The Generation Gap Isn’t What it Used to Be

The generation gap that separated me from my parents was defined by our views on music, sex, skirt lengths, the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s presidency. My whole goal in shopping was to buy things my parents hated. But my children and I like the same music, have similar politics and shop for clothes in the same stores. The issues that separate me from my offspring are of an entirely different nature.

Where has the generation gap gone?  Once defined by cultural touchstones and political splits, the gap that divides the generations is now far more subtle, defined by differences in outlook and attitude, rather than fundamental beliefs.

 

My sons think nothing of leaving the house and venturing out in public in their PJ bottoms. This has been a recurring nightmare of mine since 1971.

I use cash. They use credit for any purchase over 24 cents.

I pack in suitcases. They pack in the first vessel they can lay their hands on, plastic bag, gym bag, pillow case…whatever.

I worry about losing my wallet. They worry about losing their phones.

They believe the car when it says it has eight miles left before the tank is empty. I don’t even see numbers like that.

If I am meeting friends we will have sent emails, confirmed location and probably made a reservation if dinner is involved.  They will text their friends in the driveway and will alter their plans, change location at least twice before deciding on a destination.

I think established credibility is important. They belong to a generation that thinks market and crowd consensus is what matters.

I download apps and software that I need.  They download apps and software in order to find what they need.

I think good news can still come out of the mailbox. They think only junk resides there and never actually open it.

I think I have seen the movie when, in reality, I read the book. They think they read the book when, in reality, they watched the made-for-TV movie.

They think you cannot turn off a video game until it is over, I have no idea why.

They prefer to text, Facebook message, even email over dialing someone’s phone number to ask a question. I am getting like that, too.

They think “awkward” is the greatest social failing, a situation to be avoided at all costs. I feel the same way about “rude.”

Because of social media they still “know” everyone they have ever known. I look back and wish I could revisit moments with friends I lost track of decades ago.

Both The New York Times and Time despaired of our children this week, dismissing millennials as self-absorbed, lazy, narcissistic or as Time labeled them, “The Me, Me, Me Generation.”  But the Greatest Generation must have looked on in horror at the thought of ceding the world to the rebellious, profligate, never-experienced-hardship Boomers who wanted to reject every aspect of the social order while playing music at an ear-splitting decibel level.

As the leading edge of the millennials pass 30, I see a generation that is highly accepting of differences, comfortable with change at warp speed, values human relationships above all, despite being weaned on technology, and is innovative in the extreme.  I think we are good hands.

 

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