How does a generation gap affect society?
Do you have to deal with the generation gap?
Generational misunderstandings and cultural clashes (generation gaps) are part of the human condition. It is typical of every generation to create new music, dance, fashion, hairstyles, technology, dictionaries and music and adopt gender expressions that differentiate them from previous generations.
To a certain extent, younger generations have always challenged and changed the existing culture, perceiving older generations as old-fashioned, chilly, condescending and non-contact. In the meantime, older generations have always whined about “today's youth”, viewing youth cultures with confusion and an affront to their own familiar generational cultures. One amusing aspect of this recurring type of generation gap is that it's always only a matter of time before the young get old and cultural and technological changes bring them to the other side of the generation gap.
Today's version of the generation culture war shows the Millennials (born from the beginning of the 80s to 1996) and Generation Z (since 1997) against the Boomers (born from the mid-1940s to 1964). Powered by media reports and memes circulating on social media, it shows the tell-tale signs of Ingroup-outgroup bias (what you might consider "tribalism").
These characters include StereotypingThese are negative generalizations about a group and its members, in which most members are assigned certain characteristics, regardless of the variation among members. For example, the current generation of Kerfuffle is a Gen Z / Millennial meme that portrays boomers as politically incorrect and technologically incompetent and promotes the norm of firing them with "Ok Boomer". The downside: The "Ok Boomer" meme appears to be in response to videos of boomers railing that young people are terrible, and articles about Gen Z / Millennial Narcissism, claims and how they are responsible for the industry's decline, Shopping malls etc.
On January 15, 2020, US Supreme Court Justice Roberts heard a case on ageism when he asked, "Is 'Ok Boomer' Ageist?" While I doubt there would be legal evidence to just tell someone in the workplace Age Discrimination I think there is cause for concern about the age bias and the tribalism it fosters.
Ingroup-outgroup bias includes theOutgroup homogeneity effect. Basically, this means that we outgroup members see each other more closely than they do. Of course there are things that can be said that are generally true. For example, Millennials and Gen Zs tend to be more tech and social media savvy than Boomers. But honestly, none of these groups are as homogeneous as stereotypes of the generations suggest. Each of these groups is made up of different people who differ in their groups politics, personalities and work ethics. Each generation group is different in terms of culture, race, economic class, gender, etc., which also means that they are different in terms of their past, present, and future social, economic, and political power.
Likewise, the fact that so many years are included in each of these generation categories makes it rather ridiculous to assume that one person's experiences, life, practices, attitudes and opinions are similar to most of the others in these generation categories. The early boomers were young adults in the early 1960s when the late boomers were born. The same goes for millennials, the oldest of whom are in their 40s and the youngest in their early 20s. In short, it is foolhardy to generalize just so much about each group and reduce the undesirable behavior of individuals to their age group.
Ingroup-outgroup biases are motivated by some interesting psychological forces, some of which seem to play a role here. For example, according to social identity theory, when we step down an outgroup and its members, we feel good about our group and ourselves (this is calledpositive distinctive character). Belief in the superiority of our group and in the inferiority of other groups increases self-respect and solidarity within our own group.
Unfortunately, the negative stereotypes of the other group that promote our self-esteem and solidarity often lead to unnecessary distance and conflict between our group and the other group (Intergroup conflict). After all, it is human nature to dislike and avoid those who seem to dislike us and to return hatred. For example, firing someone with a condescending “ok boomer” doesn't encourage friendly relationships or listening, and a generation counterattack (if you will, an “ok boomerang”) can result. Even so, boomers could benefit from reading between the lines of "Ok Boomer" to see the very real frustrations and fears of Millennials / Gen Zs. After all, empathy is an antidote to toxic conflict.
In short, we should all actively take action against this age-related nonsense as it appears to fuel ageism and damage relationships between generations. It also works against intergenerational conversation and collaboration. We need to address the big problems our society faces today, including economic policies and the conditions under which so many people feel economically insecure regardless of age. Each generation has skills and knowledge that are useful to the other. We all do well to act to narrow rather than widen the gap.
Leadership Professor Megan Gerhardt summed it up well when she said, "Let's stop shaming the generation, calling out the name, the scapegoat. Instead, let's think about what different generations can teach and learn from each other and how these conversations lead to can lead to completely new ways of solving problems. "
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