Quit stereotyping generations; allow the youth to be different

January 24, 2016

Mara Green

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     Generation’s dislikes for one another is not a new trend.

     Around 350 B.C., Aristotle criticized the younger generation, stating that this age group lived by their emotions rather than logic.

     Older adults from 1890 would say that the youth in 1940 were rebellious, quick-tempered and disrespectful while they heard the same concerns from their parents not 40 years prior.

     Each generation preaches demeaning labels toward younger age groups that bunch people into one negative generalization.

     In today’s case: lack of empathy and stubbornness.

     Those in the millennial generation, ages 18-24 years old, surpassed the baby boomer generation (ages 51-69) by 75.4 million, according to the Pew Research Center.

     Millennials are often criticized for not contributing to their communities, being lazy and refusing to respect their elders. Journalist Joel Stein summed up this criticism in a 2013 TIME Magazine article.

     “Not only do millennials lack the kind of empathy that allows them to feel concerned for others, but they also have trouble even intellectually understanding others’ point of view,” said Stein.

     But millennials shouldn’t be summed up into one generalized group. The minority of millennials that fit the stereotype are just that – a small part of a bigger story.

     According to the Millennial Impact Report, 70 percent of millennials donated an hour of their time to a selfless cause. And in an age where minimum wage isn’t enough to pay the rent, time is money.

     So why spend what time you do have between school and work volunteering? Because millennials empathize with and understand those who are less privileged. Whether it’s donating time to a humane society, blood drive or homeless shelter, you’re making a physical difference.

     I’ve seen students with triple-digit hours in volunteer service in one semester who also maintain their 100,000 followers on Instagram. To the baby boomers who love multi-tasking: you’re looking at the world’s finest.

     Every generation shares the trait of perseverance. The youth in each generation start movements for diversity, human and civil rights, along with a better understanding of equality.

     And here we have it, being told the same ideas that our parents heard from their parents and so on. They were also told their ideas would amount to nothing or that they’re wrong for seeing the world differently.

     Are we looking down on kids today because of their rebellion or because we don’t want to see them change the way we view the world?

     We’re stuck in our ways and tired of hearing someone with less experience tell us we’re seeing everything wrong.

     Praise the youth for having imagination, for having new ideas, for turning their backs to the norm and finding ways to improve others’ lives. They’re just using tools passed down to them by older generations.

     So instead of calling millennials self-centered and the me-generation, see them as the generation that you raised with your own rebellion—continuing your legacy and changing the world for the better.