Homer’s teens appear to be having an especially hard time in light of recent events in our community. Our hearts and support go out to those struggling with the problems that come with growing into an adult such as disappointment in friendships, family and social structures.
Although we have all been there, let’s take a moment to remember what it feels like to be young. From the seat of adulthood, it might look a little easier than in reality. One trait often associated with youth is resiliency. The ability to toss disappointment off with a shrug and move along to the next task. Or, we think of the carefree days of youth. But, given all the evidence to contrary, is this a reality?
The great temptation of each age is to place the next generation into quotation marks of some kind. Critics of generations designate names meant to be definitions or descriptions in some regard. Consider the titles given going back 112 years:
2000/2001-Present – New Silent Generation or Generation Z
1980-2000 – Millennials or Generation Y
1965-1979 – Generation X
1946-1964 – Baby Boom
1925-1945 – Silent Generation
1900-1924 – G.I. Generation
What’s striking about this list is the repeating “silent” generation. What does today’s technologically-adept group of young people share in common with those raised during the Great Depression and World War II? It bears thinking about. That age of people would be our grandparents and parents who went through material deprivation or economic turmoils and social chaos. We don’t tend to think of young people today as fitting in that category. But, there’s food for thought in the comparison.
Jeff Gordinier, an author of “X Saved the World,” renamed his generation the Ignored Generation. He was born in 1971 and decided he was tired of being force-fed the Beatles, the Summer of Love, Facebook and Britney Spears. Those now in their early 40s were tired of being overlooked and underappreciated, he wrote, sandwiched in a non-descript point in time.
Through humor and no small amount of self mockery, Gordinier puts it in the context of a case most similar to sibling rivalry. He says Millennials were playing the part of the spoiled new baby in the family, hogging all the world’s new attentions. The older, naive baby boomers acted the part of the self-righteous firstborn. Gordinier’s book, then, is like the earnest ranting of a forgotten middle child.
As we seek new ways to support our young people, it’s not a bad idea to keep in mind that every generation has a point. A point of wisdom, new energy and ideas that add to the pool of knowledge and joy to be found in our world. Let’s help them to be resilient.
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