let’s face it: the united states hasn’t been leading most international youth trends for many years (which is an interesting sociological question, since it is almost universally agreed that the u.s. is responsible for creating youth culture). don’t get me wrong — this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. i’m not lamenting this fact, nor suggesting anything other than where we ought to look to see what’s coming down the pike.
for a decade or so, it seems we’ve looked to the u.k., primarily, and some other european cultural centers (copenhagen, paris, and so on) for clues about youth culture in a few more years. (btw, i think we do this within the states also, as we look to nyc and los angeles teens for cues that will often trickle down to other parts of the states in the following year or two.)
well, it’s time for change.
it’s time to acknowledge, i believe, that asia has surpassed europe as the precurser of things to come, in many (not all) ways. watch this video of facts, but together by paul mcgregor for mtv asia (ht to anastasia at ypulse), then i’ll resume my ramblings…
i don’t think technology is the only thing driving this shift — i say that pre-emptively, with the assumption that some would suggest just that. and i DO think the implications are going to land on much more than youth culture. i blogged a year ago about a short talk i was asked to give on the “the world in 10 years” for the youth ministry executive council. i referenced daniel pink’s book, a whole new mind, (which i blogged about here, and here, among other places), and wrote this:
A few facts from the book:
– Each year, universities and colleges in India produce 350,000 new engineering graduates.
– Half of the Fortune 500 companies now outsource to India.
– 1 out of 10 IT job will move overseas (to Asia) in the next 2 years; 1 out of 4 by 2010.
Our issue isn’t the outsourcing of jobs, of course.
But what will it mean for our affluent and resourced churches and youth ministries when our country, religiously, looks more like Europe, and the thriving, model-creating influence in the church is coming from Asia? Will be have the humility to learn and grow?
so here’s a few truly from-the-hip thoughts rolling around in my head at this moment:
– the rise of asian youth culture as a world influencer (and, in some ways, a “snapshot of the future”) is being accelerated by population. another way of saying this: the u.s. played a role in creating youth culture, in part, because we had a crazy number of youth. that’s asia now; and, even, 100-fold moreso.
– it will be very interesting to see how cultural prejudices play into all of this. for instance, american stereotypes of british youth have them as hip and edgy, rockers and ravers, full of attitude and independance. american stereotypes of asian youth have them as techno-hip geeks (guys) or techno-hip animaetrixes (girls) (ooh, did i just make up a word?). will these stereotypes be compounded or dismantled? will an asian dominance in the globalized youth culture force a shift in our perceptions and stereotypes to something more self-selected by asian teens themselves?
– as i wrote above: will americans, and, particularly, american church leaders, have the humility to be led? let’s face it: americans like to lead, not follow. are we ready to follow, with humility? my skeptical hunch: we will be forced to acknowledge some models, theologies and approaches, but will (i’m speaking especially of the church here) rush to identify those we want to “claim” as our influence, thereby retaining power and control; and, in doing so, will only select those influences that most reflect our own values.
– if asian youth culture becomes more globally dominant, as i’m suggesting, how will the tension of youthful independance and asian family loyalty (there’s a name for this, and i’m blanking on it) play out in american (and european) contexts?
a related post:
explosion of youth cultures around the world