Young people. Old people. The constant cycle of aging and raising the next generation of sapient hairless apes to do it all over again. It’s the ciiiircle of liiiife, and it moves us aaaalll~ Wait, no, it really doesn’t. What it does for at least some people is create intergenerational conflict. The old people grumble how disrespectful and foolish the youngsters are, the young people grumble that their elders are a bunch of curmudgeonly sticks-in-the-mud who don’t know how to have fun, everyone has a wretched time and neither group manages to convince the other of anything, you know how it goes. It’s not exactly a new thing. Supposedly, there is archaeological evidence of people even before 2000 BC complaining about disobedient youths. (Sadly, despite all my language studies, I do not know how to say “Get off my lawn, you gol-darned punks” in ancient Sumerian.)
Then, of course, you have the lifestyle comparisons. We know how it goes…nobody ever drove you to school when it was 90 degrees below, you had to walk butt naked through forty miles of snow, you worked in the coal mine 22 hours a day for just half a cent, and all that. I guess I’ve been fortunate enough never to hear the old “back in my day, blahdeeblahdeeblargh!” rant. (Well, there was that one time my dad insisted that they had to sit on cactuses when he was a kid due to not having such luxuries as inverted buckets to sit on, but that was an obvious jest.) And modern stuff sucks, too. The thing is, it sometimes goes both ways. Sure, maybe not everyone over 50 knows how to use a smartphone (and I can’t say I blame them too much; I don’t use one either, and frankly, screw touchscreens in general), but how many people born in the ’90s or later are intricately familiar with a sewing machine or a manual typewriter? And those aren’t even that old. Besides, I’m not sure how well the argument about how easy these kids have it nowadays quite works at the time of this writing either…we don’t know how good we have it? In this economy? I’m pretty sure that back when candy bars were only a nickel, people also did not frequently have enough college debt to buy a small house. Not to mention I’d be willing to bet most of the people responsible for the financial crisis in the first place were no spring chickens either. Though if nothing else, that might give my generation some pretty bang-up fuel for our own rants when we get old.
That now brings me to the main point here…eventually. Apparently, I’m one of the millennials, or generation Y, if you will. And as I said, I’ve never really been the target of much, if any, grouchy old man/woman ire myself (grouchy teenager ire, on the other hand…); pretty much all the people I know who are 3 to 6 decades older than me are actually pretty cool. (And if any of them are reading this, you guys know who you are. Keep being great.) I’d at least like to think that I can get along and converse reasonably well with people of basically any age. Oh, you’re a retired teacher and grandmother who feels like chatting about your family, projects, and life in general? Indeed, that’s a pretty cute knitted shawl you have there, and isn’t it really a shame how few people are learning cursive nowadays? You’re a little boy who would like me to read you a story about underpants-wearing superheroes? Sure, may I make up voices for the characters? You’re a person around my age who’s stressed out by college, is in a shaky financial situation, and plays a few video games on the side? Yeah, getting textbooks directly from the school is a rip-off, but I’ve found some pretty decent places for buying them online. Best of luck on finals! Oh, and don’t forget about that upcoming Steam sale after the semester is over.
At the same time, though, I already feel like a grouchy old man in some ways, and I’m only 25. I may not be old enough to have lived before most modern technology existed, but my generation might be the last to know a time when nobody had a cell phone, home console video games came on cartridges, dial-up Internet service was a thing (dial-up? heck, I didn’t even have the Internet until I was about 11), and the only books you could get were the kind made out of slices of processed dead trees. Yes, some millennials definitely have problems, such as entitlement, irresponsibility, or wearing their pants too low. But that’s true for literally every generation, even if the specific problems faced were not the same. Every decade had its weird fashion statements and dumb lifestyle choices, whether the people of the time were wearing bell bottoms or emo outfits, smoking pot or tripping on LSD, dealing with a recession or a draft. I think people of widely different ages are more alike than we often realize, and that rather than dismissing another generation offhand, what we really need is a sense of solidarity and mutual respect.