In addition to the divides of political affiliation, race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality and religion that are rampant across our nation, there is also a generational divide. Baby boomers and millennials especially seem to have it out for each other. Baby boomers call millennials entitled, lazy and selfish. Millennials call baby boomers out-of-touch, hypocritical and unconcerned with the world beyond themselves. (Somewhere, Generation X — saddled between the two — poke their heads out, wondering when people are going to start talking about them.) There are hosts of facts to support arguments for and against millennials and baby boomers, depending on where you’re getting your sources. It’s clear, however, that this divide is vicious.
Naturally, as college students and millennials, we’re going to defend our generation — right?
Well, maybe not entirely. The term millennial covers those born between the years 1981 and 1997, though some argue that it goes as late as 2000 and others that it cuts off at 1993 instead. As of next year, using this first time frame, only half of the undergraduate class at UF will be millennials. By stricter standards, very few of us are even millennials at all. If you’re a freshman hearing this for the first time, you’re probably going to argue that you fit in more with your sophomore peers than your 10-year-old brother.
See how blurry these lines are? And yet we let them divide us.
As with most divides that split our country, in order to move forward, we need to bridge it, at least somewhat. For starters, baby boomers should recognize that the world is, in fact, a very different place than it was when they were in their 20s and 30s. You can no longer work minimum wage and pay for college tuition. You cannot buy a house fresh out of college. What once took just grit and gumption now takes years and years of debt and student loans — and that’s not even including children and a family in the picture. To quote a song of their generation, “the times they are a changin’.” They always have and always will. Once, baby boomers rallied under that statement. Now, they fight it.
As millennials, we also need to recognize that sometimes we’re going to have to listen to authority, work 9-to-5 jobs that require business-casual attire and, contrary to what social media might have us believe, other people don’t always care about what we have to say. We won’t say that our generation is entitled or lazy — just look at the course load some of us take, while holding down jobs and internships — but we are idealistic. That can be a good thing. It can also be our downfall. We want the world to be a good place. It is not. When we come into contact with injustice, be it the fact that we can’t wear jeans to work or limited access to women’s health care across the country, we need to learn when to let go and when to fight. The former, we should let go. The latter, we can fight.
I don’t address Gen X or the as-yet-unnamed generation after millennials — sometimes referred to as Generation Z. What we at the Alligator are trying to say is that we shouldn’t be at odds with each other just because of the year we were born. We need to accept that the world is changing. We need to keep the past in mind as we move toward the future. And we need to do it together — baby boomers, Gen Xs, millennials and Generation Zs alike.