As I am reading through my e-mails on my phone after dinner, my grandpa looks over and mutters: “You kids and all your smartphones. We didn’t have anything like that when I was your age.” Throughout history, parents and grandparents have preached to their kids and grandkids that their generation is not as good as earlier ones. We are too focused on technology to even notice our friends sitting right across the table, they say, and we are too self-centered, too controlling, and we have it too easy and expect things to be handed to us.
Although they may be right, they are also wrong.
I have heard countless times that kids today are too self-centered. But, in all honestly, they become egocentric because of the four iPads you bought for them or the new Mercedes they got on their 16th birthday. In the average American family, kids are not forced to do their own laundry or obligated to get a job, and it is because of these things that we feel entitled to be selfish.
This is because of the times in which we were born. We didn’t grow up in a time where we had to start working in the field at age 10, and then enlist in the war when we turned 18. Now, we are raised in a house with a flat-screen TV, a phone by seventh grade and our own personal computer. No wonder parents and grandparents constantly proclaim how self-absorbed we are.
But people who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s were known as the “Brat Packs” — in which, if you didn’t keep up with every trend, you were a loser, an outcast. Also prevalent were the yuppies with their “Nine M” motto: “Money, microwaves, minivans and more, more, more for me, me, me.” So maybe our generation isn’t the only one that has the feeling of being better than everyone else.
Apparently, your childhood was harder just because you didn’t have the technological advances that we have now. If anything, we have it harder because of the new technology. Homework assignments have become longer, bullying is on the rise, and there is more of a demand for superior academic and athletic performances.
Let us not forget that colleges have become more selective, with the average acceptance rate dropping 12 percent over the past eight years. There is a sense of dread that sweeps across high schools; students feel as if they don’t belong and that they never will go to college and get a good job. Every year we see it more and more — older generations taking the teenage jobs because they didn’t go to college and there isn’t really much more they can do. What was once a job for kids who just turned 16 is being overrun by 30- and 40-year-olds who never got a degree.
It is true that if you never give kids responsibilities, they will take longer to become responsible. But there are some things that we are never taught at home. Thank you, school, for teaching me how to find the volume of my cup of coffee. What I really needed to know was how to balance a checkbook, how to treat an open wound or even how to do taxes.
Apparently, we are accustomed to having everything handed to us because you never took the time to teach us these simple, yet important ideals. And we still receive the constant reminder that everything is not handed to you on a silver platter! We hear it over and over; people still tend to believe that our generation is used to having everything given to us.
There is no telling how our generation will turn out, for we are still young. Older generations should not be able to criticize until we are full-grown and have taken our place within this society. Until then, let us live as kids.
Nick Gionet is a junior at Benilde-St. Margaret’s School.