Every generation despairs of the one that follows. They do not like the same kind of clothes, their political views are polar opposites or non-existent, and even their music tastes are unusual, with beats from the 80s and 90s getting so much air time that a time-traveller from the early nineties might be forgiven for thinking that something has gone wrong with their time machine! There is often a moment when you realise that you are no longer relevant to today's youth, and most of us are happy to accept this. But if your career relies on you staying up-to-date with the latest innovations and trends, it can be a minefield: working out what is big right now, without being 'cringe'.
Don’t be Embarrasing
Trying too hard to fit in is a sure-fire way to lose the engagement that you are trying so hard to achieve. Accept that you are not the same age as the people that you are engaging with, and play to your own strengths, rather than trying to pretend to be something that you are not. Young people today tend to be more tolerant and open to interacting with people from different groups than other generations – who were raised to fit into fairly insular cliques from their first interactions at junior school: sporty kids were 'jocks', pretty girls were 'cheerleaders', clever children were the 'nerds' and everyone else found a place to belong and clung there, never daring to set foot outside of the accepted mores of the group – and will happily explore different activities and ideas, even if they do not have any real interest in it. For example, someone who excels at chess and has a slender physique, might very happily discuss a rugby game, accepting that he or she is neither built for the game, nor has any interest in playing – but this will in no way inhibit their interest in the game, nor their enjoyment of watching it and supporting their friends' endeavours.
Therefore, speak genuinely of the things that interest you, and make sure that you do not speak down to people, no matter whether they are in high school, college or university: no one likes to be patronised. Your passion will make the topic interesting, and people cannot help but respond to enthusiasm, even about things that are not really relevant to their lives.
How to be Relevant in 2019
The best way to stay in touch with modern life is to be connected on several platforms. It is impossible to keep up with everything that is going on in the world, or even in your own town: there is a constant data-stream flowing all over the globe all the time and one person simply cannot keep up with all of it. Instead, curate your news from four or five reputable sources, preferably those that send a daily summary from which you can pick and choose the ones to look into more closely.
Also set up social media accounts, picking a couple from each of those aimed at keeping and making connections, such as Facebook, Twitter, even LinkedIn for the more business minded, and those that are more light-hearted and just for fun: Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. Facebook is great for staying in touch with a lot of people simultaneously, setting up and promoting events, Twitter thrives on lively discussion and debate, while LinkedIn will keep you up-to-date with the doings of your chosen industry as well as being a great place to look for contacts, suppliers and even a new job. Instagram is primarily a picture sharing site, with users uploading images, often with short, catchy tags on them. Instagram can be problematic as it encourages the use of filters and photo-editing software which allows users to make their lives seem perfect. This in turn can engender feelings of being left behind or not being 'good enough' in those users who cannot see behind the deception to the, much more realistic, truth. But it does have its good features too: it is quick and easy to share good news and beautiful images, and 'influencers' (users with many followers who can make or break a café or event with just one positive or negative review) can be a force for change when they are so inclined. Snapchat's main boast is that images shared on the platform are not saved, being deleted within – for example – half an hour after being viewed by the person it was shared with. This means that embarrassing moments do not linger on multiple devices, causing humiliation for longer than a few hours – reassuring to those who sometimes behave foolishly! Snapchat is designed to be fun and fast, with a whole range of meaning imbued into emojis and textspeak that can seem like gibberish to the unenlightened. YouTube is, of course, the premier video sharing site, but it is also something of a community platform with much more capability than simply sharing a video and monitoring the comments thereon.
It is a relatively simple matter to engage with today's youth: all it takes is a good social presence, online or in real life, and an open mind ready to discuss the perspectives of others.