Double Standards Between Generations
Ungrateful Millennials: This idea that some generation is inherently ungrateful and snobby because of technology and the changing world they grew up.
But instead of addressing whose fault that would be if that were true (because that would be a completely different article on nature vs nurture, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), we can address why it’s unfounded BS.
The stereotype stems from Millennials and Gen Z kids complaining about old people or being impatient as children or teenagers growing into a defining characteristic of their media representations in the 90s and 2000s. The issue with this is that it was a trait exploited by older generations, writing up a trope that wasn’t based on reality, simultaneously making fun of actual children. Beyond that, this behavior is normal for kids—kids can be bratty because they’re kids, but the expansion of media and changing technologies meant there was a lot more exposure of “ungrateful teenagers.” New TV shows exploited the rudeness of certain individuals, which was then marketed towards describing a generation. That whiny behavior in reality TV that was dominant in the 90s-00s became how older generations viewed Millennials and Gen Z, at a point when we weren’t even old enough to defend ourselves.
So we were raised being told we’re ungrateful, that we’re whiny, and owe our elders some more respect.
So when we started growing up and stopped tolerating racism and sexism and all the institutional bigotry that is still around, we were called ungrateful for the society we have. Older generations didn’t care about our opinions, didn’t care about what we were addressing, they cared about silencing us, keeping us from being right and being heard. We were ungrateful for asking to be treated as humans, and as equals, ungrateful for not wanting to be called slurs and ungrateful for wanting our abusers to face the consequences.
At the same time, older generations who weren’t raised on such a heavy label feel they’re entitled to everything, because they’re “the elders,” the wise ones who deserve respect. They’re not the service workers being under paid and over worked who can’t speak up without risking their job, so they’re the unreasonable customer instead who complains when their hot food cooled down a bit or took too long. They complain when we use our phones because we know we don’t have to entertain them, and we can prioritize ourselves and our own interests. They’re grateful for the freedom of speech that allowed them to hurl insults and bully kids without consequences.
That’s the double standard we live with. Kids told they were ungrateful by definition were taught to be glad and thankful for what they have, because we learned in this world you never know when it will be taken from you. And adults who created that world and have only benefited from it want to avoid blame for their own doing, want to continue avoiding responsibilities and consequences.
Are we so ungrateful for wanting to be heard? For wanting our world to be a better and more open place? Why should we come out of the womb feeling bad for things that aren’t our doing? Why am I ungrateful because my grandparents had to get jobs when they were 12? Why am I ungrateful because I have family that couldn’t finish early education? Why am I labeled ungrateful for things I’m not told about, for things I have no experience with? The whole point of future generations and of a legacy is to provide those things, to give your kids a childhood and food and a home so they don’t have to worry about the things you did. So why were we labeled ungrateful for not realizing these things before we cognitively would have been able to? How is that fair? How is that just?