Adults don’t know what it’s like to be 17 years old

I saw a quote from Maisie Williams where she stated that adults don’t know what it’s like to be 17. It wasn’t until I read the comments on twitter that I felt to say something myself, but yeah. She’s totally right.

I’ll let you in on a secret, now: I’m not 17. I may not regard myself as much of an adult sometimes but I’m well into my 20s and I can fully admit I have no idea what it’s like to be a 17-year-old in the year 2015. I had a flip phone in high school. That says it all, doesn’t it? I’m part of a post-technology pre-digital-immersion generation. I had a cassette player, now I have an iPhone. But enough about that.1117291

Time is a beautiful and terrifying thing, and that’s the point I want to make here. As we get further and further from age 17 we recall less and less what it is like to be that age. And more to the point, the experiences of a 17-year-old now are drastically different than in the years before. Even what we recall is largely unhelpful in understanding the modern teenage experience. Yes, the hormones are still the same, maybe the teenage drama is all similar. But you’ve got to understand that those experiences are now intersected with the technology and connectivity of today. And that makes a world of difference.

Conversations like this are an uphill battle because older generations will never fully accept that they are the older generation. And we will be, too, one day (I’m already on my way, surely). We are the last generation that will have to teach our parents how to use email. Eventually, a counterculture will arise to subvert what we see as current counterculture. (Is the moment we stop jumping onto new counterculture the moment that we truly become adults? I wonder.)

I could go on for days on this subject, but instead I’ll leave you with this. When I was 17, I asked myself, “Why don’t these adults know what it’s like to be 17? They were this age once. Shouldn’t that mean they understand what I’m going through? Why do we keep having this disconnect?”

There will always be generational conflict. Discussions surrounding generations are boring and overwrought. The sooner that people can collectively accept that experiences of different age brackets all differ from one another (in both directions), the sooner we can start having more productive conversations.


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