How many times have you’ve heard the saying, “Back in my day…” Every time those words come out of someone’s mouth, a pair of eyes roll at the same time. What is happening is one generation is comparing their life experiences to another’s generation. Though people might not intend to be negative or condescending, people will mistake their words. Meanings are in people not words. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings between generations.
It is time to recognize the problem between generations. We all “inherit” the world that the previous generation left us. Previous generations will always have something to say about the next generation. Younger generations will feel like older generations don’t understand them. What we sometimes fail to grasp is generations don’t always define all of us equally.
Generations are simply a time period with events that could have affected a group of people.
Generations are likely to share some common experiences; however, there are always exceptions. They are like stereotypes.
Most people typically categorize individuals in the wrong generations. Dates of generations are approximate because there are no clear definitions for when a generation begins and ends. Some generational dates overlap because of the lack of clarity. These are generally the suggested years for generations:
- Boomers: 1946-1964
- Gen X: 1965-1979
- Xennials: 1975-1985
- Gen Y / Millennials: 1980-1994
- Gen Z / iGen: 1995-2012
- Gen Alpha: 2013 -2025
We need to go beyond the blame game between generations. We have a moral obligation as humans to help the next generations. Our moral duties need to extend passed the living generations, and on to the next that we may never get to witness. According to Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher, we are obligated to help and support the upcoming generations. Kant even believed that at some point, the older generations need to let the newer ones find their own way in the world. This implies that older generations need to accept the newer generation’s choices.
Imagine a world of support between generations, not comparisons.
Generations share events amongst themselves, but they also share it with other generations. For example the Twin Towers collapse. Baby Boomers remember watching it on the news or possibly seeing it happen in person. Baby Boomers weren’t the only generations to have seen it. Xennials, Gen Y, and parts of Gen Z also experienced it in different forms. That’s four generations that share the event. We all share more events like this, but with different perspectives. Often times, the gaps between generations aren’t all that big.
By continuing to hold grudges against other generations, a person can create animosity and discontent between generations. This can lead to people from both generations lashing out and causing trouble. If things escalate far enough, someone could end up in jail, or worse. To ensure everyone’s safety and general wellbeing, it is best to let go of the notion of generational gaps.