‘Kids these days…”

It’s a line heard all too often, used from generation to generation to give older people a potentially undeserved sense of superiority. A repurposed attitude claiming that the younger generations of today are inherently worse because of some aspect of their lifestyle that these people would never have subscribed to when they were that age. 

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Today, with access blogs, social media and comments sections, anyone – young or old – has the freedom to be vocal, and it seems that the dominating attitude from the grumpy, middle-aged man scrolling through his Facebook is that our generation, the generation that grew up with technology, has become selfish, narcissistic, lazy, entitled and far, far too sensitive.

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It’s an argument that has been pulled apart, analysed and discussed to death: the generation always on their phones, never appreciating what they have – the ‘Me Me Me’ generation as Time magazine put it. But isn’t it long time we turned the tables and examined the reasons behind this seemingly irrational contempt?

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It’s ironic that many older people who – generally speaking – played a role in the economic collapse, our shoddy housing market and lack of employment opportunities continually suggest that that Gens Y and Z are the selfish ones. The current economic situation would suggest that not many are in favour of young people either: a generation forced to live at home well into their twenties, working unpaid internships, paying university debts that weren’t nearly as high in previous years and on completion not even being guaranteed work in their desired field.  So, why is it that society, including members of our own generation, insist on attacking and putting down what is supposed to be our future?

Is it merely resentment and nostalgia that makes some people frustrated? Maybe they’re envious of our adaptability to a vastly expanding technological world, feeling sentimental towards a time where they were once the promising generation.

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Or perhaps it is some older people’s lack of empathy, which further exacerbates another common critique of millennials as the ‘sensitive’ generation.

As political correctness begins to dominate mainstream society, younger generations accept and embrace it, whereas some older generations are more prone to sticking to their view of life, no matter how harmful it could be to others. And so, as millennials become more socially aware and start to tell their parents and grandparents, “no, you can’t say that anymore”, a certain defence mechanism is induced; the ‘get over it’ attitude.

Millennials are fast adapting kids; over the past decade social issues have been at the forefront, and so the discourse used today differs extensively in comparison to some twenty years ago. Just as life changes around us, so does language; however for some, it is a breach of freedom to tell an older, bigoted person that they are being offensive.

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But are we not freeing and giving comfort to those minorities and those oppressed by slightly moderating what we say? Is this really a breach of an older person’s freedom if someone from our generation reminds them that the appropriate language has changed? After all the years of oppression, is it not fair that patriarchal and bigoted ideas get shut down?

I’ve seen time after time people put down millennials for things that just aren’t true, with even our fellow generation jumping on the bandwagon. Complaints of never going outdoors, being selfish children, disrespectful, not ‘understanding’ hard work. It’s as if this era of technology is, for some reason, destroying humanity. But isn’t it time we started embracing the changes and loved the future of our world?

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I know lazy, selfish and unappreciative millennials. I also know millennials that work hard. We all have our bad eggs, every single generation has had their faults. And every single generation after that are only children adapting to a society that the before created. It’s time to start looking at what we can do instead of what we don’t do. We are a fast growing generation, one that has to prove ourselves daily, but let’s take the next step and start seeing the positives of our society.

When I’m older I’ll certainly be grumpy, pissed off and nostalgic. But I hope to always be someone that adapts and embraces the ever-changing society we live in, and I hope to see other millennials follow this path too.

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Written by Jessica Clausen