If you ask me what word describes my generation the best, in the blink of an eye, I will say misjudged. Yes, the generation that precedes us misjudges more often than not. They have put labels on us, before understanding or giving us the time to show our true potential. They call us irresponsible, arrogant, emotionless, selfish, lazy, aimless, lost, and basically all negative things that can come to anyone’s mind. A line by our elders that all of us have heard innumerable times is “Aaj kal ke bachche”. And it is always said in a rather taunting tone.
I urge all you parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties to take a look at what your kids are doing, what your neighbor’s kids are doing. Talk to them, ask them what their dreams are, about their opinions, a little about their aspirations, their hopes, and their plans. Do not impose on them your plans about their future, but rather ask what they would like to do, instead.
I can say with conviction that my generation and the “kids these days” have more influential ideas than you give them credit for. These folks out there, whom you belittle every now and then, are smart, intelligent, loving and caring. Did you ever care what is happening to people in Afghanistan or Syria? Or about the environmental degradation that your generation has caused in the name of development? Or about millions of kids suffering from depression? And even if you did care, did you do anything to solve these issues? Did you speak up about them? My generation does.
The generation whom you call irresponsible and emotionless is working on real time problems. They are bringing up issues faced by LGBT community that you fear to speak about. The youth is fighting against gender inequality that is deep rooted in our culture. They are making the world become more global. You say we have forgotten our culture? If only you would stop forcing your kids to become engineers or doctors would you see writers, poets, artists and actors, who are striving hard to revive the rich culture that is lost.
We love an Italian dish as much as we enjoy spicy Indian food. Lehenga choli or shorts, we carry both with equal grace. It’s a global world. Stop judging our patriotism by the food we eat or the clothes we wear.
Look around, and you will find nine-year-old writers, ten-year-old environmentalists, eleven-year-old social activists, twelve-year-old entrepreneurs, thirteen-year-old coders. So much potential, enthusiasm, creativity, sensitivity, and all you choose to call us is aimless?
You are damn right when you label us as impatient. Because we know that the world is fast changing, and all we have is this one tiny life to make a difference, to leave behind a better world for our future generation. We are not scared of relationships. We just don’t want anyone to impose it on us. Things like love, care, affection and satisfaction take a time to develop. And we are in no hurry. Our generation does not always use social media to hit like or swipe right or gain popularity. We use it to connect, to stay in touch with old friends, new friends, with kith and kin. The media today spreads awareness, generates curiosity about new things, shares the good so as to bring down the negativity.
So next time, before you throw an adjective on this ‘Unsanskari’ generation, take out an hour from your busy schedule to sit down for a chat with them and I can assure you, the wall of stereotypes that you have built will shatter down.
“The Misunderstood Generation” has been edited by Aashna Kanuga