Our society faces differences between generations that are a part of life that no one seems to accept or acknowledge. I work a lot with children under 4 years old and I can see how the world they are growing into is different from the one I experienced at their same age. What's more, I find that while talking with older generations can provide insight and realization, it also highlights differences between generations that I can't ignore. These are a few of the things I have observed over the years.
1. Social Media
I went to interview for a babysitting job the other day and wasn't surprised to hear the parents talk about making sure their daughter didn't spend her whole time on the computer. But they did point out that they let her stay on for a decent amount of time because they realize that social media plays a larger role in today's culture than it did when they were growing up. I found it interesting and inspiring to hear the parents’ realization of this difference between generations. Social media plays a big role, whether you want to admit it or not. Throughout high school, my parents would always tell me to get off the computer, believing that I "wasted" so much time on it. Sure I spent my fair share on Tumblr, Facebook and other sites, but I wasn't the only one. It’s a part of the younger generation.
Every generation uses a way to express itself that the older one can't stand. My grandmom was talking to me the other day about my two tattoos. She said that she can't stand them and that teens are getting tattoos because it's the latest fashion. I tried to highlight that it wasn't just a fad but the way my generation looks to express itself. In the 1920s, the flappers shocked their parents with short hair, knee-length dresses and a lifestyle that seemed reckless. You might not necessarily agree with their expression but I think it's important to recognize that it's a part of life.
I went to go see the midnight release of all the Harry Potter movies I was old enough to go to. When the 8th installment was added, that is the 2nd part of the 7th book, I was shocked to bump into a priest from my parish there. He was between late 70s and early 80s in age; yet, he was awake with all of us Harry Potter fans at the theater to see the midnight release. When I asked him why he came, he simply said, “I knew it was a big part of your generation, and I wanted to experience it with you.” There aren’t many people who can come to this form of understanding of generation gaps in trends, such as the hype with the midnight release. Trends will change over time but we miss out on so much by not sharing those experiences together.
Where do your rights end and mine begin? Humanity’s history hasn’t been kind to “the other.” When we label someone as different, they begin to get ostracized, potentially harassed or killed. Take the years of male dominance over women or white privilege over non-Caucasians. Progress was made as interracial couples began to marry, although they did face difficulty getting there. Yet with the recent legalizations of same-sex marriage, many people are shocked and pushing their beliefs of marriage between a man and a women down others' throats. I’m not saying you need to be pro or con in regards to the issue of same-sex marriage. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t freak out when someone tries to support their rights, even if it puts you in an awkward position. It’s been a part of life for centuries now.
5. Our Parents Are People Too
It’s a common theme to believe that our parents cannot relate at all to what we are experiencing. Sure, it may have been under different circumstances, but that doesn’t mean they can’t offer some advice. And what’s more, they are people too, people who need to cry and be cared for. I notice that this gap between generations is raw and rough to be touched, but without addressing, it will never get better.
Classwork is never easy, regardless of the century. But I think it’s important to realize the shift in the pressure put on education. Students in high school are highly suggested to enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) classes or upper level courses, even if they aren’t that great in the subject. A few girls in my senior year of high school were taking 6 APs, barely giving them enough time to absorb the info in each one. I think it’s important for older generations to realize the amount of pressure has intensified. You used to be able to do okay in high school and go to college, but now, it’s as if that one bad grade you got could stop you from going to your dream school. The documentary “The Race to Nowhere” addresses the pressure students face today and shows its shocking aftermath.
7. Cultural Changes
With the rush of the millennial, cultural changes began to filter in before taking over society. The concept of “emails” was introduced to the public in the mid-1990s and in 2014, they are definitely nothing new. One challenge we face as a society is that our world is rapidly changing. Younger generations were born and raised in this culture of always waiting for the next greatest thing, which was never more than a few months away. It doesn’t make them greedy or self-centered necessarily; rather, it is a sign that they were raised in a different culture than the older generations.
Although there are many differences between generations, there are similarities that strengthen the intergenerational relationship. These generational differences are what I have seen over the years. Which of these points stood out to you? Do you see any other differences between generations that are challenging to accept?