When given a choice, older people prefer to read negative news, rather than positive news, about young adults, a new study suggests. In fact, older readers who chose to read negative stories about young individuals actually get a small boost in their self-esteem, according to the results…. And what about younger people? Well, they just prefer not to read about older people.
I find this deeply weird. It's not that I doubt the results of the study or its methodology or anything, but I have to say that I find negative news about young people almost unutterably depressing and upsetting, meanwhile I invest insane amounts of my hopes on any snips of news I can find in which young people are working together to accomplish things, or questioning authorities and crappy orthodox values, or exhibiting attitudes of fairness and tolerance and civic-mindedness in higher proportions than in generations before them (like mine, for instance). I'm 45 and so a little younger than the plus-fifties surveyed in the study, and as a teacher I am deeply invested in the concerns of young people, and I'm also apparently anomalous because at twenty I was very interested in and even tended to identify with much older people -- especially crusty philosophers and life-long activists, so maybe this is just speaking to something very alien to my experience and way of thinking.