We have all heard the term “generation gap,” but what exactly does it mean to us? How do we apply what we know about the gap to help us relate to people across what, at times, feels more like the Grand Canyon than a gap?
The gap arises between our generation and our parents’, our parents’ generation and the generation before them, and even between our generation and our grandparents’.
It comes from the societal changes that develop with time, and the population’s will to accept or alter reality to make life easier or better. It is dependent on all aspects of society: media, entertainment, region, race and religion, just to name a few.
Reality is subjective, right? It is different for every individual. For instance, I have a different reality than the person sitting next to me because we don’t share all the same experiences or opinions. We weren’t raised the same way and didn’t make the same decisions along the way.
We can group these different “realities” together based on demographics like race, religion, sexual orientation, region, and the one we will focus on here, age.
The gap became more prominent in the 1960s when the younger generation realized it could voice its opinion against government policies it didn’t agree with.
The first thing that comes to my mind is the anti-war protests against the Vietnam War.
While the generation was busy making its mark on society, the preceeding generation was skeptical, and possibly shocked at the sudden shift in influence they had never experienced before.
As there was undoubtedly a certain degree of crossover between the generations, this is where the generation gap became more prominent.
Remember those groups that separate individual realities? Today, those things that separate us are beginning to fuse together to make us one, more united generation with an awareness of different realities.
There will always be differing opinions, but our realities are getting closer together due to exposure to things outside what each of us define as our own “reality.”
The next trick is tackling the generation gap that seems to keep growing.
It all begins with a simple concept that most high schools try to teach their students before they graduate: critical thinking, or understanding both sides of an issue. Back in high school, my AP English class focused on argument. My teacher would give the students in my class different viewpoints, and make us argue that viewpoint whether we believed in it or not.
It forced us to conceive a different way of understanding reality. It helped us develop skepticism, which some people can argue is a beneficial quality to have.
We can apply this concept to the generation gap. All the things that affect a society should be explored in order to understand the generation before us…or the generation that comes after us.