There is no group in society stereotyped more than young people. You can’t open a newspaper without reading a story about the young being unemployed, uneducated or depressed but other than making convenient news filler could all this negativity be causing longer lasting damage on our countries young minds?
Psychologist have found that negative preconceptions of social groups can have a devastating effect on their cognitive abilities.
The term ‘Stereotype Threat’ was first used by Steele and Aronson (1995) who showed in several experiments that Black college freshmen and sophomores performed more poorly on standardised tests than White students when their race was emphasized. When race was not emphasized, however, Black students performed better and equivalently with White students.
Unfortunately, many of these negative stereotypes have become amplified in the digital age and so more young people are falling foul of these poor social expectations. Facebook has become a personalised soap opera; you can now drop in on your dysfunctional ‘friends’ drinking themselves silly and falling away from society at any time of day and like a social virus it spreads creating a defeatist/unambitious mentality amongst anybody it comes in contact with.
“Once you label me you negate me.” ― Søren Kierkegaard
The only way we can tackle this epidemic of negativity is to destroy the stereotype. Young people need to shout about their successes, share their learning’s and work hard towards becoming chronic optimists.
We are all part of each other’s emotional tool kits and in order to avoid becoming paralysed by our social expectation, we need to ditch the daily downbeat propaganda and surround ourselves with those who believe they have the ability to create change, nourish our minds and create a life worth living outside of the stereotype.