There’s a war raging in China. I recently heard from some of my students born in the 90’s that a generation war has erupted on the internet. Those born in the 90’s are in a pitched flame war with the kids born after the year 2000. This came as shock to me, and I was very confused after hearing about it. I went on to ask:
“But aren’t you the most creative, the most popular generation in China now?! Isn’t this the time when most of you are starting to work and getting ready to make a difference in China?! Why would you fight against a generation whose eldest soldier is just 14 years old?! “
“ They say we are an expired product on the market, old of age and still very traditional, therefore the world doesn’t belong to us, but to them. They are the mainstream, not us.”
The feeling of generational separation in the west isn’t that pronounced, so I couldn’t understand. Could the traditional generation classifications of China really be that accurate, or is it just another way for them to pigeonhole themselves? Every generation brings something new to the world, but those new ideas have to come after the ideas of the previous generation have been exhausted.
Regardless, the animosity continues. What exactly are these barely pubescent upstarts like?
For starters, there is a large disconnect between the two generations. Those born in the 90’s can’t seem to understand what the Aughts are talking about most of the time. I have been told that “Their ideas are strange.” Many of them started using tablet computers at age 3, and “fall in love” at age 7, and they are almost completely engrossed in foreign culture. The Aughts are so focused on foreign culture that they often forget about the Chinese culture. They are convinced that China can’t satisfy their demands, d rarely have China in mind when talking about their future. They often chide the 90’s kids about only exposing themselves to Korean and Japanese culture.
From the perspective Chinese born after 2000, the previous generations don’t love themselves enough, especially those born in the 90s. Unlike the previous generation, these kids refuse to Photoshop pictures of themselves; they see themselves as individuals, perfect. Though still quite young, they have a strong joie de vivre. Unlike previous generations they are more apt to pursue their dating interests, something that up until this point in China was relegated to sometime around college, when your parents said it was okay.
The post-2000 generation is quick to remind the 90’s generation that they are younger than them. Sometimes this practice becomes downright antagonistic. It isn’t unheard of for a teenager to address a 20-something as “Auntie” or even “Grandmother/Grandfather” in order to get a rise out of them. In turn the 90’s generation chide the younger generation for being insipid children.
In fact, both generations are still quite young and naive. They fail to recognize that each generation builds off the previous ones, and that by engaging in a generational flame war that they are being histrionic and blowing things out of proportion. It does seem though that every subsequent generation in China is trending more toward creative thinking and global mentality. This is something that I am glad to see, because it bodes well for China. Also, I think it is going to be very fun to watch the next round ten years from now when those born post 2010 begin to come of age and begin antagonizing the Aughts in the same manner that they tease the 90’s generation.