COVID-19 or the coronavirus is seemingly changing everything about what we do and how we do it. Small businesses are closing their doors, hospitals and health care workers are overwhelmed, schools are closed, proms canceled, and travel halted.
This outbreak is causing unprecedented fear, anxiety, confusion, and grief that many of us have never experienced before. We do not have the answers to when our lives will return to “normal” again or what that “normal” will even resemble.
Although all age groups are being impacted, both by the actual virus, as well as its ripple effects, each appears to be affected in a different way. While those of advanced age are confronting the existential realities of death and the decline of the human body, Boomers are wondering what this is doing to their business, their stocks, and their retirement plan.
While they and the Gen Xers that constitute much of the workforce must continue the work of adjusting to life online, Millennials are often leading the way in the integration of technology into their work and lives. However, younger millennials are still in many ways struggling to launch or save their career from a world riddled with fear and panic.
Although the youngest generations are also impacted by the disruption in their lives such as virtual and distance learning, loss of being able to see their friends, and missed opportunities, their concerns in many ways continue to be invalidated by their adult counterparts.
It seems that everywhere we look, whether it be the news or social media, one group or another is being berated for doing something during this pandemic that should not be done. Especially initially, as each generation is looking for someone to hold responsible, those that belong to the millennial generation were publicly chastised for their response to the global pandemic.
But Wait, Who are millennials?
Millennials are those that were born between 1981 and 1996, with the oldest millennials approaching forty and the youngest being about twenty-four.
Some of the key frustrations that have been expressed by Millennials during this time is their confusion with members of Generation-Z. Many baby boomers were calling on these so-called millennials to go home from spring break and shelter in place.
However, millennials are firing back that those instances are not them, millennials are not in college, and therefore not partying on their spring breaks. They are either at home with their children managing the shift to working from home and balancing their children’s new virtual learning or have been laid off or furloughed and are trying to shield themselves from eviction, going without food, or accruing even greater debt as they try to remain afloat.
Millennials are adamant that they too are working hard to ensure their safety during and after this crisis, and the ones that baby boomers are really looking to chastise are the gen-z generation.
So, We’ve Found the Culprit
So now that we know that it is members of Generation Z to blame, who were reluctant to give up on their plans for spring break, shouldn’t we all feel better now?
The answer that you already know is “no”. Blaming others for the predicaments of life has no actual influence on whether we feel better about it. The answer is not to place blame and further divide, but to practice empathy and understanding.
To quote a beloved character from the mind of J.K. Rowling, “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.” -Albus Dumbledore
Spend just a few moments considering what the youth of today are up against. Three months of their lives or six, or one year seems like an eternity. The wisdom of age reminds you that it is not.
Many have been robbed of their senior year of high school, or of college, of promising sports seasons, and the potential for scholarships. Others have spent years working in pursuit of dreams that are now canceled, postponed, or forever lost to them. Many are newly lost, directionless, and finding themselves living back home with their parents.
Sure, it is easy to become upset at the actions that others did or did not take, but again, before we jump to old and worn narratives about how “it’s all their fault”, consider that this pandemic has been hard on all of us. It has left no one unaffected, and we are all struggling to cope in the best way that we know how.
Intergenerational blame and preconceived notions about what others are (or are not) doing are only contributing to the divisiveness in this country that sparks the ideas of individualism and thwarts the collectivist idea that we must take care of each other.
We must instead focus on what we can control, protect our minds from judgments at face value, and continue to take the best steps we can to protect our physical and mental health.
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