My daughter just graduated from high school this weekend, and she will head to college in the fall, departing my sphere of influence. My son is finishing sixth grade, and will hang on to the Dad payroll for quite a while longer. It is his contemporaries that are starting to really worry me, the little 11 and 12 year-olds that shouldn't have a care in the world. Sadly, there are young kids in my son's class, boys as well as girls, that are incredibly concerned with what others think and say about them. It is very important to be "cool". These days, being "cool" involves not eating, not studying, not listening, showing no respect, and generally not doing anything they should be doing. The consequences of all this for these children's health are the most frightening aspect of the whole mess. When I hear a 12-year-old boy say that he can't drink a glass of milk because it might make him fat, I throw up my hands in horror. Enough is enough, people!
I propose a new campaign to fight this horrible trend, "Cool is for Losers!" When you get right down to it, being "cool" just means that you are doing stuff that makes you popular, but might not necessarily be smart or good for you. Starving yourself, smoking whatever, drinking, doing drugs, piercing various body parts, dressing like a prostitute, dressing like a convict (the droopy drawers look originated with prisoners who wanted to, ummmm, advertise their backside wares to fellow inmates), and so on and so on and so on. A real classy way to act, huh?
Why is it so important to be cool anyway? We've all been teenagers recently (ha!) and we all know the insecurities involved in that age group. To be accepted is more important than being healthy, or looking like a human being. But those whose entire goal in life is to be "cool" are more likely than not those who are petrified that they won't fit in with the "in" crowd. While they might make themselves popular with one tiny subset of society, they ruin their reputation with everyone else, and may cause irreparable physical or psychological harm to themselves. To put it quite bluntly, it is the "losers" that try so terribly hard to be cool, and conversely, the attempt to be "cool" can make these kids losers.
I'm no psychiatrist, and I can't begin to find the solution for all of this. However, sometimes just a catchy phrase will get things started. So, spread the word among the young folks in your lives: "Cool is for Losers!" It might actually make them think about the weird things they're doing, which is at least a step in the right direction.