Psychologists have found that the mind pushes immoral acts into the past and recalls good deeds as happening more recently, creating a false sense of moral progress. Memory amplifies self-righteousness. The mind creates distance from unpleasant events.
Benedict Carey’s “Why All Indiscretions Appear Youthful” reported how “people subconsciously maintain and massage their moral self-image.” One sentence about high school memories really resonated with me: “Those who hated their time in those locker-lined hallways feel further from their teenage selves than those who enjoyed it.”
So that’s why I'm writing young adult fiction! It’s not just that I’m a parent of two terrific teens; I also enjoyed being a teenager. I went to a fabulous school in NYC. Not everything was perfect: my love life was a tangled mess and mean kids picked on me. I was not a typical teen, but I had a group of good friends who understood me then and now. Living in Manhattan gave us independence and plenty to do outside of school. We were bookish girls and not part of the “popular” crowd, but even good girls had bad fun.
Andy Warhol stole our cab on a rainy night. I bet he didn’t have a curfew!
Still, I look back on those years with amazement because no responsible parent would allow club hopping now. The legal drinking age in the USA went up to 21 when I was in college. Binge drinking has become a big problem at both high schools and colleges. My children consider alcohol to be as bad as I considered drugs at their age. Our mind may rearrange events to bolster our ethical self-image, but society also shifts our definition of moral behavior.
When I write for teens now, I take this shift of morality into consideration. In “as u like it” under aged drinking in Manhattan leads to consequences. In my work in progress, NOT CRICKET, I'm facing a different moral landscape where the drinking age is 16 (for beer and wine) in England. I write about teens that act responsibly and sometimes make mistakes, just like I did. We learn from experience, and it appears, the good deeds will be remembered and our slips pushed into the past. I’m not sure if that’s disturbing or reassuring.
YA Book Blog Watch:
Lisa Schroeder blogged about Binge Drinking for The Comtemps, a new blog penned by a group of authors who write contemporary realistic young adult fiction.
Presenting Lenore asked, "Does a YA Novel Have To Be Accessible?"
The Story Siren posted a list of 2011 Debut YA Authors
Reading in Colorposted a list of 2011 Debut YA/MG Authors of Color.