I've heard a variation of this phrase a lot recently:
'Young people nowadays are so arrogant/entitled/spoilt/pampered/disrespectful' (delete as appropriate).
Spoken by people my age, and older.
And it makes me SO cross.
Firstly: ageism is ageism no matter what the age you are moaning about. I also think its particularly unfair that older people have a go at younger people. Because we're not supposed to disrespect our elders, right? Yet respect, the last time I checked, respect can work both ways. In fact, it needs to work both ways, really. Otherwise it's an imbalance of power. According to some, its absolutely fine for an older person to tar all younger people with the same brush, but NEVER the other way round.
Which you know, isn't that fair.
Secondly: throughout history, every generation has thought better of their own age group than the age group following them. Take this quote:
“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”If you are nodding to this and thinking 'yep, that EXACTLY describes young people nowadays, it wasn't like THIS back in my day' then let me tell you that the person behind that quote was Socrates, and he died in 339 B.C.
I distinctly remember older people moaning about my generation when I was a teenager. I remember reading articles about it. I remember hearing people of my parents' age and older, casually, in front of me, going on an epic rant about how awful and spoilt and terribly behaved teenagers were.
It upset me and my friends. It caused division and bitterness between us and older people. Older people didn't understand us; we hadn't done a thing to them, and yet apparently we were fair game for them to speak awful words over? In a time of life where you feel pretty powerless, it was an exercise in feeling even worse. Because, you know, you mustn't argue with your elders.
Thirdly: young people are having a pretty awful time of it nowadays. 2.7 million young people in the UK are currently living in poverty (aged 14-24). That is 30% of the population of young people - higher than any other age group. 11.5% of young people in the UK (aged 11-16) have a mental disorder. Incidents of hospital admissions of children and young people suffering after effects of self-harm have increased in the last ten years by 68%. And yet, 70% of these children and young people cannot access appropriate interventions.
And, to top it all off, this government seem to have it in for younger people, if the increase in university tuition fees, scrapping of housing benefit for under-25s, and cuts to children's mental health services are anything to go by. Plus, they have the immense pressure of social media to contend with.
I wouldn't go back to being a teenager nowadays for all the money in the world.
Truth is, I used to think it was fine to say these sweeping generalisations about teenagers almost as soon as I became an adult. I think differently now. Do I think we should respect our elders, and appreciate them for the wisdom they've gleaned? Absolutely, I do. Do I think teenagers are perfect? Er, no. They're still developing into adults - they haven't physically or mentally gained every skill they need to act perfectly in society.
Frankly, though, I know some adults who behave in a far worse way than a lot of young people.
And, also frankly, I think that no matter how many years you have under your belt, you don't have the automatic right to be disrespectful to other people.
At the end of the day, young people are people: with all the good and bad bits that come with being human.
I'd love to see respect going both ways. Younger people respecting the wisdom of people who have gone before. And older people (again - including my generation!) taking younger peoples' opinions into account, too.
Linking up with: