The inspiration for this Tumblr account stems from a link I posted on my Facebook not too long ago. The link was for an article entitled “American Dream is Elusive for New Generation,” and had spurred fascinating and passionate responses from some of my peers. In any case, the piece essentially revolves around recent college graduate Scott Nicholson’s decision to turn down a job that offered $40,000 a year as well as his father’s and grandfather’s individual understandings of Scott’s situation.
Some of my peers, understandably so, blasted the article for being poorly written and narrow-minded. What intrigued me most about the article though was how individuals from different generations, backgrounds, and experiences viewed the same situation differently. Scott, a “Millenial,” turned down the job offer because he saw the position as a dead-end, career-stunting job. Characteristic of Generation Y-ers, he remained optimistic of his future career prospects. His father, who grew up with the rest of Generation X, reasoned that the job was an opportunity and would have opened doors for Scott later on in his career. From what I can recall, the grandfather, a Baby Boomer who lived through World War II, indicated that he has never seen the job market and economy in such poor condition and advised Scott to “head west” (and/or possibly even search for jobs outside the United States). Here were three individuals looking at the same issue - Scott’s decision and search for a job - with perspectives colored by their respective upbringings and firsthand experiences.
I suppose this seems obvious to some because perhaps we have become acquainted with the notion of “generation gaps.” In some ways, perhaps we have accepted that there simply is no easy way for members of different generations to completely understand and sympathize with each other. I am not content with accepting this as a given because it seems like this may not have been the case in certain time periods of our world’s existence. Is this notion that we refer to as the “generation gap” universal and relevant across all time and space?
I know neither the answer(s) to the question nor to other questions that come up as I read these articles and discuss them with friends, but wanted to create a space where I could both hazard some guesses to what the answers could be and engage in some healthy, constructive discussions with anyone who may have happened upon these posts and would like to contribute. In other words, I hope to use this particular blog as a space to get down my thoughts and simply… “ramble.” It’s not rambling to me, but I can see how others can see this as rambling.
Returning to my question about the generation gap, maybe what societies have witnessed throughout history is a general widening of the gap. Perhaps we can conceptualize this notion in a way not too dissimilar from how we conceptualize a widening between the poor and rich in most developed societies. Underlying this is an implicit assumption that both ends of the gap were united at some point in time, and have since diverged from one another. So what played into this divergence?
Technological advances undeniably both widened and accelerated this widening simultaneously. Perhaps this gap had not expanded at a constant rate of change, but maybe at an exponential rate. For example, consider the Internet. My friend Charita noted that Generation Y, more so than previous generations, have been endowed with an exceptional luxury to choose. Millenials generally have relatively more choice in deciding, say, who they want to marry and what kind of jobs they want. Since I am running low on time, here is the response I posted:
Thanks for the responses! I wonder if another aspect to consider is the new technologies at our disposal today, specifically the Internet. There’s no denying the reality that the Internet has caused an explosion in the number of choices nowavailable to the generation of people that are more ready to adapt these changes rather than experience a transitioning from, using your example of marriage, personal referrals or chance encounters to using dating websites. In other words, perhaps most of us have had the ‘luxury to choose’ because that is all we have ever known - we generally grew up in fair-to-great economic times, have had exposure and access to a certain degree of education, and are immersed in the new technologies that have defined the world as we know it. All of this have equipped us with a particular set of tools and a particular worldview to approach problems in our everyday lives, so when something relatively “new” like conditions associated with hard economic times hit (i.e. scarcity of desirable jobs), what do we do?
I’ll just leave it at that (for now?). Maybe I’m being cynical. Maybe I’m being difficult. Maybe I’m being something else. I’d just like to make the disclaimer that these are some of my views and some of the thoughts that came up as I read the article and the responses, and that I’m not trying to preach or anything of that sort. If you agree, that’s cool, and if you disagree, that’s fine too. Okay, so the article isn’t great, but this conversation sure is (at least, to me)!
There is a lot more I would like to include, but I think this was probably more than enough for my first post and will be sure to post some more thoughts in my next entry!