Schoolies – Is there a lesson for us here?

Last week, I flew to Sydney for a training course (yes, learning to be a better business coach) and shared my flight home (to the Gold Coast – flights are cheaper and at better times) with about 200 18 year-olds on their way to the Gold Coast for Schoolies.

My God, they’re a noisy lot aren’t they? Now, in Byron, where I live, businesses generally view them as some sort of nuisance. They only spend money on accommodation, Woolies for cheap food and booze at the bottle shops.

In general, restaurants and cafes don’t make much money out of schoolies – they drink on the streets, in the park or in their apartments, are too young for licenced premises (some of them) and don’t eat out, preferring to spend their money on booze and (presumably) drugs.

And they misbehave terribly, trashing apartments, causing chaos in the streets. Basically, they are a menace to society.

Well that’s what everyone seems to think. Myself, I mostly see young kids out to have fun. They seem so excited and rather sweet. Now, I have teenagers of my own, so perhaps I’m used to them (my 17-year old son thinks that Schoolies is some sort of gift from life to him – delivering drunk teenage girls to Byron for him to play with).
Back to the plane ride. 200 schoolies are certainly noisy and they were so excited that they clapped and cheered when the plane took off. For the duration of the flight you could hardly hear the engines over the noise of excited chatter and boasts about how much fun they were going to have.

I found myself looking fondly at them and thinking “Aah. Aren’t they cute?”

This made me think. not too much because of the noise but a little. Why does everybody hate them so much?

And should we allow ourselves to follow the prevailing opinion like that?

They aren’t really arseholes, out to trash our town, steal all the shopping trolleys and abuse or fight each other. They’re just kids having fun, just like our kids and just like us.

When I got home, Michelle and I went for a cocktail at a bar in town, which was very busy. Town also seemed busy, full of people enjoying themselves and not held ransom by marauding teenagers.

In fact, I wondered if the prevailing opinion about schoolies was wrong. And here’s our lesson, finally. Maybe we shouldn’t always take such opinions, however forcibly stated, as gospel.

Lots of people have strong opinions about things and will defend them if challenged.

And lots of those people and their opinions are wrong or ill-founded or merely the secondhand opinions of others or of our wonderful newspapers.

Maybe it’s time we thought for ourselves a bit more – not just in terms of the schoolies or politics but in business too.

Over to you – think for yourself, assess new information or opinion with a critical ear and don’t just accept what you’re told. Not even by me.

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