Italy

Quaranteens

Italian teenagers and young adults as they emerge from the coronavirus lockdown

They’re aged between 15 and 20, carefree and used to doing, more or less, as they pleased. In their final year of high school or beginning university in their home cities, in Europe or the United States, they had dreams, hobbies and social lives. However, on 10 March the lockdown was introduced and they were taken aback by how drastic it was to be: schools closed, extra-curricular activities and gatherings were forbidden. Nothing until that moment had been so imperative or sudden. They accepted it without rancour, not because they feared for their own health, but for the health of their parents and their elderly relatives. They moved their education, sports, hobbies and social lives online. They found creativity and refuge in Houseparty and fitness apps. They adapted, not without difficulty, to a new and less predictable reality.

We asked them what changed in their lives and what will change in the world they know. And they answered with a touch of rhetoric but with great candour about what they heard from the adults, also with a certain respect and loyalty: “we were moving too fast, there’ll be less pollution, we’ll wear masks and greet each other with our elbows. But so what?” Everything has changed and there is a new normal now. It’s a process in which they now feel that they have an integral part, but without prejudice. They are the peers of Greta Thunberg; they follow the Climate Change movement with an increased awareness, but without yet knowing where it will lead exactly. The first part of 2020 has not been wasted. Everyone has gained something from it – be that family life, independent study or more time for thinking and doing.

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