Youth in Revolt: London Riots Signify Fear of the Future

Riots in London have left the public confused as they wonder at the violence and try to understand the purpose of the protesters. (ulie Sell/MCT)

Julie Sell

Riots in London have left the public confused as they wonder at the violence and try to understand the purpose of the protesters. (ulie Sell/MCT)


I painfully admit that no positive adjectives really come to mind when trying to describe the youth of today. In fact, the only fitting ones seem to be along the lines of “confused” and “lost.”  The future for us is not clear, and we cling ever so closely to the possibility of broken dreams and disappointments. So what are we really doing to show our confusion and misunderstanding?

Riots in London have left the public confused as they wonder at the violence and try to understand the purpose of the protesters. (ulie Sell/MCT)

Just recently, we watched riots erupt in London shocking mostly everyone around the world. (I think my jaw actually dropped upon seeing the shocking image of the burning double decker bus). Most of the rioters were the youth of London and I believe most were acting on their insecurities regarding the future. The youth in revolt, after all, are usually immature, outrageous and very frightened of the future.

There are approximately one million people from the ages of 16 to 24 in Britain who are officially unemployed and not enrolled in school. Especially suffering are those with learning and social disabilities. In recent years, there has been a rise in young gangs and violent crimes in Britain, specifically near the same neighborhoods where the riots began.

Northern London is ridden with the unemployed, socially-challenged individuals and gangs. The youth of northern London are anything but confident in their future. Most of them struggle to keep money for food while others feel stuck in the same rotting position because of their disabilities. Finding a job is difficult, regardless of one’s capabilities.

London, which last experienced a riot back in the 1980s, is usually viewed as a put together and dignified city. It was almost like a sign of the apocalypse—London is burning and the people there have gone mad. The looting, burning and rioting were signs of uncivilized people in London.

Many voiced their negative opinions, calling the rioters barbarians, stupid and crazy. These comments were seen on Twitter and blogs, and even some media outlets took a side in the situation. I understand that the riots were a dangerous time for people in London, and they must have felt victimized by the rioters—but I don’t think the youth acted out for no particular reason.

The public perceive the London riots very negatively, and I believe it’s because of the context of the riots. This spring, the world watched as Egyptians took to the streets protesting their anger with their government. The demonstrations in Egypt were deemed a revolution* because the Egyptian people took matters of injustice into their own hands. In February, their protesting proved victorious as Mubarak stepped down from his position as president. It seemed that it was a victory for freedom lovers everywhere.

Anthony Devlin/PA Photos/Abaca Press/MCT

This revolution paved the way for several other demonstrations, including protests in Yemen, Syria, Libya and Israel. Democracies, like ours, saw the beauty in these revolutions. The media portrayed these with much more positive light even if they were just as violent, or more so, than the London riots.

The media and the mass population are missing the troubles of the youth in London (and well, the youth everywhere). The goal of the riots is much broader than freedom from a tyrannical leader. We are fighting to secure a future in a doubtful economy and world. Maybe the riots didn’t evoke any change in the system, but maybe that’s because it’s just the start of a bigger revolution out there to come.

We are the youth of the world and as we struggle through college, we, too, are very frightened of what comes after. What’s next for us? There is no clear-cut answer, but the riots were just an outcry from the scared youth in the UK who are damaged from the economy and society they’re in. Rioting doesn’t have to be the answer to our problems.

I hope we don’t have to achieve more answers through violence. But maybe we should start thinking about how we’re going to change things in America and everywhere else. After all, we are the youth and we can, and must, be a factor that determines our future. We can no longer be afraid nor can we sit back and watch the burning.