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HomeNewsLaura Keynes: Thrill-seeking youngsters expose the emptiness of their everyday lives

Laura Keynes: Thrill-seeking youngsters expose the emptiness of their everyday lives


Sad reports of a young British woman who died while bungee jumping in Spain highlights a growing concern for parents. The 23-year-old allegedly hit the side of the bridge she jumped from and died from head injuries whilst still attached to the bungee cord. It comes less than a month after another young woman died in similar circumstances in France.

I’m on holiday at the moment – a family holiday with a mix of generations – and only last night the young people round the dinner table were discussing their various bungee jumping exploits in exotic locations. There wasn’t a single one who hadn’t done it. “But why?” asked members of the older generations. It was baffling to us why anyone would want to throw themselves off a platform or bridge, at such considerable risk to life and limb, just for the pure hell of it.

“It’s the adrenaline rush”, they all said – as if that explained it.

What does it say about our culture and society in general if young people think they’re only really living when they’re almost dying? This is a generation so unable to find excitement in ordinary reality that they feel compelled to seek thrills in extreme sports, as if they will only find validation from extreme experiences.

I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that every travel programme on telly these days has to include the presenter doing some crazy stunt like bungee jumping. The BBC’s awful cringe-inducingly vacuous travel presenter Simon Reeve is a case in point: his focus is not so much on communicating the beauty of different cultures but on giving us ‘his experience’, as if one individual’s ‘experience’ is the only reason to go travelling.

Too many young people think like him, and far too many parents are happy to condone extreme activities like bungee jumping with excuses such as, ‘It’s just young people getting it out of their system’.

If my kids were to express a desire to go bungee jumping I’d be extremely concerned, and wonder why their experience of ordinary life had become so dulled and blunted that they felt the need for an ‘adrenaline rush’. I’d also be inclined to ask questions about peer pressure, if this is something every young person feels they must now do to earn validation from their peers. With the holiday season upon us, parents should be putting out strong messages that this isn’t an acceptable activity.

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Laura Keynes
Laura Keynes
Dr Keynes is a Cambridge-based academic, writer and critic with two very young children. She writes for Standpoint magazine, the Catholic Herald and The Tablet. Find her on twitter @LMKeynes.

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