“If I had a dollar for every time someone over 40 told me my generation sucks, I’d have enough money to buy a house in the economy they ruined”. This statement makes me think about how harshly youth of our generation are portrayed. It isn’t difficult to picture the professed typical teen: wild, rude, self-absorbed and egotistical. An image of laziness and a desire to waste their life drinking their way up a ladder of social status would not be unusual associations. Maybe I’m biased as part of this ‘Generation Y’, but I can recall numerous times that my generation has been slammed for our irresponsible ways. This treatment is unfair and false.
In the past century, the proportion of youth in New Zealand involved in the culture of binge drinking, chain smoking, and drug usage has decreased significantly. An Auckland University study, conducted over the past decade, concluded that the cigarette culture is on its way out. In 2001, 53% of college students had tried smoking. In 2012, this number dropped to only 23%. Similarly, the percentage of high school students who had tried marijuana dropped from 39% in 2001 to 23% in 2012. In addition to this, the number of teenage pregnancies is at a record low and has been dropping steadily for the past 2 decades. These statistics patently reveal the contradictions between stereotype and reality.
In addition to this, I believe young adults are rapidly becoming more globally minded and racially tolerant humans through the exposure of social media. The diversity of our current society, especially in Auckland, has moulded us into a generation that has learnt to be accepting of others regardless of differences. This open mindedness is relatively common among many teenagers today, unlike several of the generations before us who were far more subjective. The teenagers of our generation are also more likely to volunteer their time and money than those of any other generation in history, which is incredibly contradicting considering these are the same people who are being labelled “selfish”.
Academically, “Generation Y” is a front runner. According to The Washington Post, IQ scores have rocketed upwards in the past few years, and 84% of young adults are predicted to earn a higher income than their parents. Some argue that this is a result of improved education systems, whereas others suggest that it comes from an increased availability of tertiary education. Despite the disparaging elders, there is a bank of evidence proving the intellectual credibility of our generation.
I have promised myself to never to look down on the generations that follow me. They, like us, are the ones who have the opportunity to make a difference to the world. I have hope that they, too, will open up a bright new world filled with promise and potential.
Written by: Georgia Bond. Edited by: Zhong Huang.