“Kids today are spoiled by participation trophies!”
“Oh! Old people! They can never think outside the box!”
“Millennials and their avocado toast! Of course they can’t afford housing!”
“The Baby Boomers ruined the earth and the economy for us!”
STOP. Wait a minute. Fill your cup, put some liquor in it.
It is so easy to blame, but the root of blame is ignorance.
The only pathway to true understanding is conversation, research, and asking all the right questions. Blaming a group of people for something you don’t like only hinders the process of understanding what really caused the problem. Then, good luck solving it!
Newsflash: a generation consists of A LOT of people. Think about yourself for a moment. Which generation were you born into? How many of the stereotyped characteristics of that generation actually apply to you? Are you another highly predictable number?
Don’t tell me, let me guess… you’re different!
Actually, we are all different. Yes, a teenager in upper middle class America who attends a private school might have a lot (but not everything!) in common with another teenager in upper middle class America who attends a similar private high school in the same city. But America is not the world.
I’m surprised by how often I need to remind people in North America that America is not the world. When looking at statistics about a generation and studying the characteristics attributed to it, check out where the study was published. Whose data does the study collect? Where are the people under the microscope living?
Why does this matter? It matters because a millennial is not a millennial is not a millennial. Gen X is not Gen X around the whole world. Gen Z means something very different to kids in Amsterdam vs. kids in Palestine. And people are all very different.
Our understanding of generations, their hopes and dreams, and their trials and tribulations, is key in a globalized economy. Even if we are not from America, we currently have to live with the prescribed stereotypes of our respective generations and navigate them in all that we do, from how we are treated at work, to how we are judged for the way we raise our children – because everyone is judged in one way or another when they start raising children.
I am more of a global citizen than my grandparents, and my grandchildren will certainly be more globally fluid than me. How will we protect the kids who are on their way to us, if we are still hung up on generalizations about vast numbers of people?
Perhaps it’s time to make an effort instead of making an ignorant judgement. When we classify people according to a rule book without considering that every rule book is biased, we miss out on the opportunity to learn from them.
Yes, I am daring to wager that we can all learn a thing or two from Gen Z. Yeah, the ones who love their cellphones, and think Facebook is outdated. They are a world ahead of you and I, a millennial, who is already struggling to keep up with the tokens of genius that my younger brother comes up with.
Serve the world with an open heart, or risk missing out on all its wonder.
And remember… we design our own luck!