Youngsters: forgotten citizens amidst a pandemic that marks their future
BarcelonaCovid-19 has profoundly affected the elderly, and the overwhelming majority of deceased are people over 60. This is a fact. There has been a lot of talk about this and we will continue to talk about it, because the effect of the pandemic on the elderly, both in terms of health and emotion, has been devastating. We have also talked a lot about schools, and about how both parents and children have suffered from their closure and the problems of reconciliation and care that this has caused. And about the adults who have been left without work or with businesses closed down. What has been talked about less is how all this is affecting young people. People between the ages of 15 and 24 who are not, initially, a risk group, neither in terms of health nor in general social terms, but who are also suffering directly from the effects of a pandemic that will undoubtedly mark their future.
It is to them, to these forgotten young people, that we dedicate today's Sunday dossier. And we do so, first of all, by letting them speak. "It would have been a great year, and it's a year that we're doing what we can", says Ivet, a young university student who has been left without Erasmus and also without a social life. "It's difficult to live without imagining the future", says Paula, who has finished her degree but has no possibility of working. They are some of the witnesses of young people who recognise that above all they have longed to be with their classmates or friends, that they dream of meeting new people, that they have been shutting down without seeing an outlet for their desires, and that they have blamed themselves and been blamed by others for the second wave, when they were not the only age group that relaxed security measures throughout the summer.
This stigmatisation of young people - due to some of them having broken restrictions with parties or group meetings - is unfair. Furthermore, it shows a lack of empathy as a society that needs to be revised. The vast majority have held back in an exemplary manner, they are being in solidarity with the elderly by staying at home, minimizing relationships and assuming that they have "lost" a year of life that could have been, who knows, the one that would have marked their future.
This is a moment in life when one takes the first steps into the adult world, when one meets new people, a period of professional training but also of vital learning. This is the generation that left childhood in the midst of a brutal economic crisis that disrupted many families, and now leaves youth in the midst of a terrible pandemic. Perhaps with all this, they will have learned the values of human contact above virtuality, and of community support and responsibility in the face of individuality. But they do not know what to expect from the future, if anything, and they will have many reasons, when all this is over, to hold previous generations accountable for the world they will inherit.