So then, let us talk about this “new generation”.
Pause for a moment. Sit back, close your eyes, and answer the following question: “Describe this ‘new generation’ in one or two words”.
So what did you come up with? “Spoiled”? “Entitled?” “Disrespectful”?
I posed this question to adults (ages 30-65). They replied:
“Refuses to try.”
“Overdosed on technology.”
And my favorite answer of all: “Young.”
Yes, it seems that when it comes to this “new generation”, we have it all figured out. In summary, they suck.
But sometimes it seems that the conversation ends right there. “This generation sucks.” Period.
But I’m not so sure.
I find myself inclined to pursue this matter a bit further. Perhaps it’s out of curiosity, or frustration, or even spite! But I’m tempted to ask the altogether immense and terrifying question: why? WHY does this “new generation” suck? And how did they get to “sucking” so?
But then I had an idea. Wouldn’t it be interesting to turn the tables first and ask THEM what they think of US?
So I did. I posed this question to local teenagers: “Describe the present adult generation (ages 30-65) in one or two words”. They replied:
It seems that when it comes to my “old generation”, teens have it all figured out. In summary, we suck.
Throughout my eight years of classroom experience in and around the Dearborn community working in both public and private schools teaching a complete range of 12- to 18-year-olds every subject from language arts to history to math to music to chess, it is needless to say that I have spent a great deal of time with teens! I’ve talked to them, yelled at them, cried with them, laughed with them—eaten and drunk and danced and run with them! Yet over the years, despite the world’s insistence that we are being succeeded by a hopeless soulless cultureless insolent youth, I couldn’t help but feel like something quite different was happening.
The truth is this: yes, modern-day teens ARE disrespectful. They ARE entitled. They ARE addicted to technology. But they are ALSO ambitious. Intelligent. Skilled. Creative. Witty and humorous—hilarious, in fact. They are culturally literate. Resourceful. Original. Curious. They are high-caliber problem-solvers.
And they are abused. Ignored. Undervalued. Neglected. Ceaselessly Judged. Mistrusted.
I don’t think the arguably greatest generation gap in history can be resolved with answers “in one or two words”. In fact, I’m not sure if it can be resolved at all. And though I admit that I lack the empirical data and expertise to address this issue academically, what I DO have is far more important and imperative: I have questions. And a great deal of curiosity. So I urge you, my Most Esteemed Reader, to join me on this quest for discovery to address both sides of the Question of The “Suckiest” Generation: Which one is it?
Is it this “new generation” (call it Generation Z or the Boomlet Generation or what-have-you)? Is it their parents, the Millennials? Is it THEIR parents, Generation X? Do we ALL suck? Do none of us suck at all? Or is there something much more intricate and complicated going on here?
I don’t know. But what I DO know is this: my Fellow Readers—both teenagers AND adults—we need to have a talk.