I had an interesting conversation with my parents over dinner the other day that started with a simple question … one that turned out to have a rather complicated answer. Generations are an odd way to mark time.

Especially since no one seems to be able to make up their minds. Since my parents are Baby Boomers, I should qualify as a member of Generation Y – but since I was born in 1999, the opinions are mixed and various sources have informed me that by virtue of age I’m either a member of Generation Z or a Millennial.

The former term just provokes questions about what, exactly, the people who classify these sorts of things are going to do when they run out of letters. The latter, however, has a long string of unfortunate connotations attached.

It’s not precisely a new thing to disparage the youngest generation as soon as they grow up enough to start complaining about the state of the world. There’s a quote that I’ve heard variously attributed to Cicero, Plato and an Assyrian clay tablet that reads, “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents and everyone is writing a book.”

Millennials are frequently derided and dismissed as lazy, entitled, obsessed with social media, and possessing a total lack of interest in any political or worldly affairs. I could go off on a rant about any one of these things and why they’re at the least unfairly biased and at most completely and blatantly untrue, but, fortunately, recent events handily contradict the last point. It’s rather impossible to miss the election buzz in the air, especially with the primaries kicking off. It’s equally difficult to miss the massive jump of one particular candidate from the polls to the primary results.

Did you know that as of this year, Millennials are the single largest voting group in the country? And that’s hardly getting into how any lack of mass media connections and influence is more than made up for on social networking sites. Personally speaking, I’ve seen maybe 10 total campaign commercials on TV, and none of them were memorable or even informative. Every time I go online, though, I find some new intelligence on various candidates, or a circulating petition, or a reminder to eligible voters to register for the primaries in their states, with links to the appropriate sites included.

The effectiveness of online campaigns in spreading awareness and motivating people to act is undeniable. This time last year, I’d never even heard the name Bernie Sanders, and neither had most of the other students in my grade. Now just bringing him up in class is enough to spark a discussion.

Times, as they always have and always will, are changing. The people who grow up in those times are bound to be different than the previous generation. That’s no reason to be rude.

And regardless of whether anyone manages to come up with a definitive answer for my generation, no matter what my label, there will always be people ready to aim complaints at it. Who knows, maybe some of them will even be true.

— Nina Collay is a junior at Thornton Academy who can frequently be found listening to music, reading, wrestling with a heavy cello case, or poking at the keyboard of an uncooperative laptop.

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