Defined by dictionary.com, a “Generation gap” is a lack of communication between one generation and another, especially between young people and their parents brought about by differences of tastes, values, outlook, etc. (Dictionary.com Unabridged, n.d.). The Generation gap can result in conflicts between young and old people, however, how does one really know what old is and what young is? For the purpose of this article, old refers to anyone above the age of 40 and young refers to anyone under the age of 25.
For a teenager (someone in between 12-19) a typical day in the 1970s involved going to school, doing homework, watching TV. and going out with friends to a concert/movie. This routine may sound similar to several of us in the 21st century, however, we have a completely different lifestyle. Advances in the fields of communication have allowed us to message our friends across the world in less than a minute. The internet has granted us the possibility to find information about anything within two minutes. Most importantly, and maybe most significantly, Society is now changing at an even more rapid pace than in the 18th century during the time of industrialization. Our entire structure of society is being rebuilt, making it significantly different than in the 1970s.
Communication has been simplified in numerous manners since 1970. If you lived in Nebraska in the 1970s and you wanted to send a “hello” to your friend living in Taiwan you would have to wait at least a month before the letter would arrive there. In the 21st century we can perform the same task in under less than a minute with the aid of Facebook or e-mail. Facebook, with its system of instant messaging, allows us to do this because of the technological advances made by scientists since the 1970s. Communication with political leaders/important figures has also been simplified. In order to get any information on these individuals you would have to rely on word of mouth or the newspaper. Now, we have Twitter which allows individuals to post a message, less than 160 characters, for everyone to read where we can know what they’re doing, where they are and how they’re feeling. Communication has become so fast that we get angry if our message takes more than a minute to get replied to. This could however have a positive or negative on the social structure. In December 2010, with the aid of social media a wave of pro-democratic movements erupted across the Middle East against oppressive leaders. This occurred because people had the access to information.
If you heard something about a dictator leading a country in 1970s who continued to violate international law and you wanted to learn more about him, you would have to rely on your local library to access information on him. The success of this daunting task relied heavily on the availability of information your local library had to offer. Your efforts would often times not yield the answers you hoped for. This could also take up a good chunk of your day. In the 21st century, we can access information about this dictator and not only learn his foreign policies but also learn where he went to school, that he loves NBA star Michael Jordan and that he has a wife and son. All in less than two minutes. What was earlier only known by the people who specialized in the issue could be known by the approximate 2.8 billion Internet users worldwide (“Internet Users”, n.d.). As internet usage increased over the years, conservative views on issues were discussed upon on the internet. This usage of the internet would lead to historic changes in the way people thought about their lives.
A monumental difference between young and old is the views both parties have on society. In the 1970s same-sex marriage was taboo and seen as blasphemy. Being gay in public would yield disgusted faces and you would be spoken ill of in the village. In the 1970s religion still played a moderate role in the lives of people and many people still went to church on Sundays. In the 1970s it was common to have a maximum of five different nationalities in a rural town. In the 21st century all of these views are deemed to be conservative or are up for dispute. Over fifteen nations recognize same-sex marriage as of 2014, Religious service attendance has been decreasing steadily since the turn of the century and mass immigration movement have allowed for individuals of all nationalities to move everywhere. Social thoughts that were deemed disgusting, impossible and possibly horrendous are now debated upon and accepted worldwide.
“However what’s the point? Haven’t there always been generation gaps?” some might say. Yes there have always been gaps between generations but none have been as monumental as the current one between young and old. The youth of today on average “know” more than their elders and have the motivation to “do more”. This is mostly because of the increasing role technology has played in our lives. Society used to change every 100 years or so, however it now changes almost every three years. The question you should be asking yourself now is whether or not the changes that occur in society are for the best, or not?
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