I feel amazingly lucky to be born when I was: 1997. Titanic had just been released, Pokémon was introduced to the public, and Harry Potter was published. If you ignore Biggie Smalls being murdered that year, it wasn’t a bad time to come into this world. Even more than that though, I hit the absolute jackpot with my childhood.
I was right in that sweet transition period where technology was just being introduced, but not enough to take over my whole life. Summer days were still spent outside getting to know the neighborhood kids, I got to roll around in the grass, and I also had the time of my life wasting hours on my Tamagotchi.
Now, I look at my five-year-old cousin on her iPad, spending her summer days staring at a screen and absorbing her whole self into her device. And you know what? I’m kind of jealous. Yeah, I had fun with my friends. Yeah, it was great being outside. Yeah, I loved “living in the moment.” However, I know she has time for all of the things I did, but then gets to come home to an iPad to entertain herself with. Honestly, what a life. I thought I was the one hitting the jackpot, but these kids have it all.
The generational differences between us aren’t a bad thing. Of course, part of why I want to give Generation Z the benefit of the doubt is because I feel like my generation deserves the same thing.
We’re called too entitled, too sensitive, too lazy. Personally, I feel misunderstood.
Lazy? But I spent all of high school in a constant state of stress due to all my extra-curricular activities, sports, and a job!
Entitled? You think a participation trophy made me grow up thinking I deserved a prize just for existing? Come on. I saw those get handed out to every kid on the team, there was no illusion I was special for getting this.
Sensitive? Can I please talk about the issues that are important to me without getting dismissed for being over emotional? I know what it means to gaslight someone, your tactics aren’t fooling me.
However, change is scary. Millennials are incredibly different than generations before us. The thing I want to tell baby boomers is to just please try to understand us. We’re not so different. We just happen to be born in times that have vastly different circumstances.
Here’s the thing: millennials are insulted, put down, and made to look foolish. When millennials who believe in social progress (which is a lot of them) start to bring up issues involving trigger warnings, safe spaces, and microaggressions we are shut down. We’re told that we’re making something out of nothing.
People have built up a persona for millennials that they expect us to be like. When people hear our opinions with the notion in their head that we’re oversensitive, it’s easier for them to try not to empathize or understand what we’re saying. So, all of these narratives that make us out to be mindless technology drones are hurting more than just my own feelings—they’re harming social progress as well.
It’s incredibly frustrating to be met with so much criticism for things that aren’t flaws. So as the next generation gets older, I’m ready to listen. I encourage the generational differences that appear between us.
I hope Generation Z stands out.