Mending the Generation Gap
May 3, 2017
Socrates (469–399 B.C.)
QUOTATION: The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties (delicacies) at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
It’s hard to imagine why Socrates was so bothered by young people crossing their legs or eating fancy food, but like many insults hurled at a certain age group, they are usually unfair and harsh.
“Lazy entitled millennials,” we hear as a bash towards young people from older generations.
“Hypocritical baby-boomers,” millennials retort.
It seems like this back and forth spat between older and younger generations has been going on for all of human history, and it shows no signs of stopping.
There is never a lack of older people telling younger people that their ways of life are wrong as much as there are always kids ready to snap back.
A video of a rant by Simon Sinek, an author and “leadership consultant”, went viral after Baby Boomers and Gen-X’ers shared it all over social media. Sinek describes millennials as “entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, and lazy” but he tries to soften the blow by saying it’s not their fault. Thanks, middle-aged random dude who cites no sources in his smug assessment of millennials.
Millennial’s are quick to counter such criticisms with articles that give them ammo for their jabs at baby boomers and Gen-X’ers. “Baby Boomers are the Worst Generation” from Esquire and “Baby boomers have been a disaster for America, and Trump is their biggest mistake yet” from The Washington Post can serve as sourced evidence of how bad older people are.
Get with it, old people!
However, with all this blame and criticism flung across the age groups and generations, it will be a lot harder for people to, at a time when we need it perhaps more than ever, to come together.
We can call out Baby Boomers for destroying the housing market and being able to buy a home with a 40 hour work week job and expecting millennials to do the same.
Sure, Baby Boomers can call us out on putting too much importance to our social media lives, just as well as we can call out Gen-X’ers for being cynical and lulled out on pharmaceutical pills during a period with no major war, low crime-rates, and economic expansion.
Millennials can get called out for spending too much time on social media and being overly nostalgic for their childhoods and perhaps being more emotionally stunted than their parents.
What will all this blaming do for us?
In this time of shifts in power, racial and social strife, systematic violence, and gross injustice, finding ways to divide people should not be the focus.
It is perhaps more important for older generations to focus on the strengths of newer generations and lead them with the wisdom that they have learned so that the children can be leaders of a brighter future.
While we can always find something to pick on young people, it is more important that we have faith in the young.