By Nop Monineath
“When I was your age, I was already working, was married, and had you and your brother”, says my mother literally every time she sees an unemployed me on my laptop or phone, switching from some Buzzfeed videos to my twitter back and forth.
I was born in 1994, so I belong to the so-called millennial generation; the generation of those immersed in Internet technology or in other words, the most infamous generation to ever exist. I grew up hearing a lot of “kids these days”, “back in my day” from those people that comes from the generations before me. They are popular lines used by the elders to react to what young people have done that they find unbelievable, or when they are about to relate the hardships of their generation during the tumultuous 70s and 80s.
Opinions of people, specially with generational differences, are not always the same. We all have different opinions and values which evolve over time. These differences can lead to many conflicts when generations clash. Amongst the issues, different ways of life put these two groups apart, adding to the generation gap.
What do older generations expect?
In their time, the older generation did not see young boys and girls facing their smartphone while ignoring their family’s existence. Rather, they saw those who were mature, well-behaved and respectful to elders. This perception has already deep-rooted in half of the older generation’s life, and thus the elders patiently wait to see their younger generation living up to this expectation.
Different from young people, our parents’ era was not an era of advanced technology, which means they grew up with little exposure to the outside world. Elders tend to hold on to their firm opinions to the point that it is like a solid rock — something that is hard to melt down. A judgment would be thrown at young people whose lifestyle, clothing, music taste, etc. are seemingly unacceptable to them.
The previous generation are afraid of change; they thus embrace a certain way of life they have gone though and can be closed off to new things.
From younger generation’s perspective:
The young generation, from elders’ perspective, is like a blank paper waiting to be written on with the societal norm and a standardized lifestyle: get an education, a well-paid job, buy a big house, find a partner and then have children.
The young generation is growing up with exposure to proper education and advanced technology which allows them to unlock themselves from a closed space and step into the big world. The influx of different cultures enables young people to catch onto things that makes them more independent and adopt a more open lifestyle; they believe they are capable enough to learn on their own without following the older generation like a puppet.
None of older generations’ pieces of advice should be considered “so yesterday.” I believe old generations have a common purpose which is to make sure the younger generation adopt a good choice of lifestyle and live their life as good adults once they enter the ‘older generation’ phase.
Differences of generation can result in misunderstandings. To minimize this generation gap, communication is needed. The more communication we use, the smaller the generation gap will be. Talking can solve a lot of things. Exchanging ideas through talking — whether it’s big or small — does not matter as long as we are able to express our needs, opinion and our desired way of life.
The generation gap is something inevitable. But this gap can be bridged through being open-minded to accept older generations and vice versa. Adopting bits and pieces of all generations’ advice would allow us to complete our life puzzle, so that we can live with one another harmoniously.
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.