I work at a university and live in a college town. This gives me regular exposure to youth culture (ages 18-25), and across recent years I've noticed a steadily growing fixation on "trauma" and PTSD, reflecting a wider emphasis on these issues among progressive and activist circles. It is now common to see a young person, maybe still a teenager, deliver agitated lectures about "trauma" to older people in their life. Listening to these lectures, you would think there is a new epidemic of adolescent trauma that older generations never experienced and can't imagine.
The trend is punctuated by stories like this one, about how a quarter of college students "experienced symptoms of trauma" in reaction to the 2016 election: College students experienced trauma symptoms after Trump's election, study says
The election of Donald Trump was psychologically traumatic for some, according to a new study that found that 1 out of 4 students surveyed experienced clinically significant event-related distress short term.
In reaction to this, there was a predictable wave of retorts discounting students' reports of trauma, calling students "snowflakes," etc. Some argued that by using the word "trauma" to refer to political disappointment is an insult to people who have experienced "real trauma". But we can't so easily discount the occurrence of "clinically significant event-related distress", since those symptoms can occur for totally individual reasons. A therapist or psychiatrist would respond to the reported symptoms, and would not judge whether the person "ought to have" those symptoms. There is no "real trauma" except what is defined by an individual's own reactions and symptoms.
So, to the young people, I say this: I won't dispute that your generation experiences a lot of trauma. But when you are gearing up to shout about it to an older person, pause and consider that they have accumulated much more life than you have, and trauma only accumulates with age. The older you are, the more trauma you are likely to have seen: PTSD Among Aging Adults - SeniorLiving.org
Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, can happen to people of all ages. It is especially a common issue among aging adults because they have a more likely chance to have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime...
Roughly 70-90% of adults who are 65 and older have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.
While trauma accumulates with age, people at different ages are not equally sensitive to it. It's an important fact that adolescents are especially sensitive. But the peak of clinical symptoms may occur at older ages: Risk for PTSD Varies by Gender, Age
Danish researchers discovered men are most vulnerable to PTSD between the ages of 41 and 45 years, while women are most vulnerable at ages 51 to 55... According to [study author] Elklit, "People now live for an increased number of years compared to that of previous generations, and as a result individuals have more years in which they can be affected by the negative consequences that can follow traumatic experiences. It is therefore important to pay attention to the risk of PTSD in relation to different stages in the lifespan."
In my own anecdotal experience, the targets of heated trauma lectures tend to be in this age range, 41 to 55. The young lecturer may imagine that the older person is ignorant about trauma and needs to be "educated" about it. But please consider that the older person may have a great deal of hidden experience on the subject, they may have their own sensitivities that they don't want to discuss with you, they may have accepted trauma as a part of life, and they might have meaningful insights on how to manage your personal trauma and still be a functional member of society.