Monday, August 03, 2015

Youth and Love

On Twitter, someone asked me, “Why do public speakers now, when talking to the youth, the topics are the same, namely love and relationship related? It’s like they don’t have any other ideas."

I can’t speak for other public speakers, but I can speak from myself based on my own personal experience speaking to the public, especially to the youth. I don’t have a lot of experience. I’ve only been in this arena for about 4 years. There are people who have been in it for much, much longer than that so I don’t claim to know more than them and I don’t claim to be an expert of any kind.

This is just a simple observation based on a limited experience. Based on my experience, I can see why that question arises and I am sure that the person is not the only one with the question in mind. When it comes to the youth, it does seem like there aren’t any other topics being discussed other than topics related to love and relationship. But that is largely because those topics are demanded from the organizers and the audience.

There were times when I would be discussing with organizers prior to the speaking event about what topic to talk about. As a speaker coming from the outside, I assume that the organizers would know their audience better because they’re from the inside. So I usually ask them to suggest to me the topic that I will be talking about. Almost all of the time, when I ask for suggestions, the topic of love and relationship come up.

It is a demanded topic, because it is one of the most important topics to talk about when it comes to the youth. Especially the topic of love, which is central to the Islamic faith and I’m not talking just about romantic love but just love in general. There is still a lot of education and awareness that needs to be done in that area. I understand that some people might be bored listening to these kinds of topics but there are other people out there who still need help regarding those topics.

Having said all of that, I would like to highlight the fact that there are other topics being talked about by many, many public speakers. I’m pretty sure if we look around your neighbourhood or our workplace or our campus, you will find such speakers who speak about other topics. I, myself, have talked about a lot of other topics like self-confidence, social media, mental health, resilience, and education - to name a few.

But the thing about these other topics is that they don’t get as much hype from the youth community as much as the topic of love and relationship does. In my experience, whenever the topic of love comes about, 8 times out of 10 there will be a jam-packed audience.

Why?

Is it because the organizers didn’t do a good marketing job? Is it because the audience just aren’t interested in other topics? Is it because other topics aren’t interesting? I don’t know for sure. Your guess is as good as mine.

My guess is that one of the main possible reasons why other topics don’t have the same “wow!" reaction compared to love and relationship is because other topics aren’t perceived as being as close, as relatable, and as relevant to the youth compared to love and relationship.

One possible reason for that is because the youth aren’t exploring the world outside of their own world. In their own world, love and relationship are important. It’s close and personal. But if they go out of their world and explore other worlds, then they will see that there are other important issues that are just as close and personal.

Issues like politics, economics, mental health, the environment, the law, government policies, social injustice, poverty, rights and responsibilities are among the other important issues that affect the youth directly and indirectly on a day-to-day basis. These issues are very relevant to the youth, but they need to get out of their classrooms, textbooks, and their own small world in order to see that.

But lets not play the blame game here. We have to focus on ourselves and do our part in order to create a culture of caring for all issues related to humankind.

If you are the organizer of an event, then organize more events that center around other important topics. Don’t judge the success of your event by how many people attend your event. Judge the success of your event by the quality of your content and the quality of your delivery.

In the beginning, yes there will be few people who will show up and fewer people who will show interest. But those few people will be the pioneers of this culture and sooner or later, insha Allah, there will be more and more people who will board this train.

If you are the audience, then make a conscious effort to explore the world outside of your own and find other issues to pay attention to, on top of the issue of love and relationship. Because love and relationship is still an important issue to be discussed.

If you are a public speaker, then expand your reach by talking about other issues that you care about and that you are knowledgable in. If you want to talk about love and relationship, that’s okay too but do diversify and deepen your approach to the topic.

For example, I usually use the topic of love and relationship as a stepping stone for me to talk about other issues because the people are there so this is a golden opportunity for me to trigger their interest in other important issues.

Lastly, for all of us as a community, we have to slowly but surely move away from making these talk events another type of entertainment where people just gather together, laugh and relax. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with laughing and enjoying yourselves in these events, but we shouldn’t make that the whole point of the events.

These events should be a mental, spiritual, and sometimes physical exercise in which we progress in our knowledge, understanding, and daily life application. We should be learning more and more new things about ourselves and about the world.

It shouldn’t be just another event where we attend, snap a few photos, collect some points or certificates, and go home happy because we can update our CV. We should go home with our minds tired from thinking and digesting what’s being discussed and we should have this inner drive to improve our lives in some way because of the event that we attended and organized.

We should be more intelligent because of these events, and not more, well, dumb.