Kids These Days: A Meditation on Generational Crashes
"Our sires' age was worse than our grandsires'. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.”
-Horace, 20 BC
The clash of generations is an age-old battle. From the beginning of humanity to recent times, older generations have looked upon their progeny in disdain and the future of their civilization constantly on the verge of collapse. However, after millennia and 7,500 generations later and despite the inevitable flaws of society as a whole, our world still seems to be standing. However, our bemoaning of those after us never ceases. From internet to daily conversations, age groups clash for their impact on society as a whole. However, people are not necessarily always defined as their generation, just like any other broad generalization.
When it comes to generational clashing, Millennials (1981-1996) are often levied with the most criticism. Generation Z (1997-2010) is often lumped into these criticisms, although they are part of another generation and have only now begun to even enter college (in fact, there is very little data about Generation Z because of the fact that none of the members have been around as adults long enough to be able to accurately draw trends). The Millennial Generation’s most common critiques include millennials being coddled, lazy, self-absorbed, and entitled. Some of these criticisms are associated with education, according to the US Chamber of Commerce. Millennials score higher on average on IQ tests, and they often are reported to have higher self-esteem and expectations and are more extroverted. This is predicted where the stereotypes of self-absorption and entitlement come from. However, on that same vein, more Millennials are starting to become entrepreneurs. About 66% of Millennials are interested in starting a business and currently 27% are self-employed (compared to 6.5% nationally). Millennials are also criticized for being the “boomerang” generation, in which 34% have moved back with their parents. However, just under half pays rent, and 89% assist in paying for living expenses. This criticism may not be a generational issue as much as it is an economic issue. There has not been this many multi-generational homes since the 1950s; much of this is attributed to the 2008 recession, especially since the rise in multi-generational were especially between 2009-2014. While there are grains of truth in stereotypes, it is also important to consider the context and facts before completely discounting a whole age group.
While it can be helpful to study current age group and behavior on such a large scale, it may not be a good idea to take completely assume behaviors can always be attributed to generations because of their formative events or birth date. At the end of the day, generations are made up of people. People learn to grow and adapt in new environments. It’s easy to levy criticism onto the youngest generation out, all generations that will likely make mistakes, but it is also likely they will bring innovation and change to the world. Despite people like Horace claiming that each generation is worse than the last, I don’t think anyone would disagree that we have come a long way from 20 BC to now. Perhaps it would be better to be excited for what each new wave of people has to bring to the table, as well as do our best to bestow upon them the wisdom of the past.