The world we live in is void of innocence…plain & simple. Just flip the flat screen or smart phone on…take a glance at the news…switch on your ipod or itunes store…heck…just take a stroll in the mall and watch culture unfold before your very eyes. There’s not much innocence left in our world. Provocative attire, violence and chaos, disillusioned worldviews from celebrities & world influencers…and that’s just on Global, Teletoon and TVO!
I might be over-exaggerating a little, but today’s culture is definitely exposed to a much broader range of in-your-face social messages vying for our attention…especially with Gen Z. As the parent of a 9, 7, and 2-year-old, although I embrace the advances of technology and culture, I also feel a nervous tension of the world of change, expectations and exposure awaiting my kids. Our 9 year-old daughter is already gradually entering the stage of laying aside her dolls, stuffed animals and lego…and gravitating increasingly towards the world of ipods, fashion…and yes…boys! She still has a solid level of innocence within her, but with each passing week of exposure to social media, school, friends and the world-at-large, that innocence begins to subtly erode away.
So at what point did we start to, somewhat, loose our little girl?
Today I read a post from Jonathan McKee addressing this very question. His post, Tossing Aside Innocence…in 1954, is a reflection of a visit he took to a local art museum, and upon viewing a particular painting, blogged about his observations. The painting was Norman Rockwell’s 1954 classic simply named Girl at Mirror (above). It’s a great piece of art for youth and parents to reflect on with each other about the struggle young girls face (and boys too) face when innocence intersects with increased cultural exposure & pressure.
Notice her fragile hands, the tossed aside doll, the open magazine with the ‘mature’ model, the beauty accessories beside her…all precursors of the conflict and tension that resides within young people as they break out of their sheltered innocence, and enter the arena of self-perception and the battle for self-esteem. And if Rockwell captured the plight and tension of young girls in 1954, how much more have those tensions ramped up in our digital and social media-driven age of no-innocence?
What are your thoughts as you sit back and gaze into this timeless snap shot of culture in motion?