Jai Herbert In-Action. Photo Credit @ FightPost

⛔️ Problem: Our youth today lack role models. ⛔️

Their smartphone screens are an endless, rolling stream of social media ‘influencers’. But do any of these ‘role models’ offer anything of real substance? Anything of real value for our youth to translate into their own lives? Unlikely. 

The reality is, the majority of these ‘influencers’ are simply advertising-machines. Smoke & mirror ‘perfect’ lives. Carefully selected filters, best angles, optimised lighting… 

And of course – never any behind-the-scenes footage of what their lives are really like. Just a thinly-veiled conveyor-belt of product ‘recommendations’.

There’s a huge disconnect from the lives these self-proclaimed role-models present, to the reality many of our children & adolescents face.  

Statistics show that school children happiness levels are nose diving across the UK. 📉

The Midlands is no exception. In fact, the statistics are even more sobering than the national average.

Why? 

It comes down to a simple equation. Happiness = Reality ÷ Expectations.

The false realities these social media influencers present to our youth breeds the expectation that their lives should be the same. But it’s setting them up for a fall. The rules of the game are rigged. The result? Deep insecurity.

Unfortunately, insecurity sells (trust me, I’ve worked in Advertising…).

And that’s an optimistic view-point… 

Photo Credit @ West Midlands Police

Unfortunately, the shadow-side to social media has its own, far darker side.

A worrying trend has developed over the past few years. The social media skills of many youth gangs across the Midlands rivals that of London’s best PR companies. In the wrong hands, these channels become the gang’s perfect platforms to lionise their latest crimes. 

Cash, jewellery, designer trainers, flashy cars.

It’s a lifestyle that looks attractive to impressionable eyes. Especially ones with nowhere else to look to.

Gangs deliberately target the most vulnerable in the community. Using their online presence to glamourise their lifestyles, to allure and groom susceptible youngsters into new recruits.

But there’s no point just trying to ban our kids from social media (I’m sure any parent who’s tried can attest!)

For better or worse, social media exists and it’s here to stay. So what can be done about it?

💡 We need to offer a better alternative. 💡

The boxing ring or wrestling cage might seem like an unlikely place to find a solution, but at InPower, we know it can be. 

Let’s be frank, you’d be hard pressed to find better examples of people triumphing over greater adversity, than professional fighters. And THAT is exactly the kind of example our kids need. 

Many of the kids on our Midlands martial arts programs face considerable challenges. Both at home and at school. For some, on the streets. 

In the many moments of difficulty they face; their social media ‘role-models’ provide no value. And the Nihilistic attraction of the gangland lifestyle still lurks in the background.

Humans understand life through stories. We take TRUE inspiration from REAL stories. 📚

There are few better examples for dealing with the reality of living, than the stories of many professional fighters. 

Whether or not we agree on the morality of combat sports, it’s hard to deny the grit and resilience of the men & women who participate in them. 

Our youth live in an age of noise and distraction. Illusion and confusion. All focus on convenience, zero focus on meaning.

But when life gets tough, beyond the glitz and glamour of the Instagram screen… the raw, gritty and often unfair reality these kids face, THAT’S where they need their role-models. And there are few people with a greater understanding of the raw reality of life, than professional martial artists. 

But what about the second problem; the online presence of gangs?

Gangs target the young and most vulnerable for a reason. Their lack of self-identity and role-models makes them easier prey to the lifestyles posted online by gangs as bait.

But having the right influences in their lives, and seeing themselves as Martial Artists, equips our youth with that sense of identity. To know who they really are. To know who they really want to be. To discover their own goals and values, and arm themselves against the ‘aspirations’ which gangs would have them follow.

We cannot hope to shield our youth from negative influences. We must instead focus on equipping our youth on building their own armour against them. We CAN provide a better alternative.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

What about Conor McGregor’s recent behaviour? What about ‘that’ Tyson vs. Holyfield fight

Yes, I ‘ear what you’re saying. (Sorry, bad taste…)

I’m not saying every martial artists always set the example we’d hope for. Especially during the sound & fury of hyped-up press conferences, media-fueled rivalries, and the adrenaline surge under the glaring lights of the ring. 

But if we look at the behind-the-scenes of lives of many professional fighters, I do believe our youth can find valuable life-lessons in resilience. Something of real substance. Something to fortify themselves in their own struggles against adversity.

And with that goal in mind – we are working on the release of a blog series of interviews & case studies of professional fighters across the Midlands. 

Local men & women who provide valuable life-advice lessons in resilience and determination. 

Make sure to follow us on InstagramLinkedin & Facebook to stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.