Every generation is faced with it, the prejudice passed down by the older cohort as they, the new kids, are labelled as trouble makers and degenerates. I’m sure it was the same for my parents and I’m certain that I’m not alone in having a grandmother that believes the media hype about hoodies and broken youth. Read the headlines or watch the news and the chances are that, at least once a week, you as a young person will be informed that you aren’t meeting your potential. I remember in particular an article in the Independent with the title: ‘What’s wrong with our young people?’ and the sub-heading: ‘A generation has grown up convinced that it’s far worse off than it really is’. Reading on and it didn’t get any better; her argument was patronising, insulting and ignorant – or else purposely disdaining from accepting – that there was any good in my generation. To her we were all free-loading miscreants who wanted nothing more than to get ahead in life whilst doing as little as possible to get there. She was wrong.
It could be quite easy to point fingers. Modern politics, and in particular the years following and encompassing Nick Clegg’s rise and fall from grace, have made us apathetic; modern fiscal situations have made us poor and without prospect; and the modern media has continued to inform us that we are the worst generation in many. Ignore that Clegg, Milliband and Cameron have pushed just about everyone out of caring about politics, ignore that the modern financial crisis was the work of the last two generations and that, in actual fact, crime statistics have only decreased on average over the last thirty or so years. By the time that my generation has a voice with weight, the older generation will be too old or dead to care anyway, so for now they are content to continue shaming us with stereotypes, stigmas and assumptions.
I for one am happy with my contribution to the world so far. I’d like to think that if I was examined I’d be found as a positive and productive addition to humanity. I work hard when things matter to me and I’ve achieved what I have wanted to achieve when I’ve put my mind to it. Maybe I’m not as charitable as I should be, but I haven’t got much money anyway and I can’t afford to give what I have got to other people. I would if I could, honestly. I don’t think i’m one of the ‘yoofs’ that have been alienated and I’m certainly not one of the anti-Muslim thugs that the Daily Mail loves to hate so often. I’m normal. I’m 21 and just trying to get along. If it came down to me pointing fingers at the older generations and them doing the same then I’m certain the ammunition would fall both ways, but who would that help?
…a positive and productive addition to humanity…
There has to be a psychological effect that comes with all of this antagonisation. Riots across the country and a distrust of government, low job prospects, high prices for education. As a youth in todays’ world you’re climbing upward from the start; you’re unqualified, part of an ever-growing population, looked down on by your parents’ generation and constantly struggling to prove that you are a worthy addition to this society. Personally I’m always leaning closer and closer toward Anarchy in the UK. The irony being that, in my bored and disenfranchised state, I’m probably more likely to become exactly what we’ve been told we are because we have been told that. It’s the classic never-ending-cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies.
So what can we do? Keep on going, I suppose. The financial world has to level out at some point and the jobs have to start pouring back in, so until then we can just keep going. Working toward our own goals and looking past or ignoring the labels and assertions that we don’t really care. The thing is that the older generation have an easier time focusing on the problems with their youth than they do with focusing on the problems with their government and their credit crunch. It’s easier for them to do exactly what their parents and their grandparents did. For whatever reason, it’s happened now for generation upon generation, and the endless cycle of blaming whoever’s next in line continues.