Talking About My Generation
Not quite an open letter to Generation Z from a bothered and aging millennial
You know, I initially took to Facebook to address the issues I have with your generation, Gen Z — but not only did it feel like posting a single status on the platform wouldn’t suffice, but it also occurred to me most of you don’t spend much time there nowadays anyhow. Now, while I don’t fault you for that, there’s plenty I blame and resent you for — or at least a majority of you — and I figured this was the healthiest outlet and tallest platform I have to express it all.
To be clear and just so there are no misunderstandings, Generation Z is defined as those born in 1996 or after. Where the cutoff point is is not important for the purposes of this letter — because clearly, I’m not addressing babies and infants. In the interest of keeping it professional, I won’t even take the bait of that low-hanging fruit of an easy joke I could have made right there.
Anyway, moving on.
The oldest of you are 25 or will be later on this calendar year. You are by no means children. However, despite what your parents or Tik Tok followers tell you, are not nearly as grown, smart, or as interesting as you think you are.
This applies to everyone who has ever been twenty-five, myself included. However, your generation is in a glaringly desperate need of having someone humbly teach them that lesson and while I’m not implying this letter is that — consider it a general introduction to said lesson.
A Tale of Two Generations
Www.pewresearch,org describes your generation as “on track to becoming the most educated generation yet”. Congratulations but before you start patting each other on the back, please understand exactly what they’re saying. They mean formally, obviously. While I know you are all book smart enough to understand as much, let’s discuss what the majority of you lack, in part, because of that dedication to your extended formal education.
Not to mention so many of you only went to college because you didn’t have the backbone to stand up to your parents and tell them you weren’t going to college because you were going to do what so many from my generation didn’t but wish they did and follow your actual dream. But hey, I get it.
While I understand Generation Z isn’t entirely to blame for all of its shortcomings and you are all essentially just a product of modern times, you lack real-life experience and basic street survival skills in a way no twenty-something should, nor has before you. By “street survival skills”, I don’t mean surviving actually living on the street among the homeless — but just basic street smarts.
This is because, as far as I can tell, your generation doesn’t seem to spend very much time outside in general, let alone in the streets. Sure, not spending time in “the streets” has its positives. There’s plenty I witnessed in the ones I grew up running, which I wish I hadn’t. But they are also responsible for some of the best memories of my life. I met some of my best friends, by just hanging out in the streets as a kid and teen. My corner was my social media platform.
Beyond that though, I learned profoundly valuable lessons on them, ones you can’t pickup in a classroom. They taught me about people in a way no humanities course could’ve. Philadelphia streets showed me everyone wasn’t my friend and that most people are their own worst enemy, myself included. Roaming the streets as a teen was a right of passage for not only my friends and I and our entire generation but of many generations that came before us as well.
Though initially, the intention was just to have fun, party, and bullshit — we may not have realized it at the time, but eventually, we picked up valuable life skills while we were at it. Gems like how to stand up for yourself, and to choose your battles wisely.
Some of us learned not to say the wrong thing to the wrong person the hard way — but nevertheless, we learned. We were more careful with our words from that day on, as it didn’t take a science class to teach us every action had a reaction. And sometimes that reaction was a literal punch in the face.
Put plainly, I can’t help but feel many Gen Z’ers simply haven’t been punched in the face enough, if ever. While I by no means consider myself an advocate of violence, I honestly don’t think I would like who I’d be or would’ve become if I was never punched in the face. Beyond the informal lesson in discipline it inherently instilled, it toughens you up mentally. You realize you’re likely capable of enduring far more than you thought — physically or otherwise.
Yes, I’m aware suggesting an entire generation hasn’t been punched in the face anywhere near frequently enough for my liking, and society’s overall well-being isn’t politically correct. Some of you younger Gen Z’ers may even be feeling a bit triggered as a result — a perfect segway into my next, and possibly biggest gripe with the generation after mine.
Cancelling the Cancellers
To trash cancel culture, would be to kick a dead horse while it’s down, so I’ll do my best to keep it brief when discussing and describing what a cancer I believe it to be to art, actual culture and progress, and our society as a whole.
Just this week, the folks who wake up each morning surfing the internet searching for something to be outraged about, no matter how benign or outdated, have gone after the children’s toy Mr. Potato Head, iconic kids author Dr. Suess and legendary rapper Eminem.
The idea anyone anywhere found anything about the first two I named even remotely offensive is comically absurd and reminiscent of a scenario we would’ve only seen play out in the likes of an SNL skit, just a few short years ago. It’s not worthy of even arguing against but at the same time is a shining example of just how soft and sheltered some of us are or are in danger of allowing ourselves to become — whether of Generation Z or otherwise.
The third, while far more understandable, is nothing more than a collection of pre-teens and high school freshmen on TikTok complaining about the lyrics of songs Eminem wrote when they were in kindergarten because they just stumbled upon them accidentally on their babysitter’s Spotify playlist.
If Eminem was going to be canceled, it would have been when entire legitimate organizations were protesting outside of places his music was being sold — marching, signs, the whole bit. To no avail. All it did was help him sell more records. He is the best-selling rapper of all time, and there’s really nothing left for him to achieve as a rapper, to be honest.
However, my generation will not allow you to come for Eminem with impunity. You’ve simply crossed a line with this one. You cannot cancel the uncancelable. However, rather than argue with you — I’ll simply allow time to prove me right.
He’s eligible to be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in early 2022, and despite cowardly cancel attempts from soft and sheltered Gen-Z’ers who have turned becoming outraged over words into an art form, Eminem will undoubtedly get in by a landslide and solidify his legacy as an uncancelable force who absolutely mastered his art and craft.
My biggest problem with cancel culture, is it attempts to not only censor art and works of creativity a handful of people it often wasn’t intended for anyhow don’t agree with — but it’s usually some of the most masterful works by some of the best to ever do it, it tends to target.
Rather than just not support the artist or their work personally, these people take to the internet with pathetic displays of obvious virtue signaling, as they attempt to cripple the livelihood of another human being, ruin their careers and reputations and effect their ability to feed their kids and families.
For no real reasons other than they want others to believe they’re good people, and sadly having absolutely nothing better to do with their time and lives. It is this obsession with outrage, this obligation to be offended on behalf of others and tear down statues of historical figures instead of building up other modern day people, including each other, where Generation- Z is the most misguided and off target. As well as, to be honest — outright obnoxious and annoying.
While I can’t singlehandedly blame Gen Z for cancel culture, this latest nonsense concerning some of Eminem’s more moderate lyrics proves you’re as much to blame for it as anyone else — and it’s likely no coincidence cancel culture wasn’t around when you’s weren’t.
Listen, as critical as I am of Generation Z, I do respect and empathize with you. Which is why I tried to keep this as constructively critical and mildly worded as my deeply seeded grievances and gripes with you all would allow.
I mean after all, some of you are literally the children of friends and family members of mine. Not only that, but many of you stand and speak up for causes you believe in which are truly worth your time, energy and effort and I commend you for it.
It’s just my belief you’re better off implementing ideas and ideals that have the potential to improve our collective futures rather than your over-inflated sense of self righteousness criticizing a history you weren’t around for — let alone attempting to tell grown adults what they are or are not allowed to say, watch, wear, consume or listen to. The thing about the constitution is it doesn’t exist just to protect the freedoms and liberties you agree with. Which is really fortunate for the rest of us.
Sincerely, An Eminem Loving almost middle aged millennial who has no interest in hearing from any Gen-Z’ers who were offended by this