A lot of “older” people complain about our young people today. Millennials, for example, have gotten a bad rap for years. We have heard things about them not knowing how to work hard, living at home way past the time they should be adulting on their own and having no ambition. Many feel that they have a need for instant gratification and they don’t know a world that doesn’t fit into the palm of their hand. They are known for having a social media presence and having always lived in a digital world. It’s true that while most of our young people don’t know a world without the internet, there are people in their 30s who remember life prior to the great inter web and phones really weren’t popular until our current 25 year olds started high school. Then there is Generation Z. Generation Z is our current 13-24 year olds. This truly is a generation who knows nothing but a digital world and had a cell phone by the time they hit middle school.
For all the negative things that might be said, we don’t have to look any further than ourselves. We brought these generations the internet and we put these smartphones in their hands. We brought divisiveness and gun violence whether we want to admit it or not. When I think back to my own days in school the biggest thing we had to worry about were things that would be considered inconveniences today. For example, finding a phone to call home, having only 3 channels on your TV and having to wait a week for your film to be developed to see if your photos came out okay.
While our kids have it easy in comparison to those kind of day to day things, let’s remember that they also deal with some serious issues. Gun violence in our schools wasn’t even a thing we considered and our kids do active shooter drills regularly. Social media has caused severe anxiety and depression that we never saw coming twenty years ago. Likes and dislikes and internet bullying have taken peer pressure to a whole new level. In fact, if you have watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, chances are you are squirming as you read this because you know what we have done to our young people. The Coronavirus pandemic is only 7 months old, but it will have a lasting impact on all of us, most especially our young people. These kids have dealt with things that we couldn’t even imagine when we were their age.
My girls actually fall into two generations. My oldest barely falls into the Millennial category while my youngest two fall into Generation Z. Of course , there are always exceptions and categorizing an entire generation of people based on the year they were born is very much a generalization. There will always be defining moments and inventions that define certain eras. The Millennials and Generation Z straddle an era in which technology and social issues are at the forefront. In fact, their destiny remains to be seen. While many remain skeptical, some say these young people could also be the ones who save us all.
How could this be true if they are just a bunch of self-entitled, instant-gratification seeking internet robots? If we look past all the superficial things, that by the way our parents also had to look beyond with us, you will see what I see; a group of resilient young people.
They are a diverse group who see past racial lines and accept people for who they are. They look for what binds them versus separates them. They are a group of young people who have lost their first real jobs, can’t find jobs out of college and are beginning college in the midst of a global pandemic. For those that say, how hard is it to stay home, I get it. It’s not hard for awhile, but I think all of us are a little restless at this point. This is a generation that has begun to learn remotely this year without much human contact. They have been served up one disappointment after another. Graduations, weddings, milestone birthdays and every major celebration has been taken away and yet they move forward. Instead of waiting it out, they have continued on. This is a generation, that in spite of what they have been handed or maybe because of it, knows how to RETHINK, they know how to RALLY and they TRY AGAIN. They know how to FORGIVE and they BELIEVE in better days.
I have been watching my kids through these last 7 months and they have been through some STUFF. There have been some real life disappointments and they continue to bounce back. They are expected to put their chin up and move forward in spite of it all. These kids have grit and they are resilient and everyday they amaze me by their ability to do life however it is handed to them.
Your kids’ story probably looks different, but I bet it’s no less resilient than mine. These kids might really be the generation that reaches across the aisle, that has empathy, that thinks outside the box, and teaches us all a thing or two about what it means to be resilient; what it means to rally, to try again until we get it right.
They just might be the generation that saves us.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G