Future of Our Generation
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For many years, since I can remember, I have always heard phrases like “Back in my day…” and “Things like this never happened when I was a kid.” These phrases led me to start understanding the importance of how one generations’ actions could affect another’s’ for years to come.
Recently, I had a conversation with my mother who was born in 1966 and was raised by the generation that went through the Great Depression. I wanted to know more about how the world has evolved, and more specifically, the differences in our generations. We covered topics such as social issues, home life, women's rights, undercurrents in this country, how we’ve evolved and devolved, and many others.
We had our discussion last night, after I got home from school. I went to my mother, speaking about a paper that I was going to write on the issues I’ve disclosed above, and the generation gaps. She was intrigued and we sat down to have a chat.
The first topic that came to mind was how home life was different back then in the 1960’s and 1970’s, even early 1980’s when the way of life at home started to shift into what it is today. We have neighbors who often call the police because of issues with their children. My mother brought this up, comparing it to her childhood. She said “Yeah, we weren’t allowed to do that stuff (misbehave), because it just wasn’t done. People were taught better than that and you were expected to fall in line and do as you’re supposed to, not to be drama llamas.”
According to DisasterCenter, the United States in the year of 1966 had a population of 195,576,000, and yet out of those people, only 5,223,500 were found to be convicted criminals. That’s only about 2.671% of the total population in the United States at that time. Now? The population of the United States as of 2016 is 323,127,513, and 9,202,093 of those people were found to be convicted criminals. That’s about 2.848% of the population now. Although it’s not a significant increase, it’s still an increase.
The next topic we moved on to was the issue of mental health. My mother stated that mental health wasn’t even a thing people talked about when she was born and growing up. It was a field that was barely in its beginning stages, and is virtually nothing compared to what we have now in this day and age. My mom expressed some strong, thought-provoking opinions when it came to this topic. One of which being how people handled mental health in the home. She said “You see girly, when I was a kid, we didn’t complain about everything bad that happened to us. We dealt with it and kept home issues at home. If you were abused at home or had mental health issues, you kept that stuff to yourself.” I asked her why, seeing as this was an obscure thought compared to what I’ve seen in recent years. She replied with “You just kept it to yourself, there was no need to go telling the world” (referencing to our generation and how we handle social media).
In this day and age, that I have experienced, we don’t really have to hide what we are. As I have gone through middle and high school, the awareness of mental health has skyrocketed. I personally have some of the issues that are being publicized. Realizing what I have at a young age really helped me cope with it because it was no longer this mysterious thing I was fighting with inside of me. My enemy was given a face and a name, and that really pushed me to take the next steps of healthy coping with what I have.
A lot of kids during my mother's age had issues including growing up with abusive families and broken homes. The same is true for now unfortunately, but we are just starting to do something about it with advocates such as celebrities speaking out about their mental illnesses and trying to show the previous generations that yes, this is a problem, and yes it has to be seen and dealt with. Statistics from MentalHealthAmerica.net show that even today, from 2012 to 2015, rates of younger people with severe depression increased from 5.9% to 8.2%. The website stated that “Even with severe depression, 76% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment.” Back in 1966 though, there aren’t very many records about mental health. It was a time where mental health wasn’t a prominent field of study in that time, but it was studied. Awareness for mental health wasn’t very prominent a few decades ago, but thankfully, it is now.
Another topic we had discussed was social media. My mom despises social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat only because they are more risky to use and take over the lives of younger folks. She does however love sites like Pinterest, Tumblr and YouTube because there’s less drama and more idea-sharing, She loves the websites and social media that has people saying “Hey look, I made this thing! Isn’t it cool?” and having support for those ideas. She claims that we are very irresponsible with this technology that we have been gifted with from a very young age.
I personally agreed with her, but with some differences. When the American government first got their hands on atomic weapons, they experimented with them and eventually bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That moment showed the world that we should be careful of the power we wield. The same goes for my generation and technology. We will not realise how much power we truly have until that power is either questioned or abused. We just have to wait for that day and pray the damage won’t be irreversible.
Lastly, the topic that started some arguments between my mother and I, is how the rights of LGBTQ+ people are being ignored and that they’re being discriminated against. My mother has a very strong opinion about the LGBTQ+ community. Her strong opinions can be understood by some degree, but not completely. She doesn’t like the fact that they’re fighting for their rights publicly. This of course is a very crass opinion, but with the way she grew up, having to hide her issues and chin up, its somewhat understandable. However, this doesn’t justify her want to have LGBTQ+ members out of sight and out of mind. We then moved forward with the topic by talking about LGBTQ+ people and their rights to marry and be accepted the same as hetersexual people. She said she doesn’t care honestly. “They can have their rights, I just don't like public displays of affection from them or 'straight' couples! Some things should stay at home, especially intimacy.” When saying this, I remembered that I have to remind myself that my mother is not a social butterfly and is the more reserved type. She doesn’t much like her opposites.
Anyways, after her little "schpeel", I commented that we as women have been suppressed much like the LGBTQ+ community. Back when women started advocating for their rights to vote, the government and many men responded as they’re doing now; trying to ignore the pleas for equality, and shoving it out of sight, out of mind with obscure rules and laws in attempt to keep things as they are. Things as they are, seem to be only good for two types of people: the well paid and the male population. My mother faltered a bit at this observation, and hesitantly agreed with me.
In conclusion, the generations of my mother's and mine are very different in several aspects. Her generation seemed to ignore social issues because the world was a place of conflict with the Vietnam war going on and the country in a period of conversion from what it was to what it is today. Today's generation has less conflict and more time to worry about the issues of social justice and equality that we the people have been battling over since before this country was even established. Hopefully, the next generations will finally resolve the petty issues that we face today, and there will be a brighter future for generations to come.