A father proudly posted the URL to his 13-year-old daughter's website to a Usenet group I read, boasting his daughter's site gets 21,000 hits. So I took a look. The tiny photograph of the web mistress herself showed a pale and serious face framed by dark hair, the almost gothic and always closed look some kids sport.
Me being me, I clicked on something called "too much time on my hands" and landed right in the test results of "Most Likely Way to Die" which had "Suicide" far outranking all other options.
So I asked the dad about whether or not he knew the dark thoughts lurking in his daughter's mind, and both he and another dad promptly suggested that childless I had no clue what kids' humor is like today. The test is all in fun, silly.
It is very possible that I don't know what today's teens find amusing. The teens I do know personally don't have this dark, permanently pouting outlook on the world.
Now, I have no personal experience with teen angst. I was so relieved to not be bullied and to be in California and to be making friends with people with whom I had no painful history, that I pretty much enjoyed being a teenager.
When I was about 13 or so and still in Norway, I considered suicide, fed up yet again with being bullied. I went through my options (poison, gun, drowning, etc.) and realized it would be hard to pull off a suicide without someone seeing what I was up to (because my most practical option was hanging and you can bet someone would notice me schlepping rope; I didn't know about orgasms and belts back then). I then thought about what my tormentors would think when they heard I was dead, and then I got angry. I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of beating me down!
So when I moved back to California at age 15, it was a new and glorious adventure and overshadowed any teen issues I had. I was so used to the world being against me anyway, that that wouldn't get my attention.
It may be my personality, it may be my upbringing, but I wasn't drawn to destructive behaviors. I always laugh at the claim that good girls always fall for bad boys, because I can't ever remember wanting trouble in any form. I didn't have a father to rebel against, either.
Now, I've posted on this blog my own results to a "How Will You Die" test. And I've thought about that now, about whether or not I am being a hypocrite. I posted the results back then because they were fairly pleasant and a bit humorous. I would not have posted the results if they had come up with suicide; it's not what I want on my blog and that answer would probably upset me and my readers, anyway. But I realize now that someone else taking the test could come up with other results and get upset. (And now I'm debating whether or not to pull the above-mentioned post.) So I react when a 13-year-old posts a similar test, though she could just be showing off to her friends.
But that leaves me with what she must have answered to get suicide as a clear result. She may not have been honest in answering, but what if she was? And even if she did do the test as a lark (as I did), there's still the truth that there is always a bit of seriousness in every joke. Perhaps she's just more willing to admit to having the same thoughts I had at her age. Or is using humor to make a difficult topic easier to handle.
At any rate, I'm not convinced it's only black teen humor.