“Young people can get very discouraged and get hooked on drugs or on alcohol because of problems they perceive as insurmountable.
It is important that they realize a mistake need not ruin their future, but they must also know that not everything in life is a bed of roses.”
“Sometimes, people can be extraordinarily judgmental and closed-minded to anyone different or special, which is why it’s so hard for young people in this day and age to be comfortable enough in their own skin to not listen to the people picking on them.”
I just had a meeting with a young professional and I found myself in the odd position of arguing with them about … well … themselves <and their generation>.
This generation is not defined by a short attention span.
This generation is not defined by selfies.
This generation is not defined by lack of human interaction skills <being disconnected>.
This generation is not defined by a sense of entitlement.
This generation is not defined by ‘soft’ <or inability to accept criticism>.
This generation is not … well … suffice it to say there was a shitload of “not” generational debunking.
We old folk have not only convinced the young they are crap but also convinced them everything they are doing is coming at the expense of something good <therefore they are fostering ‘badness’ and ‘bad traits’ which make them less suitable for success in the world.
To be clear … there may be slivers of truth found within the generational attribute ‘flaws’ we have burdened this generation with but, frankly, almost every young generation has been burdened with these ‘flaws’ <which would not make them flaws, would it?>. However, we have made these slivers into gorilla sized burdens we demand each and every young person to carry with them wherever they go <AND … we point it out just in case they forget they are carrying it>.
Let me tell ya … all this certainly sucks.
They have bought the snake oil we older folk <and gobs of social media pop psychologists> have sold them.
While every generation certainly asks every younger generation “why can’t you be more like us/me?” this generation’s conflict is taking place at some absurd levels … and the conflict is costing us our young people’s minds.
We have convinced them they are lazy, narcissistic, unable to read, write or do arithmetic, and are losers because all we taught them was everyone was winners.
And while they know better than that when they actually think about it, and themselves, a variety of shit has been pounded into their heads so far by pop psychologists, society and older people that they actually start believing some fairly insidious aspects.
Having been convinced that they have shorter attention spans <pick the pop culture rationale du jour> they actually start acting as if they really have short attention spans … FOR EVERYTHING … and assume everyone now has shorter attentions spans … FOR EVERYTHING … which drives how they think about their lives professionally and personally.
Let me be clear on this one … while pop culture highlights shorter attention spans in studies they neglect to point out that it is from like 12 seconds to 8 seconds.
And that’s the kind of crap that fosters a mindset which … well … inhibits young people from thinking more broadly with regard to solutions and ideas and behavior. Because they have been convinced that their generation is “x” they automatically walk down their Life path with those “x glasses” on.
I could point out a study done in Germany where the researchers basically found that Old People Hate Young People <the researchers found that older people were more likely to choose to read negative articles about those younger than themselves. They also tended to show less interest in articles about older people, whether negative or positive>.
But old people don’t hate young people … they just hate that they don’t do things the way old people did hem when they were young. Therefore we old folk have built a variety of negative myths surrounding all the young people’s actions to point out how what they are doing is detrimental and creating behavior they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.
But here is where it is killing the younger people. While they certainly feel a strong sense of individuality and creating some space from the old folk who are constantly bitching at them for what they are doing … they still believe the overarching bullshit fake psychology attached to the shit they like to do.
This issue drives me crazy. Frickin’ crazy.
The look on a young person’s face when they have spouted off all the old person tripe about their attention span deficit and a need for shorter messages and soundbites <#1 example tossed out is the 140 character twitter it seems> and I lean forward and ask “did you go see Hunger Games or read the books?” … how about John Green books? … did you play Call of Duty for 3 hours? … have you talked recently with your best friend for over an hour?
My point is attention span is driven by interest & experience. People, anyone at any age, will invest as much time as they are interested in the experience.
They are only “generation self” because we have created this thought in their heads.
They are as social, they are as smart, they are as open minded, hardworking, focused and whatever else you want to add to the list as we were when we were know-it-all, get out of my way you old farts, rebellious, lazy up-to-no-good young people.
They do not have extraordinarily shorter attention spans than we did at their age.
They do not feel any more entitled than we did at their age … albeit the way we treat them makes them push back harder against us old folk which APPEARS like entitlement to us as we sit there in our expensive chairs in irritation.
They are not the selfie generation … for gods sake … my generation made Kodak one of the greatest brands in the world <and even if they are … we older folk have completely missed the value of selfies>.
They are not ‘disconnected’ or lacking in communication skills … they are more culturally connected at an earlier age and communicating on a variety of levels that would make us older folks head spin if thrown into that world.
They are not ‘soft’ or pampered … think about this … over 50% grew up in a divorced household … almost all grew up in a world recession … any one of them going to college or considering college is facing more debt than any of us older folk had … does any of that sound ‘soft’ or not teaching the young that world is tough, hard & often unfair?
I encourage all old people to stop telling young people what they are.
I encourage all young people to think what they want to think about themselves and their generation through their own filter and not one designed by some bunch of old farts nostalgic for the way it was done in the past.
“Help young people. Help small guys.
Because small guys will be big.
Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.”
I sometimes think we older folk forget that everything we say, and in fact, the more adamantly we say it, plants seeds of thought in a young person’s head. We can plant good seeds or bad seeds. That is on us.
Stop believing everything that is being told about you and start believing in what you actually think about yourself.
“It’s about time we make the well-being of our young people more important than ideology and politics.”