Filipino Millennials: Kids These Days

By Krip Yuson

When one refers to kids these days, inevitably the subject of Millennials will come up. Not all of them can be considered kids anymore, or at all, since they’re supposed to be the generation of young people born between 1982 and sometime in the early 2000s, with these boundaries not exactly set in stone.

That means that our children and grandchildren who are barely in their teens to those already nearing their mid-30s are considered millennials — also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, the demographic group that followed Generation X.

Millennials are now acknowledged as having outnumbered the Baby Boomers, that outsize generation that came soon after World War 2 — understandably so, since all the soldier guys came back home, hungry for an era of peace and then some.

Oh, Millennials have been getting it, in terms of negative criticism. Pampered, so self-entitled, incapable of institutional commitment, ignorant of history, aimless… Confident of their technological savvy and go-getter attitude, they are seen as the scourge of business establishments that experience high turnover. The complaint is that they simply resign when they can no longer handle pressure.

On FB recently, there was this entry from Augusto Antonio Aguila:

“I read in one thesis that Millennials have been pampered by their parents. They were allowed to watch TV or listen to music until the wee hours of the morning. They never experienced being subjected to corporal punishment. They were praised to high heavens for getting passing grades. Their parents also didn’t want them to experience what they had experienced kaya may sense of entitlement.”

Then, too, Millennials have also expressed themselves with a mature voice, as Nash Tysmans recently did in an essay for a national broadsheet:

“What do I know about martial law? I’m a Millennial. I was not there. I did not have the privilege of winning our freedom by resisting the dictatorship. I have only my youth and the burden of memory.” And yes, Nash showed up at the Rizal Park rally that day, in protest of a controversial burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Filipino Millennials: Kids These Days

With good reason, others have defended Millennials, explaining their “softness” and malleability of character based on exactly the same variables of their easy passage early in life, but reasoning out that it’s perfectly understandable, and that they should just be left alone to mature in their own way.

Even long before the current polemics on Millennials, more in reference to the Gen X-ers were publicly listed traditions of playtime that were supposed to have privileged us oldies. That our time wasn’t entirely taken up by gadgets, in lieu of which we climbed trees and played in the dirt, engaged in games conducted in large company out on a sandlot, fields or streets. We biked without helmets, earned our badges of youthful derring-do with cuts and bruises, but were quick to come home when summoned by our folks.

But of course there will always be differences in the way kids grow up — as different generations and in different arenas within distinct national boundaries. The recent Olympics in Rio brought out the fact that black athletes can also compete favorably in swimming despite the fact that in America, public pools had long suffered from segregation. Meanwhile, scientific studies have also skirted increasing demands of political correctness by establishing that, true enough, genes and environment — inclusive of bio-mechanical attributes — have been strong factors in why East Africans are better at marathon running while West Africans are more suited to sprints. Or that Asian athletes with their smaller frames, specifically the Chinese, dominate sports that demand agility and flexibility, such as Olympic diving, ping-pong and badminton. To each her/his own then of genetic and environmental influence.

These are all general observations. Yet culturally, away from sports, we have long admired the way Japanese schoolchildren are diligently trained to cooperate with one another and their environment. They clean up their own classrooms and school facilities, in fact are freed from any scholastic tests until they reach Grade 4, in favor of exercising cleanliness, obedience, and teamwork.

One could say however that these cultural differences start to pale when a global phenomenon takes hold. Kids the world over dreamt of flying on broomsticks and mastering wands and spells upon reading the Harry Potter series thence getting caught up in the movie versions as well. Before that, kids played with Lego blocks, and after, robot ensembles that could be transformed from vehicles to seemingly indestructible warriors. These days, Pokémon Go has everyone in thrall — in malls, parks, church plazas, private neighborhoods and establishments, out on the streets. Since its release in July 2016 in selected countries, since steadily expanded, the location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android gizmos has millennials AND their parents tracking an entire set of prey. And younger people, those we might say of Generation Z who are now pubescent at best, have joined in.

Ah, kids these days. The old thrills may be gone, but replacing them are more and more instances of reality gone hyper. We shouldn’t ever dread the future, nor the imagined enemy — since long ago we figured out that the enemy is us, as kids and especially when we became adults.

Okay, maybe “frenemy” is the better term, especially when applying it to the young whom we’ll never really outgrow — as we stay young at heart ourselves.

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