Respect may be pushing it. Acceptance would be a step in the right direction.
As social media allows all generations of people to share their inner-most thoughts at any given time, especially in the dark lonely hours, memes and posts portray more of disconnect than a longing to connect.
Some Traditionalists and Boomers born before the 60’s tend to share sentiment and memes of nostalgia for the good old days, that’s cool, we can all appreciate that. Gen X-ers (born ’61-’81) and Xennials, pronounced ZEEN-EE-UHLS (the micro-generation that has emerged between Gen X and Millennials born between 77-83) have their own way of sharing nostalgia on social media too. Links to articles featuring “90210” crushes, fashion trends like JNCO jeans, references to “My So Called Life” and why Xennials are sometimes referred to “Generation Catalano.”
It’s when users of the Boomer age group share put-down-posts inferring younger people will never be as good as “the greatest generation” … young people today will never know peace… or be able to simply go outside and play… or the know good old days… that the insults to our intelligence as progress as a society start to take shape. Let’s face it, the 50’s were not actually as great, especially for women, as they looked — we watched “Mad Men” and saw all we needed to know. No matter how hot Don Draper was, the way women were objectified… (and smoked and drank during pregnancies because they didn’t know better yet) yeah, we’ve come a long way, baby.
Gen X-ers, Xennials and Millennials are actually making camping cool again. We can’t be all that bad, right? Xennials in particular have the unique advantage of growing up in a childhood centered around outdoor play but were on the cusp of the technology boom and able to embrace both, whereas Millennials tend to be more viewed as glued to their phones and social media, but does anyone talk about how this social media addiction and longing for connection has affected older people? Once retired, people still crave connection lost by being in a workplace, and they’re finding it, positively or negatively, on social media, particularly Facebook. As much as Xennials are connected to devices, we also know the value of unplugging, so stop posting memes of us staring at our phones instead of conversing or getting hit by cars because we’re glued to a screen. We’re not a generation that sits with the news blaring on TV screen all day, we watch a show on Netflix, commercial free, only seeing the content we wish to invite into our lives. We’re not a cable-news, or worse, Fox-News brainwashed generation.
But you don’t see the younger generations posting on Facebook making fun of old people (we know better than making fun of people these days – all those anti-bullying campaigns certain demographics like to make fun of, and are bringing back name calling). We do’t go around saying that Boomers are bad or ruining the world with their jaded black rain cloud perspectives. Though they kind of are throwing shade. And like to imply Millennials are going to cause the world to implode somehow.
Understanding that respect is earned, not simply expected, what will it take for people over 55 to see the positive in younger people? How many children dedicating their birthday parties to collecting charitable donations or young entrepreneurs with real missions for social good not just capitalists of the past will it take to show the promise of our future? What would Millennials and Xennials have to do to get a little respect as parents and contributors to society instead of being looked down upon as people who don’t discipline their kids because we don’t spank, and read to much about how to be better people and parents, and fell for the biggest hoax of all time, climate change? We lived through the Exon Mobile oil spill, we grew up thinking recycling was cool, we are fighting for our right… to parrrrrtaaaay — and the planet, simultaneously juggling careers, paying our taxes to fund the social security we’ll never see, raising boys to respect women, and raising tomorrow’s next generation of leaders.
It all comes back the the golden rule, which is the only rule we have in our house: treat people how you want to be treated. Starting with acknowledging that we all have valid contributions to make to society. Those that retired have made their mark in their career and now have a little more time to volunteer as a mentor or another passion, find a new hobby, or spend more time with family and friends. Technology and the world around us are fast-changing, and that can be hard to comprehend and accept for some generations, and divisive in the endless spewing of beliefs on social media. Most people no matter what age do not like change and most resist the loss of control associated with change. But it doesn’t take anything away from past genrations’ accomplishments to aknowledge that young people have made and will continue to make valuable contributions as well. So how about a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T?