Saturday, April 01, 2006

Is there a generation gap anymore? Should we care?

Has the generation gap slimmed to a chink? Is it even there anymore? When we 40-year-old Generation X'ers continue to wear jeans and hoodies and listen to the same music as our children (or nieces and nephews), are we refusing to grow old gracefully, or are we, as this article in New York magazine attests, merely refusing to do anything except those things for which we feel passionate? Or is it really that because of the democratization of information through the Web and 24-hour news and television, all generations are more or less feeding from the same trough, culturally?

As a 40-year-0ld with a 20 year old inside me wondering what happened, I really found this article interesting. At 40 my mom had six kids and was wearing polyester pantsuits. Now, "40 is the new 30." Are we X'ers following the dreaded Boomers into that Peter Pan Neverland where you never grow old, even though they all hoped they'd die before then?

God, I hope not. Boomers are a pain in the ass. If that's the way the X'ers are headed, hand me the apron and pass the Bobby Vinton.



At 9:35 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

This article really hits it on the head -- people aren't growing up anymore. I don't feel like a grownup and yet, I am a parent. I didn't do this consciously, I am just being myself.

This article made me think of my mom. She hated the whole concept of the generation gap. She said it didn't exist when she was growing up. She enjoyed the same music her parents did and they liked to go to the same places. My father and his father-in-law went interviewing for jobs together and then would hang out in bar afterward to see the game. She said people enjoyed the company of their parents and other relatives and included them in what they did.
Maybe Mom was right and the whole Boomer concept of the GAP was phony. She thought that people made it up so that kids wouldn't like their parents. I suspect it may have developed out of the college experience. A lot of boomers were the first in their families to go to college. Those four years, could make a big difference.
Where once status was defined by education and employment -- now things have flattened. Today's parents aren't as intimidated by a cultural divide, because they bridged it themselves. Where once being a college grad meant a social step beyond the parent, it is now the norm.
I don't know about my theory here, but I am glad that the gap may be gone. I love being what I am, I hope my kid and I can speak the same language for years to come. As far as the boomers, I don't think it's the peter pan thing that bugs me, but the superior or self-important attitude they have about doing everything. After all, as the commercial says "they invented the generation gap".

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Isabell said...

That's a really interesting take on it. In that sense, the generation gap was really quite detrimental. Maybe it was needed because there was so much change between one generation and their offspring. The generation gap was really the result of re-defining the world. Now that it's changed a bit, that "gap" is not as evident, nor is it needed.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

This NYT article is also referenced in Future Wire, a technology trends blog.

Here's their take away: "Management gurus such as Tom Peters have been talking up grup values for years: passion and the need to have fun and make a difference rather than just make money. Now, it may be more than just talk. Businesses that recognize grups as both employees and consumers in a different mold will have an edge over those that don't."


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