Tyler Selig
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Generation vs Generation

Those damn kids.

Image by Francesca Saraco.

I'm about to tell you something that you already know, and if you aren't for some reason aware of this then you must have some kind of superpower. We get older. I know, shocking. We eat, we sleep, we get older, we die; these are some of the certainties in life that everyone must face. But there is another common thread among those who have reached adulthood, one that creeps up on most people that have lived a fuller life, or been around long enough to notice substantial changes in their communities and the world at large.

I'm talking about the generational war. This is not a war fought with guns, nor is it from an unfixable dispute between nations. The mortality rate is low, and theoretically it could be fought without either side actually impacting one another. However, it is seemingly a war without end, an ideological loop, something that many of us will indulge in quite frequently. We don't necessarily have a solution, but we do know where it begins. The origins can be traced back to the simple conceit of "when I was younger..."

Okay, so maybe seniors hating kid stuff doesn't appear to be of any grave importance in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps that's correct. There are certainly bigger fish to fry, but I would argue that this debate is essential because it targets the generational divide that we are all entrenched in, whether you're ten or fifty. A lack of understanding is harmful and any social divide is detrimental to a civilized society.

It's simpler to look at what someone else is doing and judge them for it without comprehending why they're doing it. The path of least resistance is merely passing it off as younger people lacking the same common sense/worth ethic/intelligence/dedication and whatever other words you want to use to describe them. You could do that while you're alone or even among your friends and the changes to the bigger picture will be miniscule at best, but it's disconcerting to me that so many people have so little faith in each other.

Nowhere is that more evident than with Millennials, a generation that is often used as a scapegoat, and one that I happen to apparently be a part of, having been born in 1985. I could have chosen any generation but this one seems more apt since I partake in it. I say partake because one issue that people often find is that they are too dependent on technology, but the reality is that most of the people criticizing kids and their phones would have been on them all the time too if they existed in the same way. In fact, I've noticed that a lot of seniors become addicted to technology, specifically the internet, when they realize how cool and revolutionary it is.

This doesn't mean that everything is perfect for Millennials or any other generation. As we move forward on this sphere that we call Earth, every single person or group has a unique challenge to face and overcome. There are certainly aspects of culture now that are painful to watch, but it's important to note that it's because of where we have gone, what we invent, who we trust, how the world alters events... not because of some imaginary classification that literally encompasses decades in its definition. 

Humans differ so much in how they act that defining large groups of people in terms of generations is problematic. I don't think we should complicate matters by doing this, but hypothetically speaking, wouldn't it be more efficient to name each decade--or half-decade--based on what advancements and dilemmas it caused? At least then we'd have a way to quantify it with a more accurate method than perception. I nominate "The Popstar Taylor Swift Decade" for this one because who else can say that Apple bowed to them and changed their policies the day after she expressed discontent? No?

A classic story that many of us have heard is that in the past kids were sent out to work when they were much younger than they are now. Despite the fact that it could potentially be damaging, due to basically killing a real childhood, it could also create a great work ethic, which would obviously benefit them later on. It's hard to tell, but this idea that earlier generations work harder is a myth and is largely dependent on perceiving work in a way that just isn't true anymore. Don't get me wrong, there was a distinct focus on manual labour that was present decades ago, but that doesn't mean that what people do these days isn't just as taxing.

I've targeted older people and their views on what teenagers and young adults do these days, but it works both ways. We do need to respect our elders, but not for the reason you may think: while it's good practice to respect people by default, nobody is owed it just for being around longer. We should respect our elders because they are human beings, and a little bit of kindness goes far.

We just need to accept what we don't understand. It is such an overused word, but all that is required is a little tolerance, a willingness to engage and listen. Maybe then the war will cease, but for now it wages on.

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