Mind the gap

Matt Morgan
Jun 12, 2014
As our society has enjoyed an increasing life expectancy, the need to communicate between generations becomes more vital.
 
Every generation has its cultural norms and identifiers. It's rather interesting to see how they interact as several generations can share a household, community, or country at one time. There are many unfortunate instances where clashes occur instead of bridges being built. Lessons from the past aren't passed on to future generations so that we may learn from those who came before.
 
There are almost countless ways to get the ball of communication rolling whether you are young or old. The dinner table is an excellent starting point. Books, too. Do you attend a religious service? The words and traditions themselves are quite ancient and don't pretend you don't look to the nice, old lady in the front pew to know when to stand, sit, or kneel. If you believe the sentiment, the old guy at the end of the bar (Caution: Big Lebowski spoilers!) usually has some wisdom to impart on youngsters, too. 
 
All you have to do is ask. Seek out those conversations. Did I mention ask questions?! Learn from the experiences of others. For a great example, watch this video about kids reacting to one of the first desktop computers made.
 
Amazing how much the world has changed since the day that computer was new, isn't it? But for those of us who weren't alive at that time how could we know? One can't just read the knowledge from articles. Actually hearing the stories about how it was used and the sensations it caused at the time make it real for the young audience. A grand sense of scale and advancement can be forged from such a simple act as this.
 
What about the reverse? So far we have only been looking to the past in order to build our bridges of knowledge and experience.
 
Just as we watched a video on kids reacting to old technology, enjoy this video of elders reacting to a recent cultural trend. It can seem unsettling to see the next generation supposedly throwing away the norms of the past. What happened to the music and stories of before? To simpler times? They exist, just differently. It is the way of the future and nothing can help shape it, slow it, or embrace it unless it is understood by those in the generations that came before. Old tales and wisdom are never impossible to share in the present. Sometimes they just need a little modernization (Caution: O Brother spoilers!). You have to dip into a culture with which you may feel detached else the themes and terms will be lost or left to be redefined by others who never knew them themselves.
 
TheFineBrothers are but one source to enjoy these bridges being built. Their channel, let alone the Internet at large, is a single option among many. Here are others for your consideration:
 
As a young person have you ever considered visiting or volunteering at the Ohio Veterans Home or other retirement facility? Imagine everything you could learn there!
 
If you are older and want to learn more about the next generation as well as impart your business advice, what about joining Junior Achievement as mentioned here?
 
What if you are between the generational extremes, or just open to absorbing as much info as you can? There are always articles like this that in retrospect do a good job at joining the two together. Participating in forums such as these can expose you to the opinions, interests, resources, and knowledge of a wide variety of people, too.
 
What has been some of the best advice or a story you have received from someone else of a different generation than you?

Comments

JMOP

Another well written, appreciated piece.

The best, but maybe the worst piece of advice I was ever given was by an older man. He said he taught his children to always tell the truth, that way they didn't have to remember anything. Needless to say, I don't remember his name, or much of anything else.