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Values of the Modern Generation: Critical Thinking, Selflessness and Humanity

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Each generation has their own unique identity and is subject to criticism from the previous one. This is true of author Bret Easton Ellis who defined the current generation in Vanity Fair as “Generation Wuss”. Ellis argues that the youth of today is entitled to recognition when none is due and incapable of hearing critique. This belief among the older generations that generalize our youth as easily offended is common, yet completely inaccurate and misunderstood. I’d argue though, that our flammability is due to us being the generation that upholds moral values the most. We’re taught from grade school to share, to stand up to bullies, speak up for the defenseless and being the generation that pursues those integrities the most, we intimidate the older generations. We are far from “Generation Wuss”. We are the generation of critical thinkers, selflessness and the generation exercising the most humanity even at the expense of traditional thinking.

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Us so called “Generation Wuss”-ers are unlike anything seen before. We are a children of an age in which we must question everything. We are hyper aware of misleading information and bias. We value truth and undeniably seek it. Looking at the public reaction to pedestrians shot by police officers alone is a good example of our ability to think critically. Today it is not uncommon for the demand of body footage from police to prove the innocence of the officer. We understand that bad people can be anyone including some police. Contrary to the attitude just 20 years ago, there is a lack of blind trust in the law that once ran rampant. We are beyond the belief of accepting things for face value. This is seen clearly in websites arising in our generation as well. Politifact is an example of how we don’t simply believe everything we hear. Though the term “crooked politician” has been around for decades, we are the only generation that has dedicated themselves to creating and using a service to determine if a politically charged statements are true. In general, our generation is that of not accepting things for their superficial value and constantly trusting those around us but rather formulating our own opinions and researching beyond the presented.

It is irrefutable that our generation is defensive. But when analyzed, a person will find this results from a generation that is unaccepting of the judgemental, the racist and insensitive. We are a diverse youth and our values reflect that. An article from Huffpost titled “Conservative or Liberal? For Generation Z, It’s Not That Simple” estimates Gen Z in the United States to be “55% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 14% African American, 4% Asian and 4% mixed race or other”(Loehr). Because of this we tend to be less tolerant of discrimination and supportive of minorities and other under represented groups. In addition we are accepting of all walks of life. When transgenders, disabled and even those of mixed races were made a spectacle of just decades earlier, the current generation embraces individuality and self love. When gay marriage had not been legal just three years ago, the current generation pushed for equality among those in the LGBTQ community and got it for their fellow youth. Even looking at the bullying rate from federal data, one can see a decline. Among those age 12 through 18, “20. 8 percent of students reported being bullied in 2015, continuing a downward trend that dates back to 2007, when 31. 7 percent of students reported being bullied”(Camera). This reflects the new generations changing view on acceptable behaviour. We are a youth of sympathy, open mindedness and defensive of the truth that all people deserve basic respect regardless of their identity.

Not only does the Millennial and following generations speak out against adversity, they also speak up in times of crisis. Mental health has been stigmatized for years yet this set of young people openly talk about issues involving it. This shift in value is present in a variety of pop culture platforms from music to social media and even implemented into new technology developments. We are a generation not only aware of the seriousness of disorders like depression and anxiety but we are actively fighting it to get help to the people who need it. An example of this would be today’s popular songs. Even across genres, this trend is apparent. Logic, an American rapper, titled his song focusing on suicide, the number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline “1-800-273-8255”. The rock community is currently debuting a collaboration on an album called “Songs That Saved my Life” for suicide prevention month.

Our mainstream music found on the radio candidly talks about heavy subjects and this echoes the importance this generation puts on mental health which many others before have shied away from. New apps and online platforms are arising each day with the advancement of technology. This is creating more places for people to find help when they so desperately need it. This even seeps into our social media in the form of warnings on Tumblr with automatic messages that arise when a user searches for suicide related images on the website. In all the ways that this concern has been implemented into our modern life, it speaks to the fact that the new generation is interested in helping those around them. Some like Ellis say this generation is delicate and lacks the ability to hear genuine critique. This stems from the entertainment the youth now finds on their phones and social media rather than from authentic human interaction. Likes are a sign of status among teens and comments are limited to praise alone and otherwise is simply deleted by the user. Options to block other users and report them allows people to avoid completely listening to another person’s criticisms. Though there is a lot of focus put onto these new social media mediums and young adults are using them to no end, this is not what should define the new generations.

The Millennials and Generation Z grew up on technology, yes, but should not be reduced to mindless screen junkies obsessed with likes by anyone. This would completely undermine their unique and frankly courageous attitude in the world. They are not opposed to hearing criticism, they are opposed to misinformation and opinion presented as fact. They don’t crumble in the face of adversity but rather demand better treatment because they believe that themselves and everyone else deserves it. They are a generation of improvement of “we can do better than that” and reform. Entertainment has evolved overtime and the millenials are not just using their phones to check their feed but utilize it as a tool to organize widespread marches like those seen in January of 2017 for the Women’s March. Their technology allows them to access information and make informed decisions that carry into important processes like voting.

Although they are privileged to have their technology and may hold it a little too dearly, Millenials and Gen Z’s are capable of doing amazing things with them. Those in agreement that the current generation is weak give us too little credit. There are radical members of any group and of the new generation it would be of those who cannot stand to hear or talk about sensitive subjects and those who waste their life away glued to a screen. But this minor part of the population should not be the defining characteristics of the mostly brave and forward thinking youth. By looking at the current morals, values and the various ways those manifest for the current youth, I think one should be able to deduce that this generation is admirable or at least one to be reckoned with. “Generation Wuss” is not us but rather a small part of the larger and much more powerful picture of the real millennials and Generation Z.

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