Every so often, I enjoy letting someone else do the talking here. Today it’s my good friend, Kasey Brown. Many of you know her as the star of Robidoux Resident Theatre’s Mary Poppins a few weeks ago. Some of you may not know she’s also a talented and insightful writer. She’s young and beautiful, yet she’s an “old soul.” She’s not afraid to say what she thinks, even when it may go against the grain of her own generation. In short, she “gets it.” But enough from me; here’s Kasey:
Hello Common Sense readers, this is not DB. This is a 27-year-old female community thespian who lives two doors down from him. I’m also an agricultural journalist, and at many events we cover the prevalent age gap in production agriculture. The average age of farmers is nearing 60, and the role of feeding the world desperately needs young people to fill it. Because of this, we also hear a generalized list characterizing each generation in an effort to understand those around us in the workplace, wherever that may be.
This means that I hear somewhat regularly how awful my generation — the millennial generation — is. Here’s the kicker. In many ways, I agree with them.
A large age range is grouped into the millennial generation — ages 18-34, the younger of which have had technology and the Internet available to them for most of their lives. This one bold statement is why I get frustrated with my own generation.
Social media and technology are creating a generation of narcissists.
The catalyst for this blog post was a discussion that Dick and I had about a young man’s Facebook post spouting a broad political statement. One of the many reasons why I love Dick is that he pushes people to be better. We also share a love of communication, and he was trying to goad the young man into using better debate technique. The young man quickly backed down saying he was just trying to share his opinion (which was not backed by much fact). To this, Dick replied with a brilliant excerpt from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, “To air one’s views gratuitously is to imply that the demand for them is brisk.”
Social media allows people to share their opinions haphazardly. If they are connected only to like-minded people, they never need to debate or bring in facts to support their views. They can receive constant validation for sharing shallow points or seemingly endless selfies. Maybe this validation is why so many people are persistently on their phones during dinner, while at other friends’ houses, or while running errands.
What bothers me is that it makes things too easy. It’s too easy to share unfounded viewpoints and ignore contestation. It’s too easy to multitask and poorly carry on more than one conversation with different people simultaneously, even when one of them is in person. Frankly, it’s too easy to be rude.
Rudeness is not relegated to a single generation. Anyone can be rude. However, this young generation is making it a common occurrence to be rude, especially to others in their same generation, and that is not ok.
There is hope, though. Social media is not all bad. It can be a great tool to share your life with friends and family who live far away, or even to connect more with those nearby. It can also be used to share valid information — like this blog, of course.
For instance, another major topic at many beef industry conferences is the growing lack of understanding between ag producers and consumers. Most consumers are more than three generations removed from the farm now and just don’t know how food gets to their table.
I recently shared an admittedly controversial editorial about why the author doesn’t buy organic produce, and I agreed with his points. I did get some comments that challenged me and what resulted was a thoughtful, civil and engaging discussion on the Internet.
It really did give me hope. Yes, the tools are out there to facilitate a generation of narcissists. I hope my fellow millennials can learn to put down our smartphones every once in a while, so maybe we can stop being characterized so poorly in generation breakdowns. More importantly, I challenge any reader out there, regardless of age, to maintain your manners.