Cornel West, in Democracy Matters by Cornel West argues in chapter 6 that many of the American youth have been the direct target by corporate America for consumption. This produces an adolescent to be fragile, which does not enable them to withstand the emotional trauma generated by the fast paced capitalist culture of consumption that confronts them. The youth of America are being bombarded by consumption, which leads to consumption addiction. Adolescents become addicts of alcohol, sex, video games, popularity, technology, success, and fashion. These addictions leave them with little room or time to become mature and to become concerned about others and or politically engaged in social change.
I would argue that the late adolescent (19-24) population of America are dis-enfranchised about how they were disillusioned by American adults who have targeted them with consumerism and authoritarianism. I think this is why so many late adolescents are so anti-adult world, because all they know of the adult world is depravity of morality, egocentricity, and greedy tendencies.
West communicates that late adolescents long for energizing visions worthy of pursuit and sacrifice that will resurrect their old consumed souls in a story bigger than themselves and locate themselves in a narrative greater than themselves. So, it is imperative to engage the youth in something that is outside of themselves, but we must first break the consuming psychological strong holds. If they even sense a fake adult authoritative power, they are out of there.
In my youth group, I have been requiring that every single youth (jr and sr high) that walks through the door turn off and turn in his/her cell phone and place it in the “phone prison”. At first, they hated me and gave me much resistance. Now, I have them trained like dogs. It was my small way to confront the distractions and consumption mentality in their life. Youth group is one hour and 30 minutes so students can easily go that long without music, apps, text or games. And who knows God may get their attention since they are not glued to their cell phone? I have actually sensed an increase of attention and engagement since my cell phone/ipod policy. But seriously, that basket is like a mini earthquake. Every other second a cell phone is vibrating.
As a youth pastor it is my dream to break through the adolescent consumption mentality. I want my students serving God and serving outside of themselves while feeling no desire to buy things. I want them to feel that adults are safe and trustworthy and adults genuinely care for who they are.