As I am getting older I am trying my best not to become one of those old geezers who hates the generation that comes after them. I don’t want to judge them because they’re lives are easier and they act in ways I’ll never understand. I hated being treated like I was stupid by older people, particularly by Baby-boomers. They were harsh and closed minded, for no reason, and they hated anything new and fun.
I felt like they were just stuck in their ways, slowly becoming like dinosaurs, obsolete and extinct.
Us Millennials are different though. I thought of us like version 2.0. We are smart and long for a kinder more open and forgiving world. We wanted to enjoy life and took no pride in struggling. We wanted to work smarter, not harder. We hated anyone who felt like “authority” and didn’t believe in the pecking order. We also demanded that we could express ourselves and our individuality in all aspects of our lives and rejected most social norms.
Basically, we were awesome!
But we are getting old, we are all getting into our 30s now. We are no longer the generation everyone is watching and talking about. Now everyone is looking at Generation Z, watching and waiting to see what they will do. I am among those who have been watching and luckily one of their members happens to be close to me, my littlest sister, who was born in 2000.
Watching the way she interacts with the world and listening to her thoughts on life has at times made me shake my head in disappointment and disbelief, but there have been other times when she has filled me with hope for the future.
For one, this generation seems to be more diverse than any generation that came before it. For one, more of them identify as non-white. My generation, the Millennials, are about 59.8% Caucasian, 18.5% Hispanic; 14.2%black; 4.3% are Asian; and 3.2% are mixed race or other. Estimates put them at 55% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 14% African-American, 4% Asian, and 4% mixed race or other. A record low for Caucasians,
I hope this means more of them are growing up aware of the racism and oppression that still exists in this country, and I hope they will grow up to change it. In all honesty just taking a look at some of the posts on Tumblr or Twitter about race and race relations shows me that this generation is very aware of the uglier aspects of this country’s history and they want to see some big changes, now!
In addition, more of them identify as gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, trans gender, genderqueer, and a whole host of other labels. They have more ways to identify themselves then I thought were possible. I had no idea that there were so many ways a person could be attracted to another person.
I admit, at first I was resistant. I didn’t get why everyone had to have these labels. My generation had rejected labels in favor of a “it’s none of your business, I’ll do what I want” attitude. But young people these days seem to want to shout to everyone who they are, and they are precise with their wording.
There are words for who you are attracted to sexually, and who you are attracted to romantically. There are words for one gender or the other, or both genders, or neither genders, or a third gender. There are words for your biological sex, your gender identity, and for your gender expression. I won’t pretend I know all of them, and even if I did new ones pop into existence everyday.
This generation is determined to label all the ways in which a human can be and love.
With that diversity comes a very inclusive attitude. Again, and scroll through Tumblr will show you that these kids will not tolerate bullying or hateful language of any kind. They will attack swiftly and in great numbers over hate speech, ignorance, or refusal to use the correct labels and language. If you even look like you might oppress someone with your language you could be targeted.
Basically, if you are white, heterosexual, and you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, you should be careful with your words.
Another thing I am loving about Generation Z is their ability to monetize everything. They have been dubbed the “entrepreneurial generation” and I think they have earned it. These kids are a lot better at branding themselves and using the internet to turn that brand into a living then us Millenials were.
My little sister is always talking to me about new celebrities that she likes and I never know who the hell she is talking about. This is because being famous means something a lot different now then it did to us old folks. Now you don’t have to be on TV or star in a movie to be famous. Now you just have to record funny videos, or write inspirational tweets, or reblog all the best stuff to get followers/fans. Get over a certain amount and BAM, you are famous.
What confused me the most was the devotion my little sister had to these people. She loves these “YouTubers” more than I or anyone I know loves any band or actor. I later realized that was because “internet celebrities” are more accessible to their fans. The internet gives them an easy way to interact with their fans and make them feel included in their success.
Not only that but these kids have learned to make a product, t-shirts, crafts, art, and more, into a business using services such as Etsy, Facebook, and Twitter to sell their wares, and they are doing it without a college education. In fact I think more than any generation before Generation Z rejects higher education. THey see it as an unesessary waste of time and money and instead opt to go right into working for themselves.
So yeah, these kids might not know what it’s like to struggle, and they might be spoiled, and they might not be able to do anything without their phones, but they are going to be ok. I know this because there are so many of them who have inspired me and made me think about things a little differently. Maybe us Millenials don’t have it figured out after all. Maybe there was still room for improvement.
All I know for sure is that we have to get on board or we will become like dinosaurs ourselves, obsolete and extinct.
Prompt via The Daily Post – Generation XYZ
Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you. What do you understand least about them — and what can you learn from them?
Image via https://flic.kr/p/aZbzgi