"So, you're complaining about being stuck in traffic while going to school? At least, you're going by car. In our times, I had to walk six miles to go to school and walk back the same way to return home. Kids today have their never-ending complaints," said Mr Karim, father of Zinat Maliha, a sophomore at IBA, University of Dhaka.
Often, we hear such remarks from elderly people when they see people of the later generations struggling with or ranting about any difficult situations. The complaints adults make about kids through the ages are always the same-- young people are lazy, entitled, and act in self-serving ways.
There seems to be a discerning pattern where older people always grumble about the young's convenience and how the former had it tougher. The young, in turn, always sighs of exasperation.
A science reporter from the US, Brian Resnick said, "Here's a prediction: These "OK boomer" young people are going to get older and start complaining about the youth of the future. They'll probably use the same insults, complaining that the kids of the 2050s and 2060s are more entitled, more narcissistic, and less self-sufficient than those of generations past."
This has already been proven to be true. "Some seniors from the previous SSC batches, who gave their exams in a 6-7 Creative Questions (CQ) format, slammed many of the SSC candidates of 2021 on their woes and reactions after the first exam. They said that they got 130 minutes for two CQs and still managed to get things done and that our sorrows were unnecessary and didn't make sense as we got 75 minutes to write 2 CQs," said Muqtadir Hossain Khan, who was an SSC examinee this year from Dhaka Residential Model School and College, "A little empathy from the seniors would have encouraged a lot, but instead they claimed that we were making an issue out of nowhere"
"It seems like there is a memory problem," says John Protzko, a University of California Santa Barbara psychologist, "A memory tic that just keeps happening, generation after generation."
Also, generations are always complaining about each other, which too often leads to ‘Generationalism’ -- or just a general bias or prejudice against a group of people, based on when they were born. These biases could just be more of a general reflection of age. Young people tend to be always more self-centered and narcissistic whereas the decrepit generation is always a little set in their ways.
A recent study conducted by Protzko showed that adults who are more authoritarian are more likely to say kids today are a lot less respectful of elders than they used to be. Adults who are more well-read say kids today are a lot less interested in reading than they used to be. And adults who are more intelligent (as approximated by a very short version of an IQ test) are more likely to say kids are less smart than they used to be.
The study even provided an experimental manipulation that led to adults judging kids these days harshly. In the experiment, some adults took a test to assess how well-read they are. Some were given false feedback and were told they were less well-read than they really were. These adults then judged the kids less harshly, becoming less likely to say kids these days don't read as much. When adults are led to think they're not well-read, they may recall a past where kids are less well-read.
Other possible causes include ‘kids these days’ -- a cultural trope that people are taught, or it could be linked to the belief that the past, overall, was better than the present.
"Whatever the cause is, adults should cut the youth some slack. If anything, multiple types of research show the rising Gen Z, at least, is better in many ways than generations past: They're doing fewer drugs, drinking less alcohol, and having physical intimacy more responsibly at older ages," said Zinat Maliha, who is also the head of Administration at Moshal Mental Health.
Yet the bias persists. And it persists, in part, because of how adults see themselves.