2 Dec 2009

What is wrong with Gen Why?

Image from here

There is something wrong with kids nowadays. Why can't they be more like us? Why don't they know how to behave?

Gen Yers are the 'me' generation. The 'go on - you deserve it' group. The 'I am unique and special' bunch. They expect to be treated like they're the centre of the universe, and who says the sun doesn't revolve around them anyhow? They're lazy. They take days off, and are always on the phone to their friends...or texting...or facebooking...or...doing the latest something with them that I haven't yet caught up with. (Can anybody tell me what Google Wave is? I really do want to understand. Jillian tells me I need to look it up myself, but I want somebody to take me by the hand and lead me through it. Slowly.)

Gen Y continually challenge the way things are done and reckon their way is better. They're always asking 'Why'. That's why they're the 'Why' Generation, silly.

It is funny, isn't it, how every generation believes that their parents don't understand them. Then they grow up and they can't understand their kids. It's a cycle...

Oh how profound I'm sounding, how deep. But I digress. I can't help it. It's my age. Now, where was I? Ah yes, thank you. A cycle.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

Ecclesiastes 1: 9-10
Perhaps we oldies need to remember what it was like to be misunderstood in our own youths. We need to remember what our parents' generation said to us. We need to remember, also, that our way is not the only way.

Let's look at what past generations of parents have said about their kids:
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
Gen Y? Nah. Sounds like it though, doesn't it? This was actually attributed to Socrates by Plato back in somewhere around 440 BC.

Speaking of Plato, he wasn't too pleased with the youth of his day either:
What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?
Hmmm. Obviously young people in the 4th C BC had some issues as well. Or maybe Plato had just had an argument with his son. Maybe.
I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.
Gen Y? Nope. This one was said by Hesiod, back in the 8th Century BC.

Let's try another, shall we? I'm thinking these are rather cool. Hope you are too...
The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.
Who wrote that, and when do you think it was written?

Okay, I'll tell you. I can tell you're bursting to find out. That's another characteristic of Gen Y, you know. Instant gratification. On that I'm rather in agreement though especially around Christmas, although I don't approve of it in young people. Only in me. Oh yes, the quote. It is an extract from a sermon preached by Peter the Hermit in 1274 AD. Relatively recent in the scheme of things really.

Ya know, perhaps we had better start thinking of the younger generation as 'different'. Perhaps instead of complaining about them we should look at them through new, fresh eyes as something wonderful, something exciting, something unique. They're always going to be there after all, getting older, more mature - if not more sensible. We may as well accustom ourselves to their ways early. It's not many years from now that they'll be the ones tucking us into our beds at the Generation Y run Nursing Home. Perhaps we'd be better off if we have become reconciled to their idiosyncrasies by then.

My favourite quote is this. It was written by G. K. Chesterton:
I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.
Ah yes, he was a wise man. A wise and funny man was our Mr Chesterton. He even laughed at his own jokes, so he must have been.

I wonder if he was misunderstood by his parents?


  1. I love this post! LOL. I'm passing this on to my little brother who I tend to chastise for being a punk.

  2. lol I love these. I about laid an egg when I first ran into the Socrates one ~ back in high school when I first did Ancient Greece. I am less concerned with the Gen Yers than with the parents who are trying to outdo them in inanity. Who me? Nah, never inane. ☺

  3. I confess I spent the first few sentences of the post thinking Gen Why was perhaps a Chinese artist I'd never heard of.

    Surprised none of the great thinkers came up with a combination of sin nature and parental weakness - that seems to be the problem around here.

  4. Good post....I remember in the dark ages of my college years [i.e. the first Regan Administration] I opened the then state-of-the-art Periodical Guide to Literature [those big green indexes to all magazine articles] and there we all of today's "hot" youth topics: "street" gangs, misbehavior, bad manners, etc!! Doesn't it say "Nothing new Under the Sun...." It's so true!

  5. When I hear people speaking of the 'youth of today' and how terrible they are, I have often wondered if it is just youth in general - and the time and place just changes the costume of it.

    Great quotes.

  6. Isn't it so strange that for thousands of years the youth have been rebellious know alls - except for our generation!
    Nothing new under the sun. Aren't we appreciating our parents and fore bears now?

  7. I agree! Let's focus on the great things about our kids, and refrain from "us vs them", which never ever did or does any good.

    I can explain Google Wave. Better yet, I can show you. I still have some invites and I'd be happy to send one to anyone who's interested. You Jeanne, or any of your readers. Just email me (your readers can find my email at The Book Chook blog) with the email address you want the invitation sent to. When Google sends it through, let me know and I will take you on a personal tour.

    But in case you don't have time for that, here is a potted version. It is typing on the screen to whoever you are sharing on the wave with. You have the ability to see them type in real time, add things to the wave for them to see, like pics, video, maps, games. I am using it to collaborate with two other Australian children's writers and finding it great, but slow at times depending on an individual's internet speed.

  8. I agree with Book Chook...we need to not have a "us vs them" mentality but seek to understand them and let them soar with all the good opportunities they have in their lives!

  9. Hi Jeanne,
    I'm so sorry - I didn't realise that you wanted a written explanation of Google Wave.

    Here is what it is:

    What is a wave?

    A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

    A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

    A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

    Have a great week,

  10. Very thought provoking post.

    (did I send you a google wave invite? I can't remember...either way, I keep forgetting it's there to use whenever I get round to it)


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