I should have probably published this months ago. It came to me back in June of this year, but my schedule was filling up with ideas, as I struggled to cover all my bases before maternity leave. So, here it is, hopefully none-too-late.
Hazing is a concept that we well versed in, or should be. We’ve seen trials surrounding the violence it can encompass, and the tragedies, too. Some of us call it bullying, when it’s less serious. Year after year, we’re witness to its recurrence. Usually the dynamic is between the new and previous generation(s). For instance, in a fraternity the freshman are hazed by their upperclassman. They feel this is warranted because they went through it. Some of them want to give back the torment they got. Torment? Sometimes it borders on torture. Go ahead and google hazing stories from the news.
But what is the point of torturing the next generation? The point is that the aging generation wants to give back what they got. Not all are coming from a sociopathic desire to shell out pain, but likely they’re at the center of encouraging it, as they usually do. Hazing, like it’s good side bullying, is a learned behavior. We’re taught that these actions are acceptable and expected. Picture the fraternity example again, and how much those young men enjoy the effort. Keep in mind that the pledges put up with it because they believe this is how things are supposed to be. This doesn’t erase those times they become frustrated or angered by the actions of their brothers. What it does do is give them buy in. Thus, they perpetuate the hazing to the next group that arrives beneath them. This is just how it’s done.
The other point of hazing is to ensure conformity. The expected behavior is beaten into the pledges. If they want to become full brothers they will comply. In this manner, the hazing is seen as a right of passage. Through these actions social dynamics, mores and values of the group are absorbed. The buy in.
Generationally speaking much the same dynamic is going on. To keep things clear, I will state the groups as a whole, without bothering to say that not everyone who identifies with them is doing this. (If you need that clarification, I’m not sorry you’ll be too uncomfortable to realize it is implied.) Continuing on…
There are those who enjoy spreading the pain, and encourage the hazing beyond acceptable levels. Then, there are those who want to impress those spreading the pain (as those sociopaths often situate themselves in seats of prestige among the larger group). These individuals do a great deal of the work, and take pleasure in the discomfort they cause. It makes them feel superior and strong. And these individuals recruit others through manipulation (convincing them with supposedly valid sources that justify the need for hazing). These people passively do a lot of the work. They’ve bought into the belief peddled, and go forth to evangelize. They are less direct, seeking to only confront the issues when they see them and they have the energy to speak to it.
The point here is to conform to social conventions the generation manipulating the clap backs to the new generation have bought into. It happened to them. They will pass it on to the next.
In the case of Baby Boomers, they have done this to Generation X and are shifting their attentions, quite vehemently, to the Millennials. This is why you see so many articles condemning Millennials. I saw the same thing when I was coming up, depicting my GenX as lazy good for nothings. (Google articles from the 1990s.) Unfortunately, my generation took it, and absorbed it, and largely accepted it, conforming to the expectations of their parent’s and other elders. We trusted they knew what they were saying. But, even if we didn’t, our own generation folding to the pressure began to reiterate the mantras.
A great example of this happened in 2016 during the primaries and election in the United States. Baby Boomers (especially white cisgender women) on the left cursed the Millennials on the left for not conforming and costing us the election. Never mind that there were enthusiastic supporters of Clinton from the Millennial group. Regardless, Boomers employed GenX in the brow beating they believed would make these young people comply and give them what they wanted. It was not about doing the right thing. Boomers largely had this vision in mind and thought they could leverage their years as good enough reason for others to listen and comply. What they ignored, buying into their own hazing of the Millennials, is that they were talking down to a group that is really quite savvy. Millennials are the children of GenX and Boomers. GenX hadn’t been completely beaten down when they started having kids, and they were teaching them the activism they had learned from their parents before those people were forced to comply by Traditionalists. (Remember the anti-hippy talk of the older generations during the 1960s? Those are Traditionalists.)
Just like I saw happen with GenX, I’ve witnessed a number of Millennials currying favor with Boomers and others by agreeing that their own generation is a real problem. So what are the problems these generations claim Millennials have? One is that they don’t have drive, they don’t stay in the jobs they take, their way of dressing and doing their hair, and their use of technology. It’s the usual list of complaints the older generation has for the next, because those are the things that were said to them. They learned this list and are now going to pass on the hurts to make for a buy in to the social dynamic they accepted. I’m still trying to figure out why that is so important to them to do. These were the people who brought us the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation, Free Love, and a number of other social advances that made us truly more free in the land of the free. It wasn’t perfect, and there is still work to do because they caved to the Traditionalist hazing. That’s why you hear them say, it’s too hard, as an excuse to GenX and Millennials why they wouldn’t take their issues on. They would take a long time to achieve and we needed to be realistic about it.
Well, pardon Millennials for not buying that crap. They’ve watched things come into being quite fast for their whole lives, so they know you’re blowing smoke up their ass. The problem is that the issues of today aren’t filling the sails of those in a place of power, those who can make things happen.
First of all, Millennials are driven, they’re out there looking for the right job and not taking shit in the meantime. They don’t have to, just because another generation did. Why are we still attacking people based on their clothing and style choices? I thought we were growing past the bullying and shaming. I also thought that we matured when we grew older, but I’m not seeing that here. As for technology, I think the complaints about Millennial use of technology is based on a fear of evolving technology and how it may make us irrelevant.
Perhaps hazing for conformity is about that, too. Boomers, Traditionalists, and even members of GenX are scared they will be irrelevant. I’m happy to say that GenX seems to be quite supportive of Millennials for the most part, recognizing their not gonna take shit attitudes and appreciating it. Millennials don’t want to waste time on things they know don’t work, or learn are not working. I have a lot of respect for that. I also really respect that they know
they deserve better than what they are being handed. They’re not going to work themselves to death for crumbs. Not one generation discussed here should work themselves to death for crumbs, but they have and they think others should be proud to do the same. I think that’s just insane. You should want better for the future, for your children and grandchildren.
Instead of fighting Millennials, realize that what they are exhibiting are strengths. Learn to work with them instead of pushing the fight to change them into another generation who gives up and takes the few crumbs they can grasp on the way out. Millennials are facing a lot of issues that were accepted and exacerbated by the very people trying to condemn them, and that is a huge pile crap. It’s abusive, in fact (gaslighting). Hazing for conformity here will only cripple our society further, possibly irrevocably. So let’s not haze them. Let’s listen to them and figure out what we share in common and get to work accomplishing that too hard to change list of things that has needed our attention for decades. Because, GenZ is on the way, and they deserve better than this, too.
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