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youngandthrifty looks at why young people were behaving badly during the Vancouver Riots. Could it be because these middle class young people didn't know the value of a dollar?

Many of you have probably heard of the horrendous riot that happened last Wednesday when Vancouver lost to the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup Finals (uh, Echo, you were right… we lost! 😉 ).  Everyone was fearing something like this would happen, with 100,000 fans crowded into downtown Vancouver streets, coupled with booze and alcohol, and tension from a poorly lost game, made for some potential displaced anger.

But we didn’t think it would be as bad as what happened 17 years ago, in 1994.  But it was much worse.  It was really really bad.

I’m glad I didn’t go downtown this time, I think I would have been very disappointed with what I saw.

Instead, I watched from home on TV and was absolutely appalled by what I was seeing on television.  I stayed up past midnight watching the live footage roll in of the damage that was inflicted.  Cars (yes, even police squad cars) were turned upside down and lit on fire, The Hudson Bay Company’s windows were smashed, Louis Vuitton’s windows were smashed and $1000+ bags were looted and then later put on sale through Craigslist, people were stabbed, punched, beaten… you name it.  It was absolutely disgraceful for Vancouver.  In case you haven’t seen it here are some of the shots.

Seeing the footage made me feel like I was watching something from a zombie movie or a video game.  Everyone’s eyes looked so glazed (hmm.. maybe it was from all the weed people were smoking?) and it looked like something was controlling them… what would compel someone to set a car on fire, laugh maniacally, and take a self-portrait with their iPhone, and then proceed to tweet about it and post it on facebook?

The one thing that the “hooligans” as they have been dubbed, have in common is that they are young men (high school aged to about 24 years old) and that most of them were NOT from Vancouver and most importantly, most of them were NOT poor or in need of looted paraphernalia.  In fact, most of them were from middle class (or even well-to-do) families, including Nathan K. from Maple Ridge whose father is a general surgeon and mother is a registered nurse.  He is a very well-known water polo player and is just about finishing his last year in high school.  He was set on a partial scholarship at the University of Calgary in September.

Then he decided to screw it all up (though I highly doubt he thought about the consequences of his actions at the time) by trying to set a Vancouver Police squad car on fire.  Yup, that’s him and his fancy kicks.

Image courtesy of www.vancityriotcriminals.tumblr.comThis reckless behaviour brings to mind the pitfall of our young generation, the generation Y. Is it because our baby boomer parents work so hard at making sure we study hard at school, make sure we get everything we want and “need” (you know, that new iPad that everyone else has, or those cool new pair of Nike Air Jordans) in order to fit in with the rest of our peers… that it somehow causes our young to lose awareness of how fortunate we are, lose sight of respecting other people, and lose sight of respecting other people’s property?

I am fully aware that a lot of the bad behaviour from that night can be attributed to the mob mentality (in my opinion, I honestly didn’t think that the video recording and photos helped any… although it has led to slap on the wrists arrests, I feel that having an audience in fact egged on the so called “hooligans”)… but I can’t help but think that some of it is because, as Blonde on the Budget recently put it, we are spoiled brats.

I strongly believe that when the good things in life fall effortlessly into your lap and you don’t go without, you don’t learn to appreciate life… you don’t learn to respect yourself, and you don’t learn to respect others.  You don’t learn to cope with loss.

So when asked the question of whether I would rather grow up wealthy or not, I would choose not to.

That being said, I know that a lot of what transpired can be attributed to just being young and naive… but still.  Take in point the conversation from a group of high school kids I recently overheard while on a sky train:

Girl with valley girl voice: Ohhh my gawwdd did you hear that Chris ended up going to jail that night?  Like, I can’t believe he went to jail overnight and he doesn’t even sound like he gives a sh*t.  Seriously.  That stuff can go on your permanent record, ya know.

Boy with Justin Bieber hair: Yeahh, totally.  He did so much damage.  I talked to Chris the other night, and he said that he’s just amazed he’s all over the internet now and he’s pretty much famous!  That seems to be all he cares about.

Girl with valley girl voice: Oh my gawwwd, that’s crazy.  It was soooo fun that night though.

I was even more disgusted at what I overheard, that young people are actually talking about it and then not caring about the consequences of their actions.  I was probably that annoying and reckless when I was in high school (I do remember talking very loudly while on public transportation and thinking that my loud voice was the most amazing thing ever), but I would never do damage on other people’s belongings or property like that.  Poor coping skills, people… poor coping skills.  Just because we lost, doesn’t mean you are given the green light to go on a rampage and cause $1 million damage to London Drugs.

Readers, why do you think these young people might have behaved the way they did?  Do you think parenting has anything to do with it?  Or do you think this behaviour is bound to happen no matter how one may try to teach their child the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’?  Do you think it has any relation to personal finance and whether our generation learned the ‘value of a dollar’?

Or do you think this is just somewhat typical rebellious behaviour from young adults/ teenagers?

Article comments

101 Centavos says:

Crazy stuff… the best thing to do when caught up in a situation like this, is to get out from it as soon as possible. When wild animal emotions are busting loose and social restrictions are thrown to the four winds, there’s no telling what could happen.

young says:

@101 Centavos- So true- “wild animal emotions”. Seriously, it did look like something from either a Zombie movie or from Discovery Channel.

Ya Y&T, I teach the “millenials” or 90’s kids. Think of the worst parts of Generation Y, then throw an entire childhood of reality TV, Paris Hilton, and most of all AD/HD from the crazy exposure to technology and you have some idea of what’s coming. In their defence they are much more able to multi-task than we were, and probably more aware of their place in a global context, but I still shiver to think that our economy will depend on them relatively soon. Of course literally every generation believes this to be the case, check out these quotes by ancient Romans:

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” (Plato, 400 B.C.)

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on
frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond
words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and
respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise
[disrespectful] and impatient of restraint” (Hesiod, 8th century BC)

young says:

@My University Money- I’m scared!!! ADHD seems inevitable, especially growing up in the culture where you can find information with the snap of your fingers (remember when we used to look up stuff we didn’t know in the encyclopedia way back?). I’m worried too, I’m worried about our future, too. Just not enough money in the pot the way we’re going.

Thanks for those quotes, they are beautiful and they do make me feel better, that its not only us as “generation Y” and it is young people in general, even back to Plato’s time!

Too many people in a concentrated area +
Liquor and other substances consumed in excess +
A VERY undesirable outcome
= A mess.

This wouldn’t just happen in Vancouver, but too bad it happened all the same. This will taint the city unfortunately.

young says:

@My Own Advisor- Maybe it will taint the city so the immigration will stop and we’ll have some decent housing prices for once? Here’s hoping 🙂

Helly says:

Scary stuff. Reminds me of the LA riots after the Rodney King trial. Not that I condone the rioters’ behavior, but at least “outrage at racial injustice” is a somewhat of a valid reason to be angry– certainly more so than a mere sports game.

And there is definitely something to be said about mob mentality. It even works in the positive sense– how much easier is it to conquer stage fright (or at least, “stage reluctance”) when you have someone else right up there with you, sharing the spotlight and offering support?

young says:

@Helly- Agree.. I don’t feel that ANYONE is justified to be angry and cause damage of any sort for sports. ITS JUST A GAME PEOPLE! 🙂 Also agree about your second point. Though I wouldn’t call 2 people on stage a “mob”, I guess it could be a mini-mob 🙂

Big E says:

A couple of contributing factors:

1. Parents have to share some, not all, of the blame. I hate to think what would happen if I were ever stupid enough to do anything like what these idiots did.
2. Lack of real consequences. Until people are punished appropriately for their actions, things like this will continue to happen.
3. The “look at me” syndrome. Facebook, Twitter, etc. that fuel the narcissism.

My $0.02.

young says:

@Big E- Those are the exact thoughts I have about the whole situation. Especially #2 and #3. #3 is a really big problem with the onset of Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve heard a lot of theories that many of the people were waiting on the streets for the game to end and used the crowd as an excuse. The idea was that a small minority of “professional rioters” used the crowd to mask its craziness. Obviously a few of the more drunken fans joined in, but the majority of people causing damage were not even hockey fans. Is there any truth to this, or is it as bad as it first appears?

PS. If you think Generation Y is bad, just wait until you see what’s coming up the ladder (high school teacher here).

young says:

@My University Money- I have heard these theories too (e.g. a car was set up beside the post office when no cars could access the street because it was blocked off). Haha, I’m scared to know what the Millenials are like! It is the millennials you teach, right? What are those born in the 90’s called?

I don’t know. Gen X behaved quite poorly when they were young as well. I think it’s all the testosterone, alcohol, and the mob mentality. It’s crazy what people will do when they are a bit drunk.

young says:

@retirebyforty- Very true- alcohol, testosterone and mob mentality make for a very bad night! Good to know that it’s not just us… !

jesse says:

“NOT from Vancouver”? But they were from Vancouver’s suburbs of Maple Ridge or Surrey? Your beloved City doesn’t stop at Boundary Road.

This riot was an affront and an injustice, no better than the police forcibly breaking up a legitimate political protest (which this was not). Thanks to all who helped shame those who participated. Imagine if a politician who clamps down on legitimate protest, akin to the APEC protests in the mid-90s or the G-8 protests in Toronto last year, was treated as these rioters are now.

young says:

@jesse- very true… it feels like what is happening now (‘tagging’ those who participated in the riots) is akin to public stoning. People are shamed before they are proven guilty (as evidenced by the above- Nathan K.). I’m not sure how I feel about it, makes my stomach queasy.

krantcents says:

Not all boomers indulge their children. Family values have something to do with it, but not all of it. Crowd psychology and behavior has a lot to do with it. In a crowd, people do things they would never do on their own. As a (boomer) parent, I knew where my kids were and who they were with. I avoided unsafe conditions where my children could be caught up into a situation. I tried to catch things before it became a problem.

young says:

@krantcents- That’s where accountability comes into play, which sounds like what you practice as a parent 🙂 . I think many boomer parents do indulge their children though– it’s hard to say no when one is trying to gain acceptance from a teenager. So I’m hearing that you also feel that the mob mentality changed the way many people behaved, people felt ‘invincible’ yet they were not invincible to the cameras, unfortunately.

Echo says:

Hey Y&T, don’t worry I won’t gloat for being right 😉

I was on my way to Orlando and missed the whole game, when I got to the hotel and met a few people they told me Boston won and about the rioting that ensued. There were some interesting reactions from across the continent, they chalked it up to “those crazy Canadians and their hockey”.

I must say that I wasn’t very surprised to hear of the riots, since there were rumours that people would start a riot whether they won or lost. And of course there were incidents during the Olympic games last year, so the writing was on the wall.

young says:

@Echo- Yeah, that’s true. Some people just like the riot for the sake of it. It’s too bad they decided to do it to such an extent!

No Debt MBA says:

I’m pretty sure riots after sports games have a history at US universities pre-dating gen Y. That being said, there is absolutely no excuse for what these people did.

I’ve seen a study that found that rates of narcissism were rising in young people with gen Y having a very high rate. That might support this kind of behavior where someone is basically saying their reaction/celebration/mourning over their favorite sports team is more important that the damage/inconvenience they cause to anyone else. I don’t think this is unique to gen Y, but I do think there is evidence that is growing.

young says:

@No Debt MBA- interesting- in what other ways did the narcissism in generation Y manifest itself according to the study? Seems like the consensus is that it isn’t unique to generation Y, which is nice to hear- others have more faith in the young than myself!