I'm over intergenerational wars
"I wish more young people were like you," I've been told at least once at every Christmas gathering, networking event, and awkward coffee with family friends for the past couple of years. "Young people are just so lazy... Not you though, you're different!" "My young employees/daughter/nephew should take a leaf out of your book, they are so lazy!" Whatever the iteration, the intent is clear: young people suck, and now that I'm meeting one that seems to go against my idea of how they act I am shocked but not shocked enough to question my beliefs about young people, just shocked enough to assume you are the exception to the rule.
I'm 28. By some definitions, I'm no longer a young person (I did try to join a young workers group that informed me the cut-off was 25. Ouch.), but I am a Millennial, and the two are interchangeable in the eyes of your average Boomer or mainstream media outlet. Some Millenials are in their 40s now, but I digress. But back to the point: being told I'm 'not like other young people' is not the compliment the giver thinks it is. It's pretty fucking rude actually. It's a personal insult, inferring SHOCK that I'm a capable human being who understands how the economy works, has a good job, and works hard. It's also an insult that I carry (you're welcome!) on behalf the whole 'young person' population. Bringing others down to compliment me just doesn't do it for me. Sorry!
As a young (or not, whatever) worker, I know that most of us feel totally scammed by employers. I believe to my core that the corporate world runs on the exploitation of workers. And I can see how Millennials' rejection of the typical 9-5 bothers older workers. I get it, I do. It would fucking suck to feel like you gave decades of your life to a system that's broken, playing by the rules, only to watch those bloody young people come in, look around, and say "nah, not for me." That must be shit. And I feel bad when I think about that. But that's not our fault. People have been used by these systems since capitalism was born, and people have always fought against them - but those people have been on the fringes of society until now.
I'm a third-wave or fourth-wave feminist (I don't like labels, I'm a MiLLeNniAL remember), I'm a big advocate for intersectional feminism, using the internet to empower women and break down patriarchal structures, and the idea that men can be feminists and allies to the women's movement. Many women around me are second-wave feminists, and we disagree on a lot of details, but I respect those women SO much. I LIVE for the second-wave feminist rage so well documented in women's history. When I talk to a second-wave feminist about the times they were arrested at protests, when they fought for reproductive rights, and living through the time women had to resign work upon marriage, I get chills down my spine. I am so grateful for these women.
I don't understand this waged war between Millennials and Gen Z. And it goes deeper than middle parts and loose jeans (which I hate by the way, but I'm just not having that fight). I think it all comes down to Millennials feeling as though Gen Z has it easier than we did, and now that I've reached an age where I can see the next generation becoming adults, I think that very point is what it comes down to. We always see the next generation reaping the benefits from systems we changed. When I was at school, 'gay' was an insult, and nobody knew what trans meant. Diversity wasn't on the mainstream agenda. Things are different at high schools today. And that's a fucking great thing.
I am so happy that things are different. And I'm happy that I've been involved in movements that have and continue to make positive change. There is the idea that you should 'make the world a better place for your children,' but why limit it there? I want the world to be better for people 1, 5, or 20 years younger than me, and I want it to be better for people 10, 20, and 30 years older. If activism undertaken by Millennials made Gen Z's life a little easier, or made things a little more inclusive, then I'm bloody thrilled to see it and to have played the tiniest part.
Why wouldn't you want to see younger people, your children or otherwise, living in a better, fairer world? That's all it comes down to at the end of the day. If you're interested in any kind of social, political, or global change, you should be fucking ecstatic to see younger people enjoy the fruits of your labour. And if you're not, you should reconsider.