In Defense of Mallrats Everywhere….

Posted: July 16, 2008 in Beyond Capernaum
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This past weekend the largest mall in Delaware (i.e. your average shopping mall) began to enforce a curfew on Friday & Saturday evenings. “Teenagers under 18 without adult supervision are being turned away at Delaware’s largest mall as of this weekend, as officials attempt to reclaim the center for shoppers, not slackers.”

What a load of nonsense. What a steaming, smelly pile of…um…nonsense.

One thing that will consistently annoy me is the scapegoating of youth. Even in this age that is often described as detached, youth remain very good at finding enjoyment in being together. As our society turns more toward isolating ourselves in cubicles and suburbs without sidewalks, there are less and less places that such group socilization occurs organically. It’s a sobering thought to think that a shopping mall can become the best option for (according to the mall’s GM) more than 2,000 youth on any Friday or Saturday.

If there is a positive side to this, I would suggest that it shines a harsh light on the reality that shopping malls exist for one purpose: to profit from consumerism. The fact that teens aren’t welcome to socialize at the mall stems from the same reason that I have to wander down endless hallways into the bowels of any mall whenever I need to go to the bathroom. The mall places a higher priority on our ability to spend than on my physical need to use the bathroom or the need of 2,000 youth to build relationships with their peers. In an earlier article, a spokesperson for the International Council of Shopping Centers had this to say: “What has to be remembered is the mall is there for commerce; it’s not a hangout. It’s a private property, and it’s there for shopping.”

If the church is alive in Delaware, they will join with other decent and caring people in realizing that young people hanging out with friends is not a problem to be dealt with, but a good thing. They will find ways to foster that desire to build relationships and community. They will give them places to congregate safely, but also on their own terms. They will show youth the respect that they often demand for themselves. They will also wise up to the fact that the Christiana Mall has no additional regard for them beyond their ability to spend and consume. If they must consume, they’ll find somewhere else to take their money.

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Comments
  1. Rachel says:

    >I don’t even know what to say, sometimes. People get so afraid and I just don’t understand why. And don’t they understand that these kids have to go somewhere? If not the mall, then where?And what WILL become of mallratting? Generations to come will look at Kevin Smith and be confused! We can’t have that.

  2. Nancy says:

    >Unfortunately, it’s not just malls. Teens aren’t much welcome anywhere. The question isn’t so much why don’t they turn out “better” as how any turn out “right”.I struggle with this conflict nearly eveyday. So many adults are truly afraid of teens, especially make teens. And if they are teens of color…At the same time, so many kids are angry – at nothing special, just angry. Too many have so little self worth or confidence or whatever it is that lets you look at the world without a chip on your shoulder.So, one the one hand we have terrified adults and on the other hair trigger kids. And this is in the “nice, safe, suburbs”. The inner city – I don’t even want to imagine.

  3. Nancy says:

    >that post should have read – MALE teens, not MAKE teens. Never did learn how to type.

  4. Matt Staniz says:

    >In my experience, I’ve been amazed how one person’s ability to not let their fear dictate their actions can take away a world of anger in the other.

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