May 26, 2022

We all face problems - It’s not a competition about who is dealing with the worst

"You young people have no right to talk about problems", "At your age we didn't have all the comforts you have today", "We didn't have electricity, TV and mobile phones when we were 20"

Really, who has not been a witness to these perceptions at least once? Who has not been in a debate involving two and three generations, with the eldest one always trying to convince us through unsubstantiated arguments that their way of life was worse, harder and at the same time simpler than that of the younger generation?

To begin with, let us all ask ourselves: Are the arguments of our parents and grandparents, who support that they have been through hell, reasonable? Or are they trying to present the current problems of young people as less important than their own, in an attempt to make their entire generation feel superior?

In order not to blame them completely and be absolute, we must admit that our grandparents' generation lived through two wars, World War II and the Civil War, the seven years of the Junta dictatorship, as well as the conscription of 1974. Situations that fortunately we have not experienced...(yet?)...

But does the above justify the attitude of our grandparents and parents towards the problems of today's teenagers and young adults? Of course, the war cannot be compared to any other event, but isn't it somehow absurd that they constantly invoke it to describe their lives, thinking that today's young people have no problems?

The only ones who could be more justified are our grandparents, given that, as I mentioned above, they have faced more than a few unpleasant events in the course of their lives. Our parents, however, the people who were born mostly in the 60s and 70s, are somehow inexcusable and cannot compare their problems with ours, even claiming that theirs were of greater importance.

Because in reality their problems were small and of little importance. The fact that they didn't have TV and mobile phones until a certain age cannot be considered as a problem and does not describe a worse lifestyle than today's youth, as both were discovered later as technology advanced.

The vast majority of people in this generation were not facing financial problems when they were in their 15s, 20s and 30s. At that time, the country's economic situation was at its best and was increasingly booming. There was no family that could not get a loan from the bank, there was almost no family that did not own a house, there were many families that had two cars and going on a summer holiday went without saying. Every Sunday people would go out and a freshly married couple would hardly worry about their future: They had their own savings, which combined with the financial help of their parents and a mortgage loan - so easily given - from the bank made the stress rate zero.

Did people of this generation have to deal, when they were young, with a decade-long financial crisis and the problems it caused? No. Did they have to deal with stress and difficulties as their professional future, their professional development became uncertain? No. Among other things, they did not have to deal with the economic, social and psychological aftermath of a pandemic at a young age, unlike today's young people, who ceased to be young and simply shut themselves up in their homes for two whole years. And finally they didn't have to deal with the huge inflation and the price-gouging that have been taking place lately. They are dealing with these problems today as adults.

Therefore, it is somewhat absurd that we keep getting caught up in comparing between generations, with one generation trying to be seen as superior to the other. Each generation has its own problems to deal with and is likely to have fewer comforts than the next generation, since people and technology evolve. As today's youth face greater problems than the generations of the 1960s and 1970s, the generation after us may face more problems in their youth than we did, but also enjoy greater comforts.

Photography by the Photography Team of TEDxAUTH 2022

Pavlos Pavlidis

He studies Greek Philology in AUTH. He loves traveling, geography and history, while last year he expanded his interests in arthrography. His participation in TEDxAUTH is the stimulus to meet new people and exchange ideas, while writing articles for various crucial and non-crucial matters.

Foteini Patinari (she/her)

Raised between Thessaloniki and Nuremberg, she loves exploring different worlds and words, so inevitably fell in love with translation. She likes to learn new things and is convinced that travelling, and reading are the best ways to do so. A walk with her dog, a great book and a yummy chocolate is what she needs, when she feels lost (in translation). A control freak at heart, she finally starts to embrace the chaos of life and enjoy it, singing “getting away with it -all messed up- that’s the living”…

Anastasia Tolmaidou (she/her)

Born in Thessaloniki in the middle of summer. She is supposedly studying law but mostly she is spending her time planning trips that will probably never happen and searching for the cheapest plane tickets options. She loves keeping up with series that last multiple seasons and is watching The Office any chance she gets. The only reason for her to wake up early in the morning is to attend a horse-riding class or to catch a flight.

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