Trigger Warnings: Anxiety, bullying, abuse, fear, and Rarasaur darksiding.
Where I explain that my silence is not acquiescence. It’s faith.
In almost any pie chart, I’m a small piece of pie. It’s not just a matter of race or religion. It’s life choices, hobbies, beliefs and preferences. My favorite shows get cancelled. My favorite authors never make the best seller list. No one understands why I do the things I do.
With that lack of understanding, comes fear, and with that fear, comes bullying.
Now, through my youth, I was fortunate enough to have a fleet of bodyguards, cleverly disguised as brothers-with-muscles and sisters-who-shot daggers-with-their-eyes. I was never taunted directly, or punched in the face about my differences, but I felt the bullying nonetheless.
It’s the little things.
- It’s the Indian accent from the Simpsons.
- It’s the lack of Mexicans at Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s California high school.
- It’s entire sitcoms dedicated to mocking the nerd next door. Urkel loves the pretty girl– tee hee, it’s funny because genius inventors aren’t worthy of beautiful people.
- It’s going through 5 stages of online and written interviews, only to see the interviewer visibly blanch when he realizes that you’re a woman. You know his clipboard of programming-related interview questions didn’t include childbirth plans until he saw your heels, but you go with it.
- It’s the Daily Post putting out a prompt asking people what they think about a fundamental cornerstone of a thousands-year-old religion in the same tone that they would ask about tooth fairies. Something they would do never do to a large piece of pie, like Christianity. Can you imagine? A prompt titled “Like a Virgin” with the question being, “Mary said she was a virgin: Do you believe her?”
But hey, any reason to say Karma Chameleon right?
The truth is, though– despite the fact that I certainly notice– those things don’t bother me.
I stay silent, not because I agree, but because I have faith that people will find their way.
Anyone who is ready to understand my small slice of pie is welcome to explore. There’s a vast expanse of internet knowledge, and a bevy of experts who share their wisdom. Most people aren’t intending to be offensive, anyway– they simply don’t know any better. When they are faced with the truth of their hurtful actions or words, they usually have the good grace to explain that they didn’t mean to tease, or that they tease every group equally and will endeavor to make that more clear.
My groups are being represented by the best of our best, and anything I could add would just be a noisy complaint– my voice simply isn’t needed, so I stay silent most of the time.
Where my voice becomes needed to stop the coming war.
A few years ago, an upsetting trend started. The passive aggressive bullying of a particular small piece of pie morphed into normal bullying. There was name-calling, finger-pointing, and discrimination.
The worst part of it is— the world accepted it.
Time Magazine joined the fray with a cover article. Politicians on both ends of the spectrum agreed. Entire research studies funded by biased scientists and their poor accumulations of statistics came out of the woodwork to back this aggressive, war-mongering majority.
Because in America, this large slice of baby boomer pie holds all the money.
For those of my readers who are not from the USA, the baby boomers are a generation named because they were “boomed” when our troops came back from war. They are generally recognized as those born between 1946 and 1964, though generational borders are more like sand and less like brick walls. In other words, being a baby boomer is more of a mindset than an age.
I was born in 1984. Strictly speaking, I’m part of Generation Y, or a Millennial. But the Boomers have been calling me others names since the moment I was born.
I’m part of the “Peter Pan Generation”, because I’m not capable of growing up. I’m part of the “Entitlement Generation”, because I think things are owed to me. I’m part of the “Not-Yet Generation” because I don’t know my own mind and I’m stalling so that I can get out of doing anything. I’m part of the “Boomerang Generation” because it’s only a matter of time before I move in with my parents again, poor and dejected. I’m a “kidult”, a “twixter”, a waste of space and a drain on finances. I’m part of the “Coddled Generation”, the “Tethered Generation”, or “Generation Why?”
I bet you had no idea I was such a failure, but it’s the truth. Just ask these reputable sources.
But is Gen Y really underemployed by sheer force of the economy – or are they making a choice to work at companies that pay less but offer them that “freedom” they so desperately need? [...] Though this report says that this is a strong indicator of the underemployment issue in the U.S. today, it seems more like a strong indicator of a generation with an issue of entitlement and extreme laziness – despite the opportunities that await them.
- Forbes.com, Kelly Clay, August 2012
Everybody knows a few of them — full-grown men and women who still live with their parents, who dress and talk and party as they did in their teens, hopping from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere. Ten years ago, we might have called them Generation X, or slackers, but those labels don’t quite fit anymore. [...] They’re betwixt and between. You could call them twixters.
- Time Magazine, Lev Grossman, January 2005
The older three generations also take pride in their strong values or morals and in being “respectful,” terms that hardly any millennials in the survey used. “Millennials may be a self-confident generation,” the study concluded, “but they display little appetite for claims of moral superiority.”
- The Washington Post, April 2010
The rumor that my generation is so difficult to work with has actually made companies institute Generational training courses, to help the Boomers deal with the second-class citizens they are forced to endure.
It’s a wide-spread myth, full of offensive undercurrents. There are articles out there explaining the good things my generation has brought to the world, but that’s the wrong tactic.
After all, this type of abuse is bullying and hate-mongering– simple as that. These names and words aren’t funny. They’re intended to hurt the feelings of an entire people. A generation of your own children. It’s intended to seep into the social conscience and a create chasm between Americans.
You can’t fight that type of discriminatory mindset with logic.
No, anyone who uses these expressions is trying to start a war– confident that they are so much bigger that they would certainly win should their victim decide to fight back.
We’ll see about that.
Where I explain what put me into a tizzy today.
You might have noticed that this bullying has been going on for years. In the past, I’ve addressed it on a case-by-case basis, but have never before taken a platform stand. Today is different.
Today I’ve noticed that these names are starting to seep past the protective wall of my generation. We grew up with resentment and anger focused on us, and as such became quite resilient at listening without absorbing it. We built a protective force field from the hope that the bullying was a reflection of the bully, not of us.
But the wall is breaking, and for the first time in my life, these arrows are hitting their marks.
I received an email from a friend, unsure how to tell her parents that her boss tried to touch her inappropriately again and so she quit her job. She told her parents the first time– they didn’t take her seriously. I was there and the specific quote was, “Oh, your generation is always so dramatic!” She’s sick with worry, knowing that their response will be that she should have reported it and sued him for a million dollars. She doesn’t want to drag her name and life through that. She wants him to be fired, and in the meantime, for herself to find a position safe from those memories.
I read a few blogs this week with the same feeling. A young woman afraid to leave her husband who hit her because her parents think she should work through it. A man my age who was passed over for a promotion because his boss said, “I just assumed you’d be moving on soon. Your generation does, you know.”
There’s more examples every day. People my age questioning whether their past bosses and parents were correct– maybe their dreams are unreachable, maybe they should just work at the first place that will hire them and build a life around that. Maybe they should work through things that are hard, at the cost of their own self. Maybe they should aim for as much suffering as possible, and build a life based on anger and resentment.
Then they can pass it on to their kids, and call them names.
Do you see how this is not a solution, but a furthering of the problem?
To my generational friends: I know our generation is different from others, and I know we’re under attack– but we can deflect the arrows of hate, if we stick together and remind ourselves that our opinions are valid. Our world is much bigger than the one the Boomers lived in– and so, of course, our path is not the same. But it is still leading us to the future of our dreams. Don’t give up on us.
In the meantime, I’ll do my part to minimize the arrows coming our way.
Where I call you out, and make one last bid for peace.
My name is Rara. I’m 28 years old. I’ve been employed since I was 13 years old, the longest reign of unemployment being 1 month where I didn’t collect a dime of state, federal, or parental money. I’ve volunteered at food banks, hospitals, retirement homes, and orphanages. I am a responsible cat owner, who has rescued and found homes for many other pets. I don’t do drugs, of any sort, and I’ve never been fired.
I don’t know a single person my age who isn’t as capable.
You know us, too. We’re the ones holding your hands in the hospital when you give yourself a second heart attack eating the same meal that took you out the first time. We’re your daughters who come over to give you a shoulder to cry on when dad leaves. We’re the sons who pick up our little brothers and sisters so you can go on your dream cruise, or work late at your job. We’re the ones who pay for our own grandparent’s funerals because no one else planned for it. We’re the ones you kicked out of your house, and then invited back when you needed someone to pay rent.
Those are all true stories, each example one I’ve heard many times from my friends who have asked me for emotional and financial support, so that they could be strong enough to lend those things to you. You might not hear those stories from us. To us, family is our first job. We’re not blaming you for being you.
This is just life.
Do we sound irresponsible and entitled to you?
There’s still time for this aggression to cease, and for us to find peace with each other. Here are 5 things you can do to stop the abuse:
- Stop saying hurtful things. Name calling solves nothing.
- Correct your friends when they say hurtful things.
- Stand up for your fellow human. Especially the ones that should be able to count on you for support.
- Look down on media that promotes this civil war. Shame on them.
- Think hard before believing in or passing on any broad generalization, or blame.
I don’t want to choose between my small slice and your larger slice– we’re all delicious pie. But if forced to– defend, I will.
Mine is a multifaceted generation. You’ve seen the side that takes the hits, but there is a side that can throw them, too. So, if you must start this war, at least leave the kids alone– and take on someone your own size.
Go ahead, call me a failure to my face.