Home > Uncategorized > Here’s What’s Happening in SOME American Teenage Bedrooms— And It Isn’t Good News to this Geezer

Here’s What’s Happening in SOME American Teenage Bedrooms— And It Isn’t Good News to this Geezer

December 2, 2019

I just finished reading a recent NYTimes article by Taylor Lorenz titled “Here’s What’s Happening in the American Teenage Bedroom“… and I am in despair if this is the way American teenagers are defining “success”. The article describes a 15 year old suburban Philadelphia teenager named Rowan Winch who is making $10,000 a month through various on-line entrepreneurial undertakings. But, as the article notes, Rowan Winch is not interested in money.

Rowan, like most teenagers on the internet, wasn’t after fame or money, though he made a decent amount — at one point $10,000 a month and more, he said. What Rowan wanted was clout.

On the internet, clout is a social currency that can be used to obtain just about anything. Rack up enough while you’re young, and doors everywhere begin to open. College recruiters notice you. Job opportunities and internships come your way. Your social status among peers rises, money flows in. Even fame becomes a possibility, if that’s what you’re after.

The description of Rowan Winch ceaselessly entering posts on his phone brought to mind scenes from the movie Social Network, based on the “life story” of the role-model of all tech geeks Mark Zuckerberg. And based on what I’ve read about Mr. Zuckerberg, he, too, was after clout more than he was after wealth or fame.

I find the quest for clout even more distressing and disturbing than the quest for money or fame… for “clout” seems to be an anodyne tech term for POWER… and those who seek clout— like those who seek power— are not interested in the ends of power, only the acquisition of it. And the notion that someone who spends hours on end staring at screens, searching for memes that attract clicks from others, trying to accumulate “clout” strikes me as a soulless undertaking.

One of the story lines in the article was how Instagram suspended one of Rowan Winch’s most popular sites, leaving him temporarily bereft. He showed resilience, though… with a plan to replace his blocked Instagram site with a YouTube site. Here’s his explanation of why, which concludes the story:

“With YouTube I want to get big enough so the people that inspired me are my friends. It was like that with my meme pages,” he said.

“The more followers you have, the more voice you have,” he said. “The more clout you have, the more power you have.”

When a teenager believes “followers” are “friends” it is evident we need to increase social-emotional learning in schools.


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