I try not to make a big deal out of getting old. I’m not there yet, but I can glimpse it from here now and then.
But when I see what the folks my age on social media are posting more and more of lately, I have to wonder if I’m looking at things wrong.
There’s a whole lot of back in my day, kids these days don’t have any idea, my generation could handle things, we didn’t have all this fancy stuff, kids don’t understand how the world works, that’s the way it was and we liked it, young people today have it so easy.
Enough of it that I’m starting to snooze and unfollow people.
I’m a member of GenX, the supposedly selfish ‘me’ generation, the latchkey kids, the kids who had to learn to amuse themselves because their parents didn’t have time (or inclination) to interact with them. (Hey, all the experts say so, so it must be true.) The kids who, as a result of that, are more mentally ready for the pandemic crackdown than any other generation. (Experts are also saying this, apparently.)
GenX is in its 40s and early 50s now and at least some of the people in that age group are adopting motivational habits demonstrated by Boomers and the Silent generation, something those generations inherited from their parents and grandparents, and so on, something that might be a partially universal, complaining about those who come after them.
And I really don’t get how this works, so maybe it’s not quite universal.
If I think back to when older people were making the same complaints about my generation or age cohort, I remember it came across as bitter whining. And you know what, it still does.
Wah, wah, wah. Kids today have stuff that we didn’t have. Kids today don’t care about the things that were important to me growing up because those things don’t all apply to society now and I don’t want to admit it. Kids today sometimes even get the help they need. Kids today have it cushy and easy.
We forget how easy we had it. Partly because we didn’t and partly because we have it easier now.
Parts of the two generations that came before us accelerated and enabled the gathering of resources and wealth into the hands of a few. Parts of the two generations that came before us enabled the erosion of the social fabric and safety net of our society. Parts of the two generations that came before us were the reason we grew up during the height of the cold war when the doomsday clock was always a few seconds from midnight and we half expected to wake up to a nuclear holocaust on any given day.
We’ve reaped the shreds of what was sown before us because that’s what was left and struggled to pretend those shreds are good and right. Now we’re ready to denigrate our children and soon grandchildren because they aren’t grateful for the scraps of the shreds that are left because all of the ridiculous economic, social, and societal policies and practices that have gone on since the end of World War II continue accelerating in the background.
If our kids get to go to post secondary education, they can expect to graduate not with a few thousand dollars in debt, but with tens of thousands.
They bring that debt into a world where the cost of housing has gone up as fast or faster than tuition so there’s almost no way they’ll manage a mortgage until they’re 2/3 of the way to retirement, especially since that student debt counts against them. Never mind that wages and salaries haven’t remotely kept pace.
They’re supposed to be grateful for entry level jobs that keep them barely above the poverty line. Alternately, they’re supposed to be grateful for minimum-wage jobs that don’t and work hard to get something better because those jobs are just for starting out, never mind that minimum wage was originally designed to be able to support a family.
They’re coming with all of that into a world that’s increasingly full of waste with air that’s increasingly hard to breathe and a temperature that’s making existence increasingly difficult for every living thing on the planet. And why is that? Decisions that the major players in previous generations have made, and continue to make, without thought to long-term consequences. Because hey, I got mine, so screw you.
Yeah, kids today have it easy. By all means let’s point the finger at people who had very little to do with the world they’re inheriting and try to make them feel bad about it.
My message to the people who have picked up the habit of complaining about “kids today”, break the habit while you can. If you’re going to collectively whine about whole generations, try to do it somewhere I don’t have to listen. Because I’m sick of it, and I’m going to start calling it out more, and I think we all need to.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by