There was an armed robbery at the mall about ten minutes’ walk from my parents’ house. (Not the reason I’m posting, really – not happy about it but Mom’s moving out TODAY!!) I found out about this from someone’s FB posting, in which she also comments, “This generation is a me generation and have no respect for authority. THere are no consequences to their actions.”

It just seems to me like ever since I graduated college and began being considered a “grownup” – and even before that – I’ve met a whole lot of extraordinary younger people. Some aren’t even that young any more – I first noticed this with a teenager who rowed, with his dad, in a men’s 8 I coxed way back in the early 90s. He grew up to be this guy, who spent years dotoring and playing saxophone in Botswana before coming back to teach other doctors about global health education. There’s a kid I used to babysit who grew up to be this guy. There’s a young cousin who just spent her gap year working in African orphanages. There are cousins, friends’ kids, coworkers’ and acquaintances’ kids, and now even some coworkers of my own young enough to be my son or daughter, internet acquaintances. They vary a lot; some are superstars, while others are just amazing people living their own lives – and sometimes changing the lives of people around them just by who they are. They are traveling, becoming activists, writing, pushing themselves to compete at high levels, learning about science, changing the minds of people around them, or overcoming harsh circumstances to come into their own selves. Sadly, in a few cases I learn about them when teachers or people working with kids post to say that one of their best got killed in random violence.

It’s also about the tech: Platforms like Kickstarter and Tumblr and the Internet in general are giving people a more visible platform to stand on. That works both ways: when you show your ass in public, everyone sees it, but on the flip sidewhen you raise money for a good cause, or to fund marketing of a new invention or a new art project or whatever, you’ve got a place to start and a way to make a real difference. That kid goofing off online might just be on Tumblr, or she might be getting taken advantage of by some creepy old man, but she also might be raising thousands of dollars to change the world.

I’m not a mindless Pollyanna; I know there are bad kids and young adults out there too. I know the majority of people from age thirty on down are just average, with good days and bad ones – much like people from thirty on up. But I’ve met and heard of so many amazing young people, anywhere from age 3 up to their 30s, that I really hate to hear the “kids these days” argument.

Of course the “kids these days” lament is a lot older than I am – it goes back to at least the ancient Romans and probably before. But it was wrong then too – so why haven’t adults these days learned better, any time in the past few thousand years?

I’m also cranky when people get pigeonholed by generation, because I think people born in the same 20 year span don’t necessarily have all that much in common, unless they also have other stuff in common like being born into the same place or culture. Yeah, OK, people my age who were in my school system had Free To Be You And Me played to us a lot, and we watched Scooby-Doo after school – but if we’d all internalized the message of tolerance in the one or of trusting young people in the other … well, I wouldn’t be seeing these rants about young people from the former kids I grew up with.