Millennials and boomers have been at each other’s throats for a while, but what is the source of this age discrimination and how can we finally put it to bed?
What is Age Discrimination
Age discrimination is the act of treating a person a particular way based on their age. Preventing age-related clashes is more difficult than ever due to ageist assumptions made by each generation. Everyone knows the stereotypes, like a millennial won’t work a moment past 5:00 PM and boomers don’t understand technology. As you’ve probably already guessed, these assumptions are hurtful and untrue. Most millennials have multiple jobs and a boomer invented the internet.
The Idea of the “Other”
So, if these stereotypes are untrue, why are they so widespread across all generations? It’s because of something called the “in” group. This is the group by which you identify, the group to which you consider yourself to be a part. Everyone else is the “other.” The other is a social construct created by groups and is used simply as a way for a group to define what they are not. The in-group will often identify themselves with positive traits while associating the other with negative.
This is a fundamental building block to stereotypes and discrimination. Right now, there are four generations in the workforce and each one defines itself by positive in-group traits and negative other traits.
The Feeling is Mutual
The funny thing is, both groups feel the same about being othered by in-groups. No one likes it. But this argument is nothing new. Dating back to the beginning of recorded history, older generations have been at odds with the new. All throughout human existence, the new generation is the worst the older generation has ever seen. And according to the new generation, the older generation is out of touch or, worse yet, irrelevant. But if we know this is part of othering, why then still ascribe to these faulty stereotypes?
How to Be United
The more time we spend thinking about our differences, the more othered each group becomes. What we should be doing is looking for similarities, like all in-groups want to be valued. The negative othering needs to stop on all sides in order to create a more empathetic and fair society in which all groups are seen for their positive in-group traits.
Want to learn more about connecting to the next generation? Check out this article!
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