This Sunday I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with a tremendous group of young people who form the Teen Committee for Hanna4Hope. Hanna4Hope is an organization formed by the Tim and Raina Clark to bring awareness to the issue of teen suicide following the death of their daughter Hanna on April 25, 2013. Some of these kids knew Hanna, some did not. They are all bold and courageous hearts. They meet once each month and serve as ambassadors to their schools and communities. Take a moment to look at their website and see what they are doing.
Tim and Raina, thank you for inviting me into your home. It means more than you know (actually, you probably do know). And you kids. Wow! What a lively, articulate, and intelligent bunch. You are as great a group of kids as one could imagine.
I learned several things. The most striking is this: preaching about the dangers of social media to this generation is not going to work. These kids get enough of it, and perhaps more than any other generation they are determined to make up their own minds. This generation views itself as the experts on social media — and surely in many respects they are. At the same time I sense that this expertise has a rather narrow focus. It feels a little like the expertise of a kid who goes into a candy store. That kid knows exactly where all the candy is. He knows what candy he likes, and where to find it. He’s an expert, right? I’m not so convinced.
Young people, challenge yourselves to take this on. As I said, this is a central issue of your generation. The grownups just aren’t going to take this discussion where it needs to go — at least not without your help. After our chat, I came away believing more than ever that this conversation needs a breadth and depth that I just don’t see many places. It needs to include technology, legal, and mental health components — all presented against the backdrop of the human person as a being that craves connections.
So what do we do? We all keep talking.
Hanna4Hope, thank you for your witness and leadership. This kind of two-way inter-generational conversation is the key, and it simply cannot happen too much.