YOU speak your young mind, across platforms, and even your silence means more amid the digital noise. Every action you take is visible, and shareable. Every new love captured in “selfies” and posted on Facebook, until it becomes too complicated, and an emoticon appears with tears in his eyes. Your society is so open, like some of the clothes that young people wear, unbuttoned to a point where the teasing begins. You get to decide your level of privacy through settings. When I was young, everything was private.
I like the openness of your culture, the freedom for you to navigate your career. I like the accessibility of information, where diversity delivers a tapestry of emotions, each color representing a cause: blue for peace, rainbow for LGBT rights, and purple for women. When I was young, we had the quintessential peace sign, which many thought was radical enough. Protest was based on the length of one’s hair.
I worry. The speed by which judgments are rendered on ideas big and small can be unnerving. Whose opinion is more informed? Whose latest tirades come from poisoned wells? Why do we read more about hate nowadays, as if it’s a recipe common to all kitchens? Who do you seek guidance from, when in most of your conversations, we, the elders, are nowhere to be found?
Then I see my daughter, a millennial, lugging bed sheets and comforters to sell to friends, boldly creating a small business for herself. She owns a consulting firm and recently decided to register an online venture. And I see my niece, already an office manager at less than 30 years old, making huge decisions for a workforce that had seen longer days. My generation hangs on to old memories, when women wore stockings to work, and men wore the same kind of socks–-plain black, or dark blue. People my age follow a strict routine to include decisions on the kind of medication to take in the morning, and what needs to go down at night. Young people buy memberships in 24/7 gyms and spend more on organic food.
Your confidence amazes me. How the youth of today gets into debates online yet get fidgety with the long silences at home hints at the urgency of your lives. We were a little slower back then, conscious of our parents’ and grandparents’ voices, not wanting to hurt anyone when voicing an opinion. Today, spoken word is an art form, and Twitter captures momentary thoughts, episodic encounters. Everyone has become so articulate. Unfortunately, saying stuff is the easy part. Getting things done requires more significant pauses, and difficult decisions.
Back when we were young, we read newspapers and passed them on, physically, to friends and family. We subscribed to them, or someone went out in the morning to buy them. I had to wait for my father to read the entire paper while drinking his early morning coffee, before swooping in to take the paper to my bedroom.
Today, we consume the news through mobile apps, podcasts and live-streamed videos. Every mobile device serves as a portal to radio stations, TV networks and newspapers powered by a bank. I love my Spotify, and get so engrossed in Netflix. My generation had to walk to the TV set to change the channel. Remote controls came much later, and cable was just a cord. Today, you have airplanes that offer Wi-Fi, and YouTube channels that provide instant access to popular videos across the world.
Back then, we elected leaders on the basis of what they know or appear to know. Character was king and knowledge was power. Today, we elect leaders on the basis of celebrity-hood. The youth of today deserves a millennial “Claro M. Recto,” one who writes, thinks and argues with depth and unparalleled patriotism. My generation had politicians that read books, did research, and wrote their own speeches. Although today, a young intellectual can rise so quickly even without going through elections, and have the entire world as his or her audience.
But then who has the time to listen? We can barely connect the dots in our own personal lives. The young people of today move faster, decide quicker, and are able to acquire more to the point that they can own a car while still applying for a license to drive. It took me years to apply for my first car loan.
Dear Millennial, put your speed to good use. Be strategic. Use mobile apps to learn more, and while you may be earning more than we did at your age, be wise because on your shoulders our final sunset rests. We look at you, in full bloom, and marvel at the dexterity that technology provides. But, hey, please take the time to discern what’s more important. You take photos of food served in restaurants. We have memories of mothers cooking, and grandmothers praying before meals were served.
We want to hold your hand but can’t compete with your latest gadget. We were young once, too, and thought the world was ours. Until the people we loved were no longer in it, and we realized: “Where did time go?”