September 2022 | Jesus, the Door

Youth and the New Norm
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Youth and the New Norm

Pr. Joshin John

COVID-19 have wreaked havoc on all age groups in one way or the other. The disease's physical impact has been profound on the middle and old aged, especially those with underlying health conditions, but the youth have been relatively spared. Although some have accused the youth of spreading the virus by their lack of quarantine and sanitation, it has been found that they are the ones who are not only active in their response to exercise caution but also responsible for helping communities stay safe. This pandemic has been a game changer of sorts, wherein a shift in various dimensions have taken place, which is here to stay.

Change as the constant

Life has changed from what it was in 2019 - true to the adage, “change is the only constant in life,” said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. However, the extent and speed of change have been unprecedented, so much so that TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), which is presently the most valuable IT company in the world, briskly moved 90 percent of its workforce to work from home due to COVID-19, although the plan made before the pandemic was to have 75 percent to do so by the year 2025. This work from home, and the other derivatives of using technology such as school from home, church from home, sing from home, and the like have brought not only the adoption of technology but also a radical shift in how we conduct our lives. 

Software companies are rapidly rolling out new Apps with better features for a remotely connected lifestyle. It has to be noted that the youth are not only the ones developing such with their intellect but also the early adopters with their desire to experiment.

Ill-effects of prolonged pandemic

If there is light shining in the darkness, then there is darkness hiding from light as well. As much as the youth have been silently at the forefront of this battle against COVID-19, they are also the muted sufferers in this pandemic. It is reported that one in six young people had to stop working in this crisis. Moreover, the young workers reported a 23 percent reduction in working hours, 

resulting in lower income. Nearly an eighth of young people’s education came to a complete stop since this pandemic began. A survey found that 50 percent of young people may be subject to anxiety or depression, and 17 percent are probably affected by it. One-third of the youth are uncertain of their future career prospects. The youth’s emotional impact is enormous, with over one-third stating that they have never relaxed in this pandemic. These effects are visible in churches as well – depression is on the rise due to social isolation; lack of physical, inter-personal communications have led many to feel lonely and sad. With youth staying online for more extended periods, studies show that the propensity to visit pornographic sites is on the upward incline and also the chances to fall prey to online predators.

Transformation of culture

The broad digital divides that existed once is gradually getting bridged through cost-effective technology, resulting in a new ecosphere and its culture.  The COVID-19 has become a “rainy day” scenario for the youth to bring out their creativity and resourcefulness. Studies prove that the African continent, which is home to the largest number of youths worldwide, sees innovations like never before. Novel methods of propagating caution, using all forms of media to bring awareness of health hazards to dispersed communities, mobilizing support-personnel and finances online, volunteering, etc. are some of the productive techniques adopted by the youth worldwide.  Around the world, the youth are leading the way in fighting against misinformation and disinformation. Digitally sustainable innovative businesses and digital payments are on an exponential increase. With the world as its grand audience, the connected community is bringing unified advocation for better government and has become a platform to promote social causes.

Conclusion

How true it is that the best inventions the world has seen to date have happened during the war! Seasons of adversity are when resilience grows not only by immunity in the physical body but also in adaptation to the new cultural norms. In short, this season has birthed a new worldwide culture of greater interconnectivity, believably as a precursor to the 2nd advent of Christ. May the church rise to realize that specific changes are here to stay, and hence be adopters of technology to bring the new generation together to harness their skills and fervor for Evangelism and Discipleship in this new norm. 

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