Generation Gap: Respect Your Youth

‘In the religion of the insecure I must be myself respect my youth’Lady Gaga

It’s concerning that even in 2017, generations of people have not learned from the past. Older people still try to distance themselves from younger people due to the different upbringings they have had. It’s pointless, every generation is going to have vastly different childhoods, it’s simply nature.

A lack of empathy, and the ease of forgetting what life was like when we were younger gives people a kind of skewed prejudice against young people. This leads to ‘back in my day‘ quips and ‘when I was your age‘…usually followed by a sarcastic comment. Learning to react slower to different experiences can help conversations that might lead to this kind of to and fro-ing. Really, truly, think about what someone is saying and react accordingly.

What makes people think that they are somehow superior than people younger than them? It’s not hard to take a minute and remember what life was like for you back then. Connecting your thought process when you were younger, to the way young people think now is really not that different. Of course our surroundings change so quickly, especially in this modern age, but our thoughts and our emotions at any given age, these do not really change all that much.

Think about how you would act if you were younger (or older) now, would you have made the same decision, or used the current technology in the same way? Probably. No one is totally immune to societal change. It’s not hard to truly take a minute and put yourself in another person’s shoes. Working hard at empathising truly with other people’s situations is what makes us all better people.

The political process across the world shows a certain hatred and fear towards young people. This could be because, in nations where voting isn’t compulsory, young people need more conviction from more inspiring leaders to vote in elections. It is easier to campaign to older voters as simply put, they are more likely to vote.

Cutting university funding, cutting healthcare funding, jobs decreasing, more experience needed for entry-level jobs and $4 retail internships are all factors that are detrimental for young people leaving high school or university. Bizarrely, many of the policies are made by the same people who, when they were of university age, rallied against similar policies being put upon them at the time. (Simon Birmingham is a good example of this, advocates cuts to university funding, yet campaigned against cuts to university funding while he himself was at university, Joe Hockey is another good example of this kind of hypocrisy).

Why do these people have such short memories? Are they so selfish that they know they have their education and their jobs and they simply don’t care? Or is it a genuine lack of connection to generations other than their own?

Conditions change, times change. Blaming young people for being ‘soft’ because back in your day you worked 10 hours a day while a bloke punched you in the gut the entire time is not a good comparison. Unions and protests have worked very, very hard over the past 100 years to get where we are today. Sometimes, we have to accept that the changes we are looking to make won’t actually come into play until the next generation.

Respect is not demanded. It is earned. You do not, ever, demand respect from anyone. No matter if they are older or younger than you. Thinking that just because you are older, that the 15 year old kid working behind the counter at Maccas should bow down to you is only going to drive a wedge between generations even more.

Children are also the forgotten demographic here. Kids deserve respect. Kids are not their parents property. Kids are often used as pawns to garner more money or control from someone. Again, if you can just take a minute and remember what it was like to be a kid. Try to remember! Using children like they have no thought process for themselves and every idea is somehow taken from somewhere else is really cruel. Kids have their own thoughts and feelings from a really young age and know a lot more than people think they do. This is especially true for kids from broken families or in harder situations (I have written about this before from a unique perspective on how important dads are).

Every generation complains about their kids and teenagers. However, if anything, the ‘kids these days’ are respectful, funny, insightful, incredibly smart and more mature than any generation has been in decades. This is partly thanks to the internet, as they not only use the internet as a social tool, but also as an information gatherer. They are also very well spoken, and deserve to be given a proper chance. No one is superior to anyone else because they use, or do not use technology.

Even though this generation of young people has all the tools to make good decisions, they still need mentors and experience. By slotting these two factors together, once the current crop of teens (born post-2000), hit their stride in work and management areas, they will be practically unstoppable.

The economy is vastly different now than it was even 20 years ago, and it’s a constantly changing beast. You cannot tell young people to ‘just go get a job’ when the jobs teens used to do (like working a checkout at the supermarket) has largely been taken over by robotics, and if it hasn’t, some poor guy whose done a double degree in engineering and mathematics has to do it. He cannot get any other job because of such intense competition and a shortage of positions.

Industry in Australia is lacking in so many sectors, such as: fine art, design, gaming, music, etc. Retail is also dying. No amount of $4 internships, Netflix taxes or cutting penalty rates is helping young people. It’s also not helping small business. Crappy website design not complementing stores and Australian retail businesses being slow on the online update is coming back to bite them. Unless Australia can keep up with the rest of the world, global businesses from the USA, China, Japan and Europe will continue to take sales away from local brands.

Putting tags on different generations also furthers the gap between us all working together. Saying ‘millenials are entitled at work‘ – do you mean ‘young people have expectations of their fair rights at work’ ? (‘millenials’ also has no definitive meaning, and can also seemingly mean anything the writer would like it to, from teenagers to encompassing people well into their 30s). I also feel like a lot of this resentment towards ‘millenials’ should be re-directed to the more financially privileged, that just also happen to be in the younger generation.

The point is, people from all generations need to see each other as equals. We’ve all been that age, or we are going to be that age. Seeing people at a different stage in their life and immediately making a judgement is not going to make friends or win people over to your way of thinking. Listening intently and understanding what people have to say, then putting in your perspective, while connecting with the opinion you’ve just been presented, is a much more proactive way of undertaking an intellectual conversation.

Sometimes, young people are right. If we could all listen and be open to different views, and have less pride in admitting we are wrong, social and economical progress could be made that would benefit everyone. Rather than claiming that young people don’t work as hard as your generation (which is absolutely not true, many young people are balancing university and 3+ jobs while trying to make ends meet), changing policies to reflect what today’s youth actually need is much more productive.

It also comes off as jealousy when older people complain endlessly about younger generations. Everyone has their time, there are advantages and disadvantages at every age. Recognising this, and trying to make things better for the people who come after us will make the world a better place.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I found you on Reddit 😉 I have seen that the more I respect humans – young and old – the more folks tend to send love my way. I get what I put out there energetically, so living in harmony with others has inspired folks to live harmonically with me.


  2. Pat says:

    It’s interesting you should touch on empathy. I have a good friend of mine who works as a graphic designer but who is also very interested in how companies do business and a major topic she has touched on is the distinct lack of empathic interaction by companies to consumers. Extending this, in the way we interact, if we are empathetic in out interactions with everyone, everyday we will always be better off. Through empathy we can understand others perspectives and subjective point of view. Great post and really got me thinking, as the intergenerational understanding is something that is often unspoken or if it is it’s often in the negative.


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