The Sunday Times last weekend brought good news for social conservatives: the younger generations are moving beyond the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll culture. It wasn’t ages ago that some young people were dying during the Neknomination craze, but now we have clear signs this is increasingly just a minority of people in our cities.
The first thing humans do with change is try to find an explanation. We really don’t like to just sit back and enjoy things.
So Whitehall officials concluded that it must be because there are quite a lot of Muslim young people in the country and “They may be more socially conservative and having an influence on their peers.” If this was evidence-based I think it would makes sense but it was not.
I find it unconvincing and I will remain unconvinced until enough young people tell me “I was so inspired by my Muslim friends and their values, even if I don’t share the source of those values, that I have changed my behaviour”.
I wonder where this Government source came from because, where I grew up, if you were “a prude” you would bring upon yourself endless abuse, but if you were “a prude” for religious reasons you’d get a double serving for being a “religious nut”.
The peer pressure in my days was the other way around, and I would expect the best case scenario even today to simply be you go your way and we go ours because we like our drunken sex in the toilet of a club.
I have countless anecdotal experience of spiked soft drinks without the drinker’s consent because you can’t possibly be at a party and drink Coke. Even once old enough to drive, which would give a legitimate excuse for abstinence, you would be subject to attempts to get you drunk in complete disregard for the law and your own safety.
As for sex, don’t even get me started. If you were lucky enough that nobody forced themselves in any way onto you, there was still a huge amount of pressure and emotional manipulation going on. And the worst part of it all, a lot came from other women.
It is as if they had to get everyone to conform to what they were doing because they weren’t entirely sure themselves that it was the right thing to do.
This is just the experience of someone who grew up under the banner of feminism only to discover that the oh-so-independent and never married career woman embodied by my aunt was in fact lonely and getting herself busy with things to do to make up for it. And the have-it-all working mother regretted not staying home with both of her children and thought the problems my brother and I went through in our teenage years were a consequence of this. She felt guilty and responsible about it.
Whoever was touched by modern feminism ideals around me was left deeply sad.
I have no statistics or studies but it is just a suggestion of something else that might be going on.
What if peer pressure has got nothing to do with this change? What if these new socially conservative teenagers simply realised the previous generations were sold a pipe dream of happiness and liberation was key, whether it was casual sex or socialising over a lot of drinks because “how can you have fun otherwise” and how normal life is boring and we need to escape it?
What if the illusions created by our society’s obsession with consumerism that underlies a lot of this socially liberal behaviour are fading away?
It doesn’t take much to see how many of the previous generation either took a U-turn and settled down or reached their 30s unfulfilled and unhappy. A few may be carrying on the selfish individualism out of genuine desire, but as far as anecdotal evidence goes, again I suspect many have woken up to the lies we were told.
We are their older brothers and sisters, and this younger generation looked up to us all their lives. They see where our generation is heading and do not like it. We should not be surprised if they do not want to repeat our mistakes.