Will Call: Talkin’ ‘bout generations
Commonly attributed to Socrates is a quote of which one variation runs, “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them.”
While there is no solid evidence to back up the attribution, the myth itself has been circulating for at least the better part of the century, so the point remains: Each generation looks down on the next.
The Greatest Generation probably still views the baby boomers as a bunch of rabble rousers who never appreciated how good they had it. Generation X has a reputation as apathetic, while Millennials like myself are supposedly unreliable and naive.
Sure, my cohorts have demonstrated a willingness to give up a stable job to pursue an entirely different career or even take an extended honeymoon in Mexico. I’m not sure you can blame us for being less career oriented, though, given that we entered adulthood amid layoffs and cut pensions.
In any case, as those of us with no memory of the Cold War begin to prove ourselves as adults, the same cycle of generalization is already turning towards our younger siblings.
Dubbed the iGeneration, the current crop of kids is bemoaned as too attached to their gadgets to play outside and so used to constant reinforcement that they lack real drive.
Two years as the education reporter and six months of weekly student spotlights have convinced me that that idea’s pure baloney.
Admittedly, I generally interact with the brightest kids on their best behavior. Still, I suspect the sources of these stereotypes are even less informed than myself. Most of us would be lucky to be half as articulate as the mock trial team, as driven as the athletes, or as talented as the artists.
Yes, I’ve seen plenty of youngsters playing Candy Crush in a waiting room, but I also see them hiking with their parents, biking around town, and singing the same rhymes their grandparents did at their age. Moreover, I’ve seen plenty of older people glued to their phones or constantly posting on Facebook.
It’s one thing to forget what brats we were when confronted with immaturity; it’s another to blame an age group for a societywide trend.
When the middle aged crowd at a classic rock concert can stop filming the performance with their phones, they’re welcome to criticize me for texting during dinner. When I stop softening my morning commute with audiobooks, I’ll start judging my coworkers who use headphones to concentrate on their writing.
This month, our community is celebrating the transition to adulthood for hundreds of students weaned on high mountain air and community spirit.
I’d challenge anyone who sees the youth as a lost cause to attend at least one graduation. Even if their valedictorian speeches are inspired by Harry Potter, I suspect you’ll be impressed.
It’s natural to worry about the future and grumble about the changes we see. There’s a very real and understandable fear of society going backwards. Still, when you look around, you have to admit it would be almost as bad if it stayed the same.
Will Grandbois has high hopes for Gabrielle Coleman, Miguel Fabela, Amber Hahn, Luke Klotz, Josh Shied, Hattie Rensberry, Robbie Thompson and all the other local graduates. He can be reached at 384-9105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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