Opinion | You weren’t born in the wrong generation

By Aaron Anastos, Columnist

Humans never seem to like where they are.

The general character of 2023 can be described with terms like “uncertainty” and “anxiety.” Especially among younger people, 2023 isn’t seen as the most positive time to watch the future approach. 

With their economic futures up in the air and a front-row seat to a three-ring political circus, people of the new generation of young adults find themselves facing an ominous storm on the horizon.

This general fear, spurred by the major events of the past few years (that bear no repeating), often causes young people to see the past through rhetorical rose-colored glasses — the post-WWII and pre-Y2K Garden of Eden, when we knew who the bad guys were (Nazis) and we knew who to trust (MLK).

Americans back then didn’t think they were living through the “good old days.” They were too busy securing their rights to vote, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and sex and going about the day without worrying about a Panzer (or worse, a white-sheeted bigot crashing through their front window).

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The 20th century was a long, long hundred years, packed with more content and drama than the (reportedly) jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring season finale of The BachelorTo rope the 20th century into a tight, simple romantic story of the triumph of good over evil does a major discredit to those who toiled and suffered to ensure that democracy and civil rights lived on into the 21st century.

Sure, from a specific viewpoint, it may have been morally easier to storm the beaches of Normandy, but there’s a reason we acknowledge that day with solemn head-bowed respect, not streamers and confetti.

Scrolling through social media is something complicated in itself, and it’s impossible to be certain of the machination or agenda behind every piece of content one views. But as a 2023 college student, I’d rather have a moral conflict while laying on the couch than live through everything we now make star-studded and monumentalized feature films about.

Every generation has its woes. Humans will always make mistakes, and there’s nothing to show us that they’ll stop anytime soon.

But those of the current younger generation have something that other generations have possessed and either utilized or squandered, much to their long-lasting fates — hindsight. The mistakes of the past are easier to interpret than a Dr. Seuss cliff note. 

Navigating the political and social strife that envelops us in 2023 is treacherous. The typically-partisan audience of President Biden’s recent State of the Union Address presented a clear demonstration of where Americans stand divided. The worries of the past are harder to appreciate when the worries of the future remain in their heads so menacingly.

However, anxiety over what the future can do to us would be better spent on what we can do for the future.

To borrow from J.R.R. Tolkien, we cannot choose the age into which we are born, and no one wishes to be born into times of strife. We can only decide “what to do with the time that is given us.”


Aaron is a freshman in DGS.

[email protected]