Does anyone know the Big Shaq song “Man’s Not Hot”? Do you understand it at all? What is he SAYING? Never heard of it at all? I like to think of myself as a semi-cool parent, but I just don’t get it. He’s wearing a big winter coat on a beach in Miami saying he’s not warm enough to remove his lovely jacket. And then he exclaims ‘skkrrrra-pop-pop’ (roll your r’s on the skrrrr). He’s gone from a virtual unknown to nearly 100 million views on YouTube for his video. And apparently, it’s in contention for the Christmas #1 song in the UK this year!!
So although there is much to pontificate regarding the iGeneration that is serious, I’m focusing on the more fun (and challenging) aspect of pre-teens and teens: How do you carry on a conversation with them?
I imagine at some point this holiday season you will find yourself stuck by the tree with some eggnog and a moody, bored teenager opposite you who would rather be sticking needles in their eyes than hanging out with a bunch of old fogeys. Family gatherings at the holidays are ripe for bringing together people with little in common to talk about. And today’s kids are foreigners with their own fads, lingo and trends that make it near impossible to find common ground.
Although we think this digital world is isolating, it’s also connecting in a way that we never had
My daughter told me this morning on the way to school that, yesterday, YouTube just released it’s annual “YouTube Rewind List”. Who knew?! This is a list of all that happened in their world that helped to shape the year. She tells me anyone who is anyone between the ages of 12 and 20 will know this list. It includes rappers, DJ’s, YouTubers, popular songs, fads, challenges, trends, etc. This is an excellent starting point:
But. It is so much more interesting to watch WITH your child as they will be able to explain all the points of reference you don’t get. The video starts with a girl in an orange sweatshirt dancing. “Oh, that’s that girl — she’s famous for her dancing” exclaimed my Child. She went on from there, stopping and starting at every point I didn’t understand or get. “Wait,..you don’t know about ‘The Floor is Lava’?!!?” No, sweetheart…Do you know about Trump’s latest stunner in moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
One of the things that’s so vital as a parent is open lines of communication. But if I shut out everything I see as silly in her world, I’d be clueless to her POV. To me, YouTubers and fads and songs that I have never heard of are trivial, trite and time-wasting. They are not going to change the world. But discussing her interests and seeing things through her eyes will help me to understand how she and her friends think and respond; help me see how they relax and how they are inspired; what makes them laugh or cry.
The YouTubers and DJ’s and videos of her era are the TV-stars, rock stars and movie stars of my era
Every generation has gaps in knowledge that need to be shared both up and down the age groups. My parents would take me to Broadway musicals in New York and in return I would play my Springsteen and Grateful Dead albums to them, explaining their cosmic relevance and likability. They were willing to listen to me and my passions as long as I gave theirs a fair shake. My Child spends about 4 hours/week on social media and Netflix and YouTube. She also competitively swims, plays hockey, rows, sings, plays piano and is a good student. So she’s well-balanced. My point is the YouTubers and DJ’s and videos of her era are the TV-stars, rock stars and movie stars of my era. It’s just a way to relax…and be different than your parents.
I am surprised, though, at how universal these trends are to a certain age group. On holiday last summer in Greece, we had friends from Seattle join us with kids the same age as the Child — 11, 12, and 13 years old. Our Child: Do you know Liza Koshy? Seattle Child: Yah, love her. More recently the Child was texting with a friend in Washington D.C. and discussing Lele Pons, another big YouTuber who is Venezuelan-American, so I’m figuring she has the Latino world as well. And then even more recently, Seattle Child and London Child were discussing Riverdale and how they both have a crush on Jughead (seriously, Jughead?!). Another well-known global YouTuber is an English-speaking Swede, so just another reminder that the digital world has no borders. And there are no time-lapses between country/international release dates that we had growing up. They are all watching the same thing at the same time — globally. I would argue that although we think this digital world is isolating, it’s also connecting in a way that we never had.
And the YouTube Rewind 2017 video shows much more than just Despacito, Ed Sheeran, slime paintball parties and funny dancing. It touched on social issues that were big in 2017 to this generation: the Houston and Puerto Rico hurricanes, the Ariana Grande/Manchester bombing, the Las Vegas shooting, the Vive La France celebrations from Macon’s victory election, the solar eclipse, and more. It’s not just frivolous and non-sensical.
But besides the YouTube Rewind 2017 video, below are a few things I’ve discovered in conversations with my daughter that I thought might be useful. An “IN” and “OUT” List to help you navigate the pre-teens and teens you run into this holiday season. Conversation starters. Granted, they will probably still think you are totally unhip, but at least you might get a nod of appreciation for trying to bridge the gap!
The digital world is confusing for us “first generation” parents and I have definitely made my fair share of mistakes which I will write about, as well as lessons learned. But sitting here at my desk, I turned off my Sia “Everyday Is Christmas” new album I’d been listening to on Spotify and put on Big Shaq’s “Man’s Not Hot” to try to listen to the song through my daughter’s ears. It’s actually a pretty funny and fun song, and after watching the video a few times, I found it definitely grows on you!
THE ‘IN‘ LIST
Liza Koshy – YouTuber — funny, in the opening scene of YouTube Rewind 2017
LeLe Pons – YouTuber — funny, Venezuelan-American, also in the opening scene of YouTube Rewind 2017
PewDiePie – YouTuber — Swedish, funny
Fine Brothers Entertainment — YouTubers, funny, from New York
Lilly Singh — YouTuber, Canadian, also known as ||Superwoman||
Logan Paul and Jake Paul — YouTubers, comedy and vloggers, created “Zoosh”
Marshmallo — huge DJ, also seen in YouTube Rewind 2017 video, he’s the guy dressed all in white with a marshmallow head and black eyes and smile painted on.
Cole Spouse — plays Jughead on TV’s “Riverdale”, a dark version of the old Archie and Jughead, Betty and Veronica comic books.
Slime — if you don’t know what this is, you really are just coming out from under a rock
Fidget spinners — same as Slime, you really should know these
The Floor is Lava — this is a challenge when you are with friends in a store or mall or park and suddenly someone says “the floor is lava” where you have to find ways to stay off the ground. Seen in the YouTube Rewind 2017 video.
Backpack Kid — also on the YouTube Rewind 2017 video, he’s a 15 yr old YouTuber who dances with a backpack and swings his arms straight from side to side. The dance is also known as “The Floss”
Stranger Things — the whole show and cast are pretty awesome for both kids and parents
Beef — this has made a come-back from the 80s! If someone has “beef” with someone else it means they are not getting along
Squad — homies, clique, group of people who are close friends and get along
Triggered — this is when someone’s really angry, they get “triggered”
Savage — I haven’t quite figured out how to use this properly in a sentence but it’s something along the lines of pretend-dissing someone. Sorta a backhanded “ouch” moment.
Ship — to ship two people means you think they would be good together — in a fun way, not too serious. “I am shipping John and Jane. They hang out all the time and they are so cute.”
THE ‘OUT‘ LIST
Miranda Sings — YouTuber, funny – I was just getting to know her and her work when she started a TV show a year ago October on Netflix, and then never heard about her again. My Child says they stopped watching her once she went to Netflix.
Mannequin Challenge — sooo last year. When you take a video moving through a group people staged motionless in a funny position.
Pretty Little Liars — TV show about a group of mean girls who are stalked by a creep named A. But no one cares anymore who “A” is, as the storywriters keep revealing and then switching the murderer/stalker around.
Water bottle Flip — this was a challenge last year that was very popular where you take a water bottle and flip it up in the air to land perfectly on a flat surface without falling.