Myths and Truths

January 21, 2020

I only had to look at the web’s most searched questions about each age cohort to get a sense of what people think of one another. When I typed “why are boomers” into the search bar, the auto-complete options included “to blame,” “so salty,” and “so entitled.” People also look up why millennials are “failing,” “such babies,” and “obsessed with food.”
Then I came across the worst of it all: “why Gen Z is screwed.”
Reliance on technology seems to have a lot to do with this perception.
“When the electricity goes out and internet becomes unavailable, doing homework becomes problematic for my kids,” social studies teacher Steve Darnell said. “I say to them, ‘Why didn’t you print it off?’ I always have a hard copy. I grew up in that generation.”
Born after 1996, Gen Z-ers are “technology natives,” as ASB advisor Michelle Munson put it. They never grew up without mobile devices designed to make life as convenient as possible, raising concerns for some that they don’t know the value of hard work.
“There’s a stereotype that Gen Z is lazy and that they lack resilience and grit. The reality is that grit and resilience looks very different to them than to boomers and Gen X,” Munson said.
Even if Gen Z-ers are actually as slothful as they are made out to be, at least they are the most informed of sloths.
“Technology enables us to communicate and get information from around the world, which was much harder in earlier times,” junior Allyson Mangus said.
Most notably, the modern ease of access to information has resulted in the alliance between younger generations around the world in climate change activism, sometimes against older generations. “Kids think that we’re all baby boomers and that we destroyed the whole world with climate change,” Munson said.
Munson believes that such prejudices arise because large age gaps discourage mutual understanding. “What a baby boomer is to me is very different than what a baby boomer is to younger generations. Because my parents were baby boomers, I am closer to that generation,” she said.
What, then, do baby boomers and Gen X really think about climate change? There must be a reason for the judgments laid against them.
“Boomers and Gen X are not raised to be global citizens. We didn’t have the same access to information that millennials and Gen Z do,” Munson said.
Darnell offers a different take: false alarmism in the past makes older generations cautious, more so than the younger generations, when deciding what “research” can be trusted.
“When I was young, there were claims that television is going to lead to an increase in violence and lower literacy,” he said. “Today, there are some scientists claiming that in twelve years, we’re going to be beyond the point of return to save our environment.”
Experience has taught baby boomers and Gen X to examine recent findings with a more critical lens, but some misinterpret this as an irrational indifference to current issues. “It’s simply ludicrous to assume that older people do not support a healthy environment,” Darnell said.

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