It is an oft-repeated word – generation gap. When we find we are unable to get through to the next generation or decipher their behaviour, we rely on this word. It helps to put a whole lot of unexplainable stuff under the gambit of the generation gap. So, what is the generation gap? Have we ever tried to decode it? Will it help in any way if we decode it to bring about better relationships and overall life?
The older gap
The generation gap is not necessarily only in the age between the older and the current generation. It is also in thinking, attitude, approach to life, and many other aspects. Most often, it is just that the two sides are just not able to see things in the same way. At times, it is also the ego getting in the way of not wanting to see things from the other’s perspective. Sometimes, it is also a matter of the older generation not being able to trust the younger ones.
It could also be the inability to let go and allow them to make their mistakes to learn their life lessons. The older generation feels they are old and experienced, have seen more life. The natural conclusion is ‘we know, we have seen and experienced, so we don’t want you to make the same mistakes. Also, there are many things that they are not used to from tattoos, live-ins, same-sex relationships, to not wanting to take up conventional jobs that can cause minor to serious issues.
Another issue that can cause rifts is the constant comparison to their times which the older generation does. Things have changed, times have changed and many things cannot be done as they were earlier. Besides, when the older generation tries to impose their likes and dislikes on the younger ones, or try to make them out to what they could not, etc., issues crop up. I wanted to be a doctor, but I could not, hence you become one. Such things no longer work out.
Sometimes, a total lack of communication can also cause a generation gap. When people are too busy with their lives, they rarely get time to sit and talk and understand each other. So, assumptions and perceptions come into play and create a generation gap. Also, with the advent of technology, GenZ is more into devices than people and Covid forced them to be more so. Everything went online and so did relationships.
One would have thought that when lockdown happened, people got to spend more time with each other and that might have helped. However, an Indian survey says that the Covid times have only increased the generation gap. According to this study published in some national newspapers, 75.8 percent of the elderly thought the generation gap has increased in the past two years. One of the many reasons for this was the social distancing in families that were distant with the older generation staying separately. They were not that tech-savvy either and hence, the communication almost fully broke down, perhaps.
The younger gap
From the younger side, it could be a simple lack of understanding, patience, etc. They may feel a bit irritated at the older generation trying to curb their freedom, control their life, lecturing at every opportunity, and so on. They may also expect their parents to show an inclination to be more tech-savvy or at times, be more open about things, etc. When all these issues come into the picture, it becomes a generation gap. A gap between the two generations that could easily be bridged with some middle ground.
It is but natural that every generation cultivates a certain ethos and prefers to live with it. The current generation is also doing that. With advances on all fronts, it is natural that their thinking is more evolved and open. Whether music or fashion, career or marriage, the younger generation believes that they have the right to make their choices. It is when this is conflicted that the generation gap widens with every decision they make. One only has to look at the example of how society is more open and acceptable about love marriage to understand how the generation gap bridging is inevitable.
The best part is that the generation gap is only as much as we allow it to be! So, it is in our hands to overcome it. In the next article, we shall explore ways to bridge this gap.