I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the constant battle between the generations. You know what I mean, the age old “back in my day” and “kids these days”. Every generation seems to think they’re the only ones with their heads on straight and all the others after them are just doing it wrong. It even goes the other way, with younger generations being bitter towards the older because of a perceived lack of forethought on their part, with their past actions affecting the younger generations in a wide variety of ways, not all of them good. It’s no secret (or at least it shouldn’t be) that the situation of millennials is a bit screwed, with the cost of living continually going up but wages not keeping the same pace. All of this leads to a lot of back and forth between young and old, and a lot of resentful feelings.
I remember when I was younger, video games were often the target of politicians and activists, with both claiming that they warped kid’s brains and made them violent. Of course, the science never truly backed that up, but it didn’t stop them nonetheless. It was a new thing that the older folks didn’t understand, and therefore it was dangerous. They didn’t have video games when they were growing up, so it must just be some fad thing that the kids are into these days. And as time went on and it became more apparent that video games were here to stay, they drew more and more criticism from people who probably never played a single game in their lives.
It’s the same with tablets and smart phones in today’s world. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve rolled my eyes when someone says something like “kids these days don’t get outside anymore…they just sit in front of their computer screens and waste away”. Yeah because clearly your generation was the only one that got it right. Everyone else is just stupid.
Wait, which generation thought spanking was an acceptable idea again? I forget.
The thing is, it also goes the other way. Often we of the younger generations are bitter towards our elders because we see them as the root cause for a lot of the issues facing us: climate change, student debt, the rising cost of living, and so on. We felt like we were dealt a bad hand, and that older people just don’t understand that. So we’re bitter, resentful, and grumpy about our lot in life.
“You ruined the planet, and now we have to pick up the pieces,” we often say.
But here’s the kicker: neither side is technically wrong in this.
It’s true, the actions of older generations did have a lot to do with the current climate we live in today, economically and otherwise. But at the same time, there was likely no good way to predict the effects their choices would have thirty or so years down the line. However, there is something to be said about self-awareness, about accepting the fact that choices were made which directly led to the predicament the younger generations are in now.
And the older generations aren’t wrong in the idea that new and popular things should be approached with at least a modicum of caution. Until we know for certain what the effects can be, it might not be wise to simply adopt some new thing or idea without really understanding the ramifications. But again, immediately assuming that it is bad and rallying against it isn’t the answer either.
It all has to do with understanding. Understanding goes a long way toward solving our issues. We should understand that different life situations lead to different mindsets, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. We should understand that, for us as human beings, it’s difficult to chart what effect our choices and actions will have decades later. Sitting down and actually coming together to work on the problems facing us would go a long way.
But instead, it seems most people just want to turn it into a generational pissing contest.
“I was spanked all the time as a kid, and I turned out fine!”
“You voted in people who drove up the price of living, and now we have to deal with it!”
“You young people are so spoiled! You want everything handed to you!”
“You old farts don’t realize how easy you had it compared to us!”
It just goes on and on with no end. And it solves nothing.
Every generation has their faults and successes, their pros and cons. No one is perfect. It’s the human condition. So instead of assuming that one size fits all, maybe we would be better served with a multi-faceted approach to our problems.
Words are just words. Actions are progress.
Thanks for reading! Check back on the third Wednesday of next month for another post, and as always, have a wonderful month!