Old versus young, a generational perspective

Posted Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 12:00am

I am writing on an important issue that affects all of us, something that knows no boundaries and reaches through all levels of society. Whatever could it be, you may be asking yourself? I am writing of the differences between old and young.

Yes, I am going to write and complain about old people today, even though I am close to being one of them. That could be the reason why I am complaining, I have to get it out of my system while I am in the twilight of youth and just write what I have to say before it is too late.

What I mean is older, or previous generations. Not necessarily old people. I say this because I am tired of hearing all the complaints older people have regarding the younger generations. Now don't get me wrong, I hear praise as well, and congratulations. There is recognition from older generations regarding the accomplishments of the younger generations but not as many as there are complaints. At least that's the way it seems to me, I could be wrong though.

Ever since I was a kid I would hear grown-ups say some comment or another about kids these days, or young people ... .etc. The comment was usually followed by a complaint and/or suggestion of what young people are doing wrong or how they could do it, whatever it was, better.

They would talk about the good old days when they were young and how they did this and that, or how they had this and that, and blah, blah, blah. It was at this point I usually roll my eyes and tune them out. I never had the heart to tell them that time moves on and everything changes.

One of the things I like or am most bothered by, I haven't quite worked that out yet, is the fact that everything was better back then. If you have read a history book, you can actually see conditions progressing and improving steadily throughout the world. Yet to hear older generations talking, things started to go downhill right around the time when our parents turned 25 or so.

I noticed that people older than me seem to expect something of younger generations. Whatever that is, I am sure I will never know and will never deliver it. For two simple reasons, because I do not understand and because I have no desire to give them what they expect. I am not in the habit of pleasing people for the sake of pleasing them, or because they think they deserve and even expect it. I have come to the realization that I will never understand that mentality.

Even those five years older than me seem to behave this way. I am guilty of this behavior from time to time. It's true, I see younger people doing some of the things younger people do that I never did at that age and wonder why. Why are they doing that? Why do they not do this instead? Why do I care? What's that on his shirt?

Many times I wandered around with friends just doing our own thing, hanging out, picking up ladies or whatever it was we happened to be doing when I overheard some comment or another from some old person. They were wondering almost the exact same thing that I often wonder.

One reason, I guess, is that some of the things kids do today were not around when I was younger. I would have had so much fun. I did have so much fun. I still do now that I think about it. Maybe that is one of the gripes older people have with those born a decade or two later than they were. They never got to do some of the things that we get to enjoy today. But they should realize that they have done some things that we will never do. Also they can learn to do the things we enjoy doing on a regular basis. How cool would that be to just be at some random gathering of your peers and a 60- or 70-year-old person laughing and having at least as much fun as you? Now that is not to say that an older person should do all the things that younger people do, because let's face it, some times that could be a little worrying at best and disgusting at worst. But why can we not find some middle ground where old and young can get together and just party like it's still 1999? It happens all the time at rock concerts.

Also I really have to put out a particular gripe I have concerning older people. I seriously do not like it when somebody five to 10 years older than me approaches me and expects to be treated like they are the person who invented penicillin or something. Who exactly do these people think they are? I will treat them with respect, as I was taught to treat all people whether they are two years old or 92. The fact that people think they deserve better treatment than they are prepared to give me is just plain-faced idiocy. If someone approaches me, they will get the same treatment I give everybody else no matter how old he/she may be. I do this because everybody is a person and I treat people with respect until given reason to do otherwise.

The point of all of this is that even though some of us do not understand many of the things older/younger people do, we do not need to. I just want to get on with my life and do what I have to do and what I want to do. Every so often what I want and what I need happen to be the same thing.

Many older than me cannot understand why I dress the way I do, why I listen to the music I listen to or why I treat people the way I do. It is because my environment, people I have met, things I have seen and done have led me to behave the way I do. In all my experiences, it has been me that absorbs all of this data and formulated a response to a situation. I have learned things from my parents, teachers, friends, family, culture, television, music and so many other entities. Most of which were new to me at certain points in my life and am still learning new things to this day. I would be willing to bet that everybody else has done the same. The difference is that different things have been going on for each of us born in different eras. Things get better, things get worse and we are who we are. All of us are products of time, environment and choices. I choose to be who I am because that is what I know how to do. Those that came before are the same; only they have had different experiences and born in a different era, as are those who came afterwards.

So last but not least, I humbly ask that the older generations realize that there are certain things they will never understand about younger generations and vice versa. Teach us things we need to know to help better ourselves, family, friends and world. Give us advice, council and maybe a nice home-cooked meal along the way. Let us do what it is we are doing and get off our backs.

In closing I leave you with an interesting quote from a website called, "The Generation Gap". Once again, obtained with the help of my good friend Google. "Every generation is a 'melting pot'f different kinds of people, yet every generation is united in an 'age location' in history. Fads, fashion, and politics reflect specific attitudes about each generation's interpretation on life. Many generations have been labeled with a name reflecting their attitudes and actions."

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