I suppose what really grinds my gears when I hear older generations talking about how spoilt we are is the array of assumptions that are made.The last 10 days has been a political roller coaster to say the least, and as a politics student, I have never felt more overwhelmed with questions, thoughts, and ideas. An aspect that I have found particularly prominent in all the political discourse is this question of a generational divide. Old people want to dismantle the establishments that have ‘destroyed their livelihoods’, and young people want to continue to live and grow in a system that they hope will deliver on the ‘American dream’. For whatever reason, no one can deny that this rise in conservatism and anti-globalisation has just about climaxed in the last 6 months. So why does there seem to be such a generational disconnect that could see major economies rolling back on what we would consider years of post-war political and economic development?
I suppose what really grinds my gears when I hear older generations talking about how spoilt we are is the array of assumptions that are made.
Well I find a big part of this is due to what different generations expect of modern government and their promises of globalisation. Older generations expect security, stability, preservation of their livelihoods and traditional societal values. We expect opportunities, freedom of movement, the expansion of libertarian values, but most importantly, a chance at life. A chance that the baby boomers of the 60’s no doubt benefitted from. For example, 30-40 years ago, it took between 2-5 years to save up to get a deposit for a house. Now, it takes people about 10-12 years. In the same way, the post war generation could comfortably survive on one income and have as many children as they could physically house. Today, the birth rate is as low as it has ever been. And while it is easy for prominent political figures to fob this off as a decline in morality and family values, the reality is, most people can’t afford them. I suppose what really grinds my gears when I hear older generations talking about how spoilt we are is the array of assumptions that are made. More often than not you’d hear discourse along the lines of “young people don’t want to work; young people have it so easy with all these fancy gadgets; young people have no sense of family; young people have lost their way; young people have been ruined with all this feminism nonsense, etc.”
Yes, technology and social media has made things a lot easier for us. More so than anyone could have ever anticipated. But it has also been a curse in many ways. While the media and internet has given everyone a voice, it has not given all the right people a voice. I mean, could we possibly ever imagine a mass of racist, sexist, homophobic and close minded individuals banding together to form a political movement that could one day represent the majority of individuals in a country? No…just impossible. And yet, we see that the number of hate crimes around the developed world have increased, hate groups have become more emboldened and scores of young people are subject to ‘keyboard warriors’ that consistently call into question the legitimacy and rights of individuals to exist as just that- individuals.
The bottom line here is, we don’t have it any easier. We are not warped or socially inept; we are not any more greedy or selfish than previous generations that sought to pave their own way in life. We are no less ambitious or less willing to be good members of society than generations before us. We are however, dealing with an extraordinary set of circumstances; more than the people who could just toss their political sensibilities into a red or blue hat and call it a day. We ARE more educated and that is just a consequence of the times and the amount of resources at our disposal. Let’s think of this the next time we consider writing off a group of people just as anxious and motivated and confused as all 20 year olds have been since the genesis of humanity.