 34 were living with a parent or parents, the greatest proportion of this group are aged 20 to 24. It seems like young people have a reduced sense of responsibility both of the wider world and their local communities. Whether or not this shift in community relations is good or bad remains to be seen.

'What's in it for me?' is a developing sentiment in young people. Some argue that this is all that motivates the younger generation today. But I believe that this is the wrong way to live.

Matthew 5:41 says this: "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."

It encourages us to be motivated not only by what will benefit us but to act to the benefit of others in our community. This way of viewing life stems from young people gradually losing interest in traditional ideas of community and in turn feeling less connection to society. It is wrong to live life for only yourself and your family because the Bible teaches us to live in community with others through fellowship, hospitality, love, kindness and the willingness to help one another. These qualities all define us as Christians and as a community.

Around 48 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds disagreed that it is important to get to know your neighbours, according to the British Social Attitudes Survey.

These figures imply a shift in the way young people interact with their community, and as we have seen, technology is a main factor in this shift whether for the better or worse.

A new generation is forging a new type of community that I believe has potential to develop into a functional and God-fearing system tied to the roots of the traditional ideas of community but inspired by the influence of new technology and new modern ideas.

I believe if an institution as old as the Church can change and adapt in this world then we can develop and adapt our community.