Two very different perspectives on last week’s riots, Archie Manners believes the “lost generation” is a trap many fall into for no reason. Like this blog, he believes that the media have no right to use this as an excuse to cast Britain’s youth in a bad light.
A LOST GENERATION was the headline that greeted The Sun’s 6 million readers the morning after the day before. Following the turmoil in London and elsewhere in the UK there is growing concern that the youth of today has erupted in to a ball of self-motivated thugs.
To be fair I can see why people may fall in to this trap. In many ways it is easy to perceive today’s young as different. As Violent. As Thugs. There is little doubt that we are not like any other generation that has gone before us. We play inside, they went out. We use technology, they didn’t. We are sometimes rude, they scarcely were. Assuming that those assumptions (and many more) are correct, perhaps it is fair to see the recent riots as the amalgamation of clashing generations.
Yet this is not right on three counts. Firstly it wasn’t just the young, secondly many young aren’t like that at all, and finally these differences in generational style are to be celebrated, not seen as a negative aspect to our lives.
The media seem to be taking great pleasure in putting Britain’s young down. And no more so than at the moment. However, it is not just the young that have incited or carried out these riots. It is a cross-section of society that falls into that disruptive category of sloth. It is not reminiscent of the Childrens’ uprisings in the workhouses but more of the riots that surrounded the Hagia Sophia in medieval Constantinople. By that I mean that it was a cross-section of society and not a closed sect. Rich, poor, old, young, black and white. We love to categorise, but in this instance it is just wrong. Due to the nature of a riot the mean age is of course lower than the average in the country, but it is just inaccurate (as many have stated) to call them youths. It categorises. It inflames. It makes things a lot worse.
This categorisation is beginning (if it hasn’t already) to chastise the young and get to them. There are many young people outraged that they feel put in to a bracket to which they have no affiliation whatsoever. We need to realise that as much as the media (and others) want to put us all down as thugs they can’t. Once again it is wrong. And it hurts.
I believe that there are many differences between our generation and the generations that have preceded us. I don’t know whether there was a derogatory attitude to my parents’ generation when they were growing up or not. But there certainly is for our generation. Each generation is different and by virtue of that difference is not always compatible with earlier generations. As such the older members of our society need to recognise that we are different. They need to understand that maybe we have different aims, that we have different values. Most importantly they need to respect the fact that these differences make us no less worthy, no less successful, and no less human than them. If the older generations would embrace our differences and give us some respect as a generation, then they may see a smoother relationship with a more productive society.