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The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

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On Generational Bias

Age-based biases have been prevalent for millennia, but social media has accelerated its spread to unprecedented levels.
image by Ryan Sarapa

A phenomenon that has found relevance in recent times due to the argumentative nature of social media is generational bias. Countless posts and judgmental comments on social media platforms have widened the gap between age groups. This sort of mistreatment of another individual based solely on the fact that they are a part of another age group is referred to as generational bias. It can take many forms– representing itself in even normal conversations.

A parent may claim to their kid that their generation grew up the right way and that modern technology is ruining the joy of childhood. The claim that “we did it better than them” is not unique to current times, only more noticeable through the constant barrage of content criticizing other generations. This prejudice has spread to numerous online platforms, garnering even more attention. The mingling of different age groups in the same environment is bound to cause some dispute over who’s to blame for what. 

An activity or field that is not in some way affected by generational bias is hard to come by. The workplace is a perfect example of this. No matter the job, generational bias can seep in somehow. 

Taking a look at the outcome of diversity is the perfect place to start. In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, workplaces are becoming more diverse than ever, bringing together individuals from different backgrounds, skills, and age groups. While this diversity can be a source of strength, it also brings forth the challenge of generational bias. Preconceived notions, stereotypes, or prejudices individuals may hold based on the age group to which someone else belongs are all contributors to this issue. Commonly, this bias is observed among different generations such as Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. These biases can manifest in various ways, from assumptions about work habits and technological proficiency to attitudes about commitment and loyalty.

One prime example is the outlook some Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have on millennials. This issue was touched on in a Harvard Business Review article: “Report after report emphasized how much Baby Boomers and Gen Xers needed to change to accommodate this new generation of lazy, entitled, and disloyal workers and how these young folks would disrupt the workplace as we knew it.”

These biases can manifest in various ways, from assumptions about work habits and technological proficiency to attitudes about commitment and loyalty.

In this instance, there are claims about a newer generation of employees being inadequate, resulting in a generalization from older generations that they have a poor work ethic. These kinds of generalizations lead to a further divide among generations, contributing to an ever-growing bias.

In more recent years, social media has become the perfect spot for generational bias to shine through. Countless memes, advertisements, and social media accounts that put down other generations are quite prominent on most platforms. A common point these kinds of statements try to make is that other generations are incompetent in some way. This can be conveyed in several ways, but among the most common are the nitpicking of political viewpoints and claiming others to be out of touch. A recent and clear example of this is the opposition older generations are claimed to have towards “wokeness” and the accompanying effects of this supposed opposition. Another current instance of one generation claiming another to be incompetent is the portrayal of older people in advertisements. Often, the exaggerated stereotypes about older people that ads push do nothing more than cause further generational separation.

Of course, these kinds of issues and disputes are not exclusive to this scenario, but when all-encompassing generalizations are made about certain age groups, content depicting them in a certain way becomes more widespread. An instance of this that became hugely popular on TikTok during the pandemic was the use of the phrase “Ok, Boomer.” In an article from the National Library of Medicine, the uses for the phrase are explained: “Similarly, the emergence of the expression “Ok, Boomer” suggests that the label has become a pejorative used to denounce values and beliefs seen as stymying progressive ideas.” 

The use of generational names contributes to bias greatly. With unnecessary labels come unnecessary issues. The grouping together of people based on nothing more than their age and the perpetuation of stereotypes based on that categorization contribute to an abundance of unneeded hatred. In a Washington Post article, Phillip N. Cohen explains, “Recently, there have been calls by social scientists to retire the use of generational labels. While analytically convenient, generational labels are set on arbitrarily drawn boundaries.”

Time and time again, generational bias makes itself known through many means, whether that be through a conversation with a relative, an argument on social media, or disagreements in the workplace. No matter what, it will live on in some way, as it has existed since the creation of generations and stays frequently apparent today, proving we just can not get enough of claiming “our way is better.”

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About the Contributor
Ryan Sarapa
Ryan Sarapa, Staff Writer
Ryan Sarapa is a junior at North Allegheny Senior High. He enjoys listening to and making music. He hopes to create meaningful and engaging articles for the uproar website.

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