by Yash Vardhan Rajoria, BFIA’24
Have you ever had the feeling that people older than you are hard to understand? Or, have you felt like people from younger generations just do not get it? Maybe you find it easier to connect with people who are closer to your age than those who are older or younger than you. This is generally due to the generation gap, or you just do not know how to talk to people.
We all have heard stories, stories from back when the previous generations used to cross rivers, and jungles to get education, back when buying milk was an hour of commuting adventure, and letters took weeks to be delivered (no wonder why parents love WhatsApp). Among all the stories, one common theme is having to wait for things. Not by choice but by the design of a world where they had to wait.
Whereas we(Gen-Z) have had a very different experience. Living a life in the ocean of the internet. Everything that you need or want, is available when you want it!
You want a book? Click!
You want clothes? Click!
You want the latest movies? Click!
You want food? Click!
You want love? Swipe right!
Everything, available at the speed of thought, is delivered to your doorstep!
We waited for the different things. And this small difference makes all the difference.
We are growing up as a generation that is not trained to wait. We want, rightfully so, everything instantly. And this demand for instantaneous supply is not limited to things, it is extended to feelings and emotions.
The generation gap is not limited to the gap between millennials and gen-z.
There are currently six living generations: Greatest Generation, Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. Each generation has its own unique set of characteristics and norms. For example, the Greatest Generation (born 1901-1924) is known for their patriotism, work ethic, and loyalty to institutions. The Millennials (born 1980-2000) are characterized by their dependence on technology, detachment from traditional institutions, optimism, and open-mindedness. It is, then, no wonder that many people from different generations have a hard time understanding each other. As all these generations are coming on board, the problem now is not bounded by the walls of our house.
With this comes a set of advantages and disadvantages. It is good because it enables people belonging to different generations to look at the same thing from different perspectives. It also cultivates within people, an attitude of assimilation and tolerance. What is even more important is the fact that it opens up arenas of new ideas and thoughts for people. It also helps people experience and learn new things and technologies, as a result they might benefit in the long run getting different experiences and giving them a taste of what they were missing. However, people need to learn to let go, and should have a keen eye, ear, and thought to the problems and understandings of the younger generation.
The other side of the generation gap may turn out to be bad when people refuse to listen to the other generation or reject their ideas completely. This may result in bad and broken relationships. But, even though there may be seemingly great ideological conflicts between different generations, overcoming them and bridging the generation gap is possible. The only thing people need to do is to open up their minds and accept new things with an open heart. Of course, filtering the good and the bad is always vital, but it depends on the social setup of a particular era. The basic key is ‘change’, which needs to be incorporated in life. The generation gap is the reason why we’re seeing young entrepreneurs and late marriages followed by early divorces.
The generation gap seems to have widened in this fast paced world, but there is no gap that can not be bridged with shared effort:
- Encouraging multi-generational team working:
The best way to get people to accept each other’s differences is to get them to work together. Helping your mom in cutting the veggies and watching “To all the boys I’ve loved before” doesn’t sound harmful, or does it? Just hide all the footwear before doing that. This way or the other eventually you will also learn to cut vegetables and not people out of your life.
- Establishing clear cultural values:
You should be clear about what you’re looking for. Your dad might like Sachin and you might like Kohli. The conflict is easily resolved by setting the right context – in this case, that it is the output and the goal that matter, to make India win.
- Embedding technology that drives collaboration:
All generations want to feel accepted and valued at work as part of a cohesive society. Collaboration is at the root of this – yet this can be challenging in today’s life. Make sure next time your dad is holding the camera right in front of his chin to take a selfie, do the effort and teach him the right way, it does not matter how many times it takes. Interact regularly with people like this.
- Communicating at all levels:
Another commonality across all ages of people is that they each need and value communication. Particularly in the digital age. Yes, my friend, when your grandfather is telling you his childhood stories he was just communicating about what he felt. Where new technology and transformation are the norms, it is essential to ensure that you communicate as much as you can so that this generation gap does not convert into a communication gap.
Bridging the generational gap is about many things other than what makes us different. It is about being open to learning and understanding why these differences exist. It is about changing the mindset for which we were traditionally taught to accept this gap and continue our life with this. We need to acknowledge how this gap affects us and improve ourselves, not just to live with it but rather to bridge the gap. This needs to be done to ensure that the upcoming generations do not neglect the existence of previous ones.