I’ve always been a firm believer that each generation needs to be further along than the preceding one. In the present, an ideal situation includes the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom through experience, which can then be built upon. It’s because of this simple dynamic that we’ve been able to sustain our progression as a species, bolstered by the occasional groundbreaking discovery. However, this progress isn’t limited to the tangible feats of science or technology.
This understanding that each generation improves on the previous one is why we’ve continued to explore and embrace forward-thinking social concepts like gender equality, transgender equality, and LGBTQIA rights. Just as with any advancements to our civilization, we have to strengthen the educational system that links the past and the future to ensure these ideas outlive us and are part of future conversations.
I hold a belief that within creative culture, and more-so within youth culture, there’s a gap that exists between the old and the new. I could chalk it up to ageism that alienates the older generation or perhaps it’s that maturing generations intentionally distance themselves from the drastically different current generation. One thing that shouldn’t be discounted is the principle that the knowledge and experience acquired by those who have done it before is always valuable for a culture’s growth.
“Youth culture” is ostensibly exclusive in its name, but that’s not to say one cannot introduce value as they fall out of the target demographic. For many, a thinning hairline and a few wrinkles on the forehead might signal that a person’s time is up, but the reality is that they still have much to offer in the form of direction and, above all else, a mindset formed from adjusting course and solving big challenges. On the flipside, every incoming generation emerging into the scene is often left to their own devices to figure shit out.
I don’t disagree, there’s something beautiful in rolling up your sleeves to solve a problem with only the tools in your head, but I’ve also maintained that it’s a sub-optimal usage of time if the corresponding problem was solved generations ago and seemingly repeats itself at the onset of any emerging generation. There should be a sense of interest and excitement in helping shape the future of culture. Let’s face it. Young people never, EVER lack ideas.
They do lack the structure to make big ideas real. This is where mentorship becomes important. Rather than pushing away and denouncing anything that doesn’t fit with personal perceptions of what a 22-year-old you would do, mentors should embrace the youthful energy to create and help encapsulate that. Nobody is forcing experienced and wise creators to make themselves available, but for something that gave them so much, this is an open challenge to give back.