There’s a disconnect between generations and it goes past teaching grandma how to use her smartphone. For some reason, there often seems to be general resentment from older generations on new trends — and that’s because every generation brings about fundamentally different perspectives from the last one.
A lot has changed in technology the past century. The world went from AM radios to AirPods in a relatively short time. Sliced bread wasn’t invented until 1928. There are a lot of people still around that lived in a sliced bread-less world — Loyola’s own Sister Jean BVM happens to be one of them.
Were we spoiled by sliced bread? Yes.
Would the world be a better place if everyone had to slice their own bread? No.
The same logic applies to modern technology. If smartphones were to suddenly disappear, I’m sure most people could find a way to go on. Although, since we have them, we might as well use them.
Generation X is compiled of people born from the early 1960’s to about 1980, according to the Pew Research Center. Millennials are born from 1980 to the late 1990’s and those born after 1997 are considered Generation Z.
Gen X grew up without access to internet at home, let alone in their pocket. Millennials grew up as home technology began to take off. Products including color TVs, handheld video games and most importantly home internet eventually made their way into most homes by the end of the 20th century. Some believe new technology has stripped the meaning from values different generations uphold.
When Gen X parents stopped seeing their kids hanging out in person but instead sitting in front of a computer screen, it was easy to assume technology was making kids less social. Most Millennials would probably disagree with that assumption — Millennials and Gen Z are probably the most socially active people to walk the Earth.
Take a look at any smartphone user born after 1990 and there are probably more social apps on that phone than someone would be able to count with one hand. Some of these apps might be useful for real-world interactions, such as dating app Tinder or company messenger Slack. Other social apps might be strictly digital interactions, such as Instagram or Twitter.
These applications revolutionized communication for the modern world. Baby Boomers, born in the middle of the last century, and Gen X grew up with strong family values due to their isolation in whatever community they were a part of. There was no way of communicating with someone too far away and if there was a way, then why would they?
It might seem like a small difference if it only means recent generations talk to more people, but it works on a fundamental level. Earlier generations, which tend to be more traditionalist, place more value on family and community, while later generations think globally and place values in social justice, according to the West Midland Family Center.
Millennials and Gen Z also have a completely different experience with social and professional settings. Parents giving dating advice or commenting on your professionalism just make you want to say, “OK, Boomer.”
As younger generations continue developing new ways to make life more efficient, there’s going to be pushback from earlier generations. I find myself criticizing my brothers, who are in elementary school, for spending too much time on their tablet, but honestly, they’re smarter than I was at that age.
It feels as if advice from Baby Boomers and Gen X should be taken with a grain of salt because of the drastic changes in technology and general culture, but it’s important to note these generations lived through the change. These are not just people who criticize our technology, they are the ones who created many of the products we use and made it possible for us to accomplish all that we will do.