Why are opinions from teenagers often not taken seriously on Quora?

Thanks Nguyen for the A2A.

This is a difficult question to answer, IMO, because people are so different from each other (at any age). But I will share a scatterplot of thoughts that may help….

1) Some teens seem to have astounding insight, emotional clarity, intuitive leaps that really “grok” a situation, who then can articulate their thoughts clearly. However, it takes an adult with similar facilities (clarity, intuitive depth, insight, etc.) to recognize what these teens are saying, and accredit it the value and profundity it deserves. In other words, the audience and author need to share roughly the same EQ, IQ, curiosity and what I call “functional intelligence” (effective operationalization of values) to comprehend and honer each others’ perspectives at a given level. And this is rare even for two people of similar age, educational background, cultural experiences, communication styles and so on; and it is that much rarer for two people from completely different backgrounds, of different ages, cultures, etc. So this “communication gap” can be a big part of the problem, regardless of age.

2) Many teens believe they are sharing a well-developed and multifaceted perspective that is uniquely their own - when actually none of this may be true. In fact, they may just be parroting what their parents have said, or their peers, or their favorite book, blog, TV program, etc. without having researched, tested or critically questioned their conclusions. This habit - which seems often to coincide with the Dunning-Kruger effect - can persist into later years, but is moderated in some percentage of the population by the following factors: a) individuation from parents; b) depth and breadth of formal and informal education over time; c) instructive life, relationship and work experiences; d) myelination and synaptic pruning in prefrontal cortex (usually up through age 25); e) humility and caution as a consequence of acute failures; f) and advancing stages of emotional and moral maturity. And although it is always unwise to dismiss someone’s perspective out-of-hand because of these factors, it is extremely common to take a teen’s perspective “with a grain of salt” because of such pervasive developmental characteristics.
Now here’s my personal experience with this issue: Throughout my life, I have had my opinions dismissed by older people on many occasions simply because I have looked younger than I actually was. Well into my thirties, I was asked for my ID to prove I was older than 18, and many people who didn’t know me treated me rather dismissively until they learned about my age, education, life experiences and so on. I am now 51, so that really isn’t as much an issue anymore, but I felt a lot of prejudice in the workplace, in interactions with strangers, while traveling abroad and so forth simply because people assumed I was still a teenager - for nearly 20 years! To say this was frustrating was an understatement, but I have heard women complain of a similar prejudice because of their gender, and people of color report the same thing…even folks with a southern U.S. accent encounter a condescending bigotry regarding the validity of their opinions or the efficacy of their intelligence and insight.

In other words…you are not alone. This is a very pervasive societal problem. It occurs, I think, because the animal part of human beings feels the need to jockey for social position and privilege in any group, and will identify and bond with others of a similar pedigree to defend an “in-group” vs. “out-group” dynamic. The homogenous characteristics that define a given “in-group” can of course be completely arbitrary - what kind of car you drive, how much money you make, skin color, hair color, gender, clothing, vocabulary, religion, politics, favorite sports team, military service, where you were born, where you went to school, etc. etc. - but they allow one person to automatically accept someone in their chosen group, and automatically dismiss someone who isn’t. Because, as the animalistic in-group logic goes, if that person isn’t EXACTLY like me, how can I trust them in any way…? I will maintain a negative prejudice of them because they are “Other!”

So these are some of the factors that may be contributing to the “why.”

Just my 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Why-are-opinions-from-teenagers-often-not-taken-seriously-on-Quora)


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