By Emily Stonehouse
Aging has been on my mind this week.
Perhaps it’s the upcoming Aging Together as Community conference slated for this coming weekend. Or maybe it’s the multiple events that happened the past few days; which were predominantly put on by folks who are retired.
There is a noticeable dichotomy in this community. The old and the young. And we hear all the time about how we need to be mindful of our demographic. How a large percentage of residents in this place we call home are above the age of 65 (or more).
This aging population is the core of so many conversations. They change the real estate market, the advertising audiences, the services available around us.
They’re also the number one reason we have events and experiences in this community. Now I am speaking from personal experience, but with the organizations I have become affiliated with over my time in this community, the vast majority of participants fall within their senior years.
They bring experience, knowledge, and insight to the table in ways that generations after them couldn’t dream of. At least not by themselves.
They also often hold onto a certain ‘this is the way it’s always been done’ mindset, which both strengthens the resiliency of the event, whilst putting up blockers to change. Ups and downs, highs and lows.
If we want these events to continue in the community, there is a need for other generations to get involved. And I am the first to say that the millennial gang should be putting their best feet forward on that dance floor.
But that pressure that’s put on so many millennials to keep communities afloat just isn’t fair.
It’s been noted that millennials are the generation who carry the most weight on their shoulders. They were the first (and only) generation to have a clear-cut memory of both a time before and after the internet and smartphones; making them particularly savvy to navigating the web, and the ins and outs of social media.
But this comes at a cost – the memory of a simpler time. It’s been noted that millennials spend approximately 85 per cent of their days scrolling on their phones. Ironically, some of the accounts that exist online are reminiscent of their childhood.
I personally just saw a video that was circulated and shared widely amongst my friends of an old computer dialing up; partnered with a whimsical “remember when…” melody that alluded to those times gone by. The time where the internet was a separate entity from our persons, our priorities, our presence.
There is so much weight put on the shoulder of these millennials to step up and take the lead on these local events and experiences that are run by our retired friends. But as millennials, we are birthed with guilt already laden in our souls. Born into a world we actively know is burning, a knowledge of conflict and shame that’s transpiring around us, and an embedded responsibility that it’s our job to make it all better.
And maybe we will. We can certainly try. But the passing of the torch from one generation to the next shouldn’t rely solely on the expectation placed upon each demographic. Perhaps it is time to really break down the generational dichotomies of this town, and focus more on celebrating all the folks who have the time, the energy, and the heart to make our community shine, instead of just the basics of age differences.
Because we all have something to offer, but it’s stronger when we do it together.