Finding Clarity in the Madness

Teenagers are a complicated breed- I think this we can all agree on. Writer David Dobbs agrees too. Dobbs, though, wants to know exactly why they act the way that they do. Why the unpredictable mood swings and the impulsive decisions? Dobbs explores this why, and more, in his National Geographic published feature, “Beautiful Brains.” Through his artful and effective implementation of research, Dobbs reveals that perhaps these maddening teen years are in place for a reason. I’m shuddering at the very thought of my moody teenage self as I’m writing this, so I’m ready to hear why the hell we have to go through it.

It is made apparent right from the start of the feature that Dobbs’ targeted audience is parents (so not exactly my curious 21 year old self, but still). One must also consider the typical National Geographic reader, which tends to be more in the adult age range. With this in mind, we can assume this is a decently educated crowd. However, a piece of writing teeming with facts and figures can be overwhelming for anyone, even the Ivy alumni soccer mom. Dobbs utilizes various academic sources to support his claims, though he does so in a way that can be easily comprehended. Any time he utilizes a source or scientific phenomena, like say brain maturation, he delves into a detailed description of what it is or how it works. For my non-scientific brain, I praise Dobbs for this.

Also notable, is the presentation of the piece. Dobbs’ writing is accompanied by powerful and artistically-crafted photography, as well as real-life stories to accompany each of the photos. In using these stories, Dobbs relates to the reader, thus making the research more decipherable and comfortable to read. Not to mention, he often aligns himself with the reader, in referring them as a group of “us parents.” 

Now, I’d say Dobbs has quite a beautiful brain himself.