How to not fall into the "Young people suck" trap as you get older
Aging is inevitable, but growing bitter isn't.
The seniors among us are usually full of life lessons, and are seen as people to be admired and respected.
Almost immediately, most of us kick into "respect your elders" mode when interacting with those older than us – even if said elder is arguably being a bit crotchety.
While older people may have a one-up on young people in the "life experience" department, they can be brutal when saying what's on their minds – and sometimes aren't the most polite when delivering their message.
We've all heard the stereotype of seniors complaining about "these damn kids," bitterly noting that today's younger generation – from their cell phones to their music – just doesn't make sense to them.
And you don't have to be "old" to be older. Some millennials have been known to fall into the same trap, as the Millennials vs. Gen Z rivalry has ramped up on social media.
Whatever your age, it seems we've often fallen into the crabby habit of hating on the next generation that comes after us.
So how can you avoid falling into the trap of hating on younger people, and seemingly "just because?" All it takes is a bit of self-reflection and an open mind, and you too can become forever young like Alphaville.
Here are some takeaways and tips on how to reframe your thinking.
The generation gap
Between selfies, duck face poses, mumble rap, face tattoos, vape pens, constant tweeting, the rise of influencers, seemingly nonsensical slang, and an undying allegiance to new technology and social media, it can be easy to sit in judgment of today's youngest generation.
But if simple logic tells you anything, it's that clearly not all young people suck – just like not all seniors are cranky buzzkills.
There are tons of brilliant young people doing amazing things, and utilizing the tools given to them to promote a message that may very well change the world for the better.
Take the case of Gen Z specifically. They didn't create the internet, or make it a household necessity. Nor did they create social media and all the downsides – like social anxiety, body image issues, and online bullying – that can come with it, and that have plagued Gen Zers so starkly.
Every generation grows up facing its own set of unique problems. The world that young people are growing up in today can't possibly be compared to that of previous decades.
This is essentially why different generations typically have issues relating to and understanding one another. It's why TikTok and selfies may not make much sense to a boomer, who didn't grow up with the internet or the elusive goal of "going viral."
These differences don't make one generation inherently better than the other, or deserving of constant ridicule. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Younger generations, who will pave the way forward, deserve respect and to be uplifted – just as our older ones do.
How to catch yourself before you fall into the trap of hating on younger generations
Life is short, and the moments we have and memories we create are fleeting.
Youth often presents the idea of endless possibility, and a sense of freedom. They are values to be admired, not shamed or ridiculed for their naivety.
The truth is that the things young people do, indulge in, and believe in might never make much sense to older people, and that's OK. As we grow older and can see times changing and our lives passing, it can be challenging to accept. Those once "in the know" can, however unintentionally, be left feeling like outsiders as trends and our social habits inevitably change.
Once we learn to accept and respect the differences in generations, it becomes easier to drift away from judgement and fearing what we don't understand.
If we think back to when we were young, the adults we connected to most were the ones that gave us a sense of respect, that treated us like equals. Those that we learned something from, or who took a genuine interest in us. Interacting with them didn't feel as though they were looking down on us, but instead, trying to lift us up.
In conclusion, we all can't lose sight of what it was like to be young, or we'll end up resenting each other and those who come after us. The wisdom of older generations can recognize that young people need their guidance and help, and that making sweeping criticisms and spewing ridicule is counterproductive.
So the next time that young kid or teenager frustrates you, just remember that they're probably still figuring things out – perhaps, just like you.
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Cavan Images & Design Pics