Facebook, Teenage Sexuality and the Wisdom of Old People


One of the articles for this issue was inspired by a provocative blog entry written by Ferret Steinmetz (www.theferret.com) called “Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Awesome Sex”.   This blog entry has been making the rounds on Facebook.  As I say in Teaching Teens about Awesome Sex (this issue), there is much about Steinmetz’ post that I like.  But we disagree on one basic point, and that is, what it means to have “good” sex.  For Steinmetz, good sex is about fun.  For me, good sex is about intimacy and union.  There is a big difference.  And it’s something that we must teach our teens.

Another Facebook post caught my eye.  It was a film snippet – who would have guessed – of Craig Ferguson, the late night talk show host, talking about how it is that we came to glorify the values of youth.   Ferguson notes that during the 60’s, marketing executives began to target for products toward youth.  As a result, Ferguson says, we began to deify youth.  People began to value the qualities of youth rather than experience.  According to Ferguson, “the deification of youth evolved and turned into the deification of imbecility.  It became fashionable and desirable to be young and to be stupid”.  Ferguson is certainly on to something here.   The deification of youth brings with it the diminishment of age and wisdom.  We no longer believe that older people have anything wise to say to young people.  Old people are “out of touch”.

Didn’t know Ferguson had it in ‘em!  But his wisdom here is especially appropriate when it comes to matters of sexuality. Young people are naturally interested and curious about sex.  They tend to value pleasure, status, conquest and amusement.   It is difficult for young people to imagine how casual sex might affect their relationships as they grow older. However, because our society has little use for older people, it is easy for young people to disregard their sage advice.  Yes, young people have always had a penchant to ignore the old folks.  But there are traditions in which the wisdom of age is respected.  However, because we embrace the value of youth over experience, experience, there is no reason to trust the experience and wisdom that come with age.  Youth is, as they say, wasted on the young.