Editor's note: Benjamin T. Lopez is the winner of the 2020 Echoes Media uSpeak Writing Contest. He is in the 9th grade at Forney High School in Texas.
The U.S. Civil War was a period of great disagreement between the Union and the Confederates. In today’s time, people stick to what they believe just as strongly as the Union and Confederates did. Beliefs differ based on age, and when people have different ways of thinking, conflict is typically sparked. Growing up, whatever happens to us can change us for the better or worse, and through those experiences, personalities are shaped. Because personalities need time to develop, the differences in beliefs can create friction between differently aged people. This separation in beliefs is known as a generational gap. Much of this separation revolves around the concept of effort.
The younger generation’s attention span has decreased with the increase of technology. They now pay so much attention to technology that they forget to listen to or understand other people. The millennial generation and younger has grown up in the information age. This time period produced smartphones, computers, and other electronic-based devices. These devices have proven to be addictive, and because of this, younger generations find themselves wanting to use them all the time. Xennials and older see this and it creates a bad bias towards the younger generations. In 2016, Brian O’Malley, wrote, “One telephone survey found that 71% of Americans believe millennials to be selfish, while another 65% find them entitled.”
There are ways that the younger generation can decrease this hatred and increase cooperation. The younger generation can, first and foremost, spend a little less time with technology and more time with other people. Sure, society today is becoming increasingly centered around technology, but most of their time shouldn’t be spent entranced by addictive devices. When people spend time with others, it allows for a decreased probability in mental health issues, an opportunity to gain people skills, and a chance to have a healthier lifestyle. Not only that, but Xennials and older would respect the younger generations more because we would learn how to communicate our ideas and carry on a conversation.
On the flip side, the younger generations don’t need to be the only ones making adjustments. If there is to be any sort of collaboration, effort needs to be a two way street. Older generations have lived a lot longer and experienced life differently. They then expect younger people to act the right way according to when they were growing up. But there is a problem with this. Times do change, and a mistake in one time might not be as bad as another. For example, in the mid 1900s to the late 1900s, a curse word was punishable in many ways, but in today’s time, saying a foul word isn’t as bad as it was back then. This mindset doesn’t allow for collaboration. A person from a time period without technology and a person who was born into an age full of technology see things differently according to their experiences.
The older generations need to have an understanding that younger generations have different experiences, mindsets, and opinions. The older generation needs to look at an interaction with someone younger as an opportunity to learn something new or a way to interact with someone else. And the younger generation needs to listen to the advice and learn from the wisdom of younger generations — not just focus on gadgets. If both generations take that outlook, then maybe we can see that most stereotypes about the other aren’t completely true. Once that happens, then there is a chance that together old and young generations can strive for equality. But neither can make a change for the better if not given the opportunity.
In all generations we strive for the best. Although the newer generations are taking different routes, we still want the same thing. The difference in the two generations is that one worked hard for their stuff and the other was given the privileges of that work. The determination that the older generation showed when they were young should be brought back and nurtured in the younger generation. The flexibility that the younger generations show should be looked upon as a new, essential, trait that should be learned by all. If we take the best thought processes from both young and old generations we can achieve a greater form of equality.