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Viewpoint: 'This generation'

Submitted by Jill Hutcheson

I have heard the words "this generation" more than I could've imagined throughout the past couple of years. Some of my favorite words about "this generation" is unmotivated, unsuccessful and just plain lazy. Every time I hear it I cringe. I am guessing the people that say it are not directly working with "this generation." They are not hands-on and they are viewing "this generation" from the outside rather than getting really involved with these kids.

I remember when it used to be "my generation" and people were concerned about work ethic, flip phones and Sega Genesis. I remember my daily routine was get up, go to school, check my flip phone, go to lunch, talk with my friends, go to practice, go to another practice, take care of my animals, have dinner with my family, "dial up" the internet and once on I would sit on Yahoo Messenger and talk to my friends that I just left at school, go to bed and repeat next day. Looking back it was pretty easy stuff. I remember people telling me how worried they were about "my generation," and they questioned how they were ever going to be successful adults. Well thankfully for "my generation" we made it. Most are living successful lives going down whatever path they had dreamed of as a young child.

Unfortunately for "this generation" things aren't getting any easier. Think about the temptations "this generation" has over all the others. They are constantly being pressured with things I didn't have had to worry about. They are constantly being judged by their peers through social media and other internet outlets. The marketing techniques that are being used to lure these kids to do drugs, alcohol and tobacco products is more teen-focused than ever. And on top of that Fortnite has taken over their brains, just like Donkey Kong did to mine 20 years ago.

For many of these kids in "this generation" their schedules are tougher mainly because of easy access to social media. A lot of these kids wake up, check phone to see how many likes they got, grab breakfast as they run out the door, sit on bus and look at phone, get to school and realize one of their best friends was bullied through Snapchat, try to talk to a counselor (usually only one or two in a school so maybe that counselor has another 20 kids in line), make it to class but only just in time, go to lunch, go back to class, go to practice, go to another practice, check social media, have dinner with family, check social media again and maybe go to bed after watching multiple YouTube videos. To me this schedule looks a lot like mine besides the fact that internet/social media is so easily accessible.

"This generation" has it tough. They have to deal with so much more than I did when I was a kid 20 years ago. They battle every day to put on a face that is "acceptable" for social media. They have to hide how they might feel because its not "socially acceptable" to put how they really feel. If a kid breaks their arm it's so cool and everyone wants to sign their cast but if a kid's brain is hurting they can't tell anyone because of the stigma around mental health.

Trust me when I say these kids are tough and resilient. "This generation" is something I am proud to call our future. These kids work hard, bounce back and want to change the world. I see it every day in my profession and "this generation" will make us proud. So next time you want to say something about "this generation" please think it through. Think about what they go through and how much they are battling every day to prove all you naysayers wrong. Give these kids some credit and next time you see one of them, tell them how proud you are of them for resisting all the pressures around them. Tell them you can't wait to see what they do with this country one day, tell them they can and will succeed, who knows maybe they will change the world.