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Generation Gap 2.0: Is There Any Reason to Panic?

26/02/2014 13:06 GMT | Updated 28/04/2014 10:59 BST

A couple of months ago, a University assignment brought a long-disputed issue to my attention - the so-called 'generation gap'.

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as 'a difference of attitudes between people of different generations, leading to a lack of understanding'. What's worrying is that this lack of understanding is not caused by a one-time, simple communication mishap, but it has apparently turned into a 'gap'. When my fellow teammates and I, all in our twenties, sat down to discuss the structure of our behavioral change campaign, it came as no surprise that we had first-hand insight into generation gap experiences. At some point in our teenage life, we had faced the piercing, judgemental stare of an elderly, presumably more mature person. More often than not, it wasn't limited to just tutting or disapproving eye contact, accompanied by slow nods of the head. It became verbalised. We'd be lucky enough to get one of those when listening to music on our headphones on the bus (at a volume that slightly exceeded a whisper), when texting on our smartphones on the bus ('this generation and their obsession with technology, they're glued to those things! in my time..' etc.) or when wearing a slightly different outfit (again, on the bus -maybe not taking the bus altogether is the key to bridging this generational gap). One of my colleagues was revolted that even our good intentions seems to pale in the face of the above-mentioned actions - he'd once stopped to help an elderly lady on the street, who was struggling to carry her grocery shopping. Instead of a kind 'thank you, young man', he got a disapproving look and a bitter 'why are you not in school!?'. As it turns out, it was his day off.

This Forbes article from 2012 speaks volumes about the critical level of this gap -it keeps widening and apparently, there's nothing we can do to stop it. Whatever we do, we're still the Facebook and Instagram generation and we can't cure our elderly folks from "juvenoia", a term coined to express an exaggerated anxiety towards the increasing influence of social change on children and young people. Interestingly enough, this is a reoccurring phenomenon in every generation, as opposed to another side-effect of modern technology and the changes it has brought upon. In the majority of cases, when we say, think or do something that doesn't effortlessly mould into the perception the elderly generation seems to have of our behavior, we're faced with the classic line - ' When I was your age/ In my time, we used to do things differently! None of this nonsense of ...' (insert whatever current thing your parents or grandparents disapprove of here). More often that not, we tend to reply: of course you did things differently, because those were different times. You did not spend hours in front of a computer because they hadn't been invented. You played Hopscotch and Hide and Seek because there was no PlayStation and Xbox. You didn't spend all your savings on traveling around the world because travel mobility had stricter rules and regulations. The fact that we do or want all these things doesn't make us mindless slaves in the face of technology or modern trends, it helps us integrate better within society and ultimately, be happy about the memories we've made and the accomplishments we've achieved.

As the above-mentioned article states, we ought to find the answer to one question: why is it that people always sell future generations short when history shows us that there is cause for optimism? After all, our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents turned out fine. So maybe now's a good time to stop judging and try adjusting and understanding. Otherwise, we will end up avoiding public transportation altogether.