a generational thing?

i’ve been in kauai the last few days and it has been absolutely fantastic. this island is rightfully known as the garden isle. i have never seen so much green. it’s beautiful and mesmerizing. i’m lucky enough to be here because my dad has a client out here that likes to do biannual family retreats. everyone gets together and spends a bit of time getting to know each other outside of the office.

it’s a great idea.

we’ve been having dinner each night after they have meetings during the day. yesterday, they played a game of golf. it was a scramble so it was all just fun and games. at the end of the day, they had a dinner to celebrate their time together and thank everyone for making it out here.

dinner was a buffet, and the food was so tasty that if the island hadn’t already drained me of any worries, this buffet would’ve done the trick.

as we were all devouring our food, the chitchat began. of course, i was ready to field the usual questions: so how are you so lucky to get out here? are you in school? oh that’s nice, what year are you? do you know what you’re studying yet? any plans for after school? what did you do with your summer? and so on. they tend to come in waves, and they’re normally asked by the group, so it’s not nearly as obnoxious as being bombarded with the same questions by different people all throughout the night.

once we got the small talk out of the way, it was really nice to get to hang out with everyone. just to paint you a little picture, there was an open bar, the buffet didn’t close for a while, and there was a full moon overhead.

at our table, it was me, my parents, and about 3 other couples. most were from hawaii, but there was another man there from texas at the table. by this time, we had all had a few drinks so we were all feeling pretty good.

lets put it this way, everyone was a bit more vocal than when the meal began and the wine was poured.

we started talking about the round of golf today and my dad told his beloved story of his perfect drive on the 18th hole. long story short, he hit 3 really nice shots that helped his team stay alive on the final hole. he was really proud. by this telling of the story, i had heard it 3 times. i was in for another 2 or 3 times before the night was over. but as the story unraveled, my mom turned to texas-man and asked if his children ever played golf?

to fill you in, i dropped the game when i was about 10 and i still haven’t heard the last of it. my mom wasn’t too excited about it.

but as texas was telling of his son and daughter, the table slowly turned toward a discussion of the changing generations.

one minute we were talking about golf and the next we were talking about retirement funds and social penchants. both of which i know little of. but the conversation went on.

things got a bit more interesting.

from their perspective, the generations were split pretty neatly.

there was their generation, the baby boomers, who were just coming into retirement age and are starting to deal with the economy’s inability to support many of them. i don’t know the details, but that was the general feeling i got.

then there’s the generation below them. paraphrasing their words, this generation is the one that is obsessed with the now, constantly changing and creating without enjoying the present. i don’t know how much i agree or disagree with that. there is obviously a culture of innovation, but it seems to me that it’s about enhancing the present rather than watching it go by.

that’s my take on it.

they then continued on to talk about my generation.

they decided that we are the socially and environmentally conscious ones. in all honestly, i was very angry that they decided to peg a generation with such markers. it might be true, it might not be true, but to condense it to a specific group of people is simply not productive. the idea that my generation is more environmentally and socially aware simply means that others aren’t. it means that others have more that they should and could be doing to benefit our environment.

i realize that in writing this, i am affirming what they’re saying but i’m also saying that this point of view is making us work backwards. this is placing the responsibility on everyone else while ignoring your own.

as new technology comes out, the environmental side of things becomes more accessible and physically present.

this is a good thing.

but this also removes the need for small everyday changes.

as we focus on the big picture, it’s important not to lose sight of the little details.  

in terms of the social awareness, be careful. i’m going to use racism as a case study here. racism and other social problems are not going away. being socially aware does not mean that these problems don’t exist. being socially aware means recognizing these problems and dealing with them. my main worry right now is that people are convincing themselves that racism does not exist.

racism is here to stay.

every now and again, it just putting on a different mask. it comes out in new ways. micro-aggressions are everywhere and they’re more subtle and easier to ignore.

so i say to this, our generation is dealing with racism in a different way, just as it’s dealing with other social issues in a different way.

again, big picture is looking better and better, but the small details are still nagging at us.

stepping away from the idea of racism and environmentalism, consider the idea of social issues as timeless. no matter the generation, there is always going to be a problem that needs fixing.

this is another check yourself moment.

labeling generations is fine, but is it productive? does it get us anywhere? what do you think? how have you seen issues, socially, technologically, environmentally, play out in your daily life? would you assign a label to your generation?


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