This week I overheard an expression I hadn’t heard before…where one lady was talking to another about the ‘strawberry’ generation.
I was at the supermarket so I naturally assumed that something that was afoot in the fruit and vegetable aisle. Alas, no. A diatribe of derogatory comments followed about how soft, selfish, and delicate the kids of today are, compared to their own hardy and steadfast generation. I got the point; the metaphor was obvious, even to me. In fact, rather than a new expression, I had heard the same nonsense before under the guise of the so-called “snowflake” generation. Perhaps it’s something to celebrate when East and West are so united.
In fact, there’s been a long tradition of naming generations based on when people were born:
- Baby boomers – 1946-64
- Gen X – 1965-1980
- Gen Y (Millennials) – 1981-96
- Gen Z (Zoomers) – 1997-2012…
There’s a narrative that history has shaped the cultural traits of each generation and how they might see the world. I think that’s reasonable on the whole (I welcome evolving values on so many issues) but I really get irritated when people judge other generations (wholesale) based on a date of birth as the basis to confirm whatever nonsense has just crossed their minds. I just don’t buy it.
But it doesn’t really matter what I think, does it? We all love to label things, and there’s just no stopping it. Seth Godin recently published an article advocating for the latest generation to be named Gen C. He thinks it’s going to stick and I think he’s probably right.
C if for COVID, C is for Carbon, and C is for Climate.
According to Godin, the combination of years of school spend at home, in a mask, restricted by lockdowns, combined with the significant revolutions of our times (political, economic, social, and technological) means that every decision, investment, and interaction will be filtered by Gen C through the lens of carbon, remediation, and resilience.
This resonates with me. It’s both optimistic and pragmatic. It’s not a label that is trying to posthumously describe a generation; it’s one that recognizes where our kids are, the challenges that we have left them, and the work ahead to protect humanity.
Generation C didn’t ask for any of this, but this is the hand they have been dealt. Calling them strawberries or snowflakes, or any other disparaging label…it’s just not what I’m seeing in our young people…is not how we should be honouring our future.
I see young people who connect, who collaborate, and who care. Of course, there are selfish, lazy, and apathetic young people in our Gen C, but don’t let us kid ourselves that these traits are not alive and kicking across all the ages of time.
But if you really do think that kids these days are lacking, you will at least be in good company:
“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers”. Socrates, 2400 years ago.