I often hear (mainly older) people lament the lack of community evident in today’s young people. “My teenage daughter never seems to speak to any of her friends” is a common example of the complaint. It’s a misunderstanding of the power and uses of modern communication technologies that cause an older generation to discount any forms of human interaction that unfamiliar to themselves.

In my experience, most of today’s young people – while a little uncomfortable with telephonic communication and face to face with adults – are nevertheless vociferous communicators using social media, instant messaging, text messages and similar tools.

I experienced a wonderful example of this just this past week, while listening to BBC Radio 1 – the music station aimed at a younger generation. It concerned a certain frequent caller, a Mr Toby Lerone. It was sheer genius.

Obviously, “Toby Lerone” is a made up name. It started with Chris Moyles on his Radio 1 breakfast show, they were discussing the abundance of Radio 2 newsreaders with food related names like Ricky Salmon, Colin Berry and Fenella Fudge. This led to them creating their own names from foods of which Toby Lerone emerged as favourite. But now, all around the country, young people are contacting their local radio shows and using the name as their own. Toby is getting air time everywhere. And causing embarrassment and consternation to news readers and DJs everywhere.

The clip below is a montage of the best bits, as recounted by the Radio 1 breakfast show team.

I really enjoy this, not just for the comedic value, but also because it is a small picture of a new, connected, inter-related world, where small jokes can be shared by so many. That’s something families used to do – the knowing look, the nudge-nudge-wink-wink moments that provided fleeting moments of connection, cementing relationships and creating community. Just because today’s young people do these sorts of things differently doesn’t mean they don’t do them at all.

There was a time, not long ago, when this story could just not have happened. It was an era (not that long ago, as I said), when the news media was held in high esteem as one of a number of pillars of society (equally held in esteem). But (as I have also said), times have changed. Today’s young people are not just young versions of today’s adults. They are different – with different worldviews, different expectations of life and work, different ways of communicating. Different.

Now enjoy the comedy:

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