can you differentiate the old generation from the new generation?Can you differentiate the old generation from the new generation?

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marilynn07 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I look at my parents' generation I see a group of people who are very determined and individualistic. These are the people who survived the banking crash, the Great Depression and who Went to War both at home and abroad to defeat the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan and Italy. They made sacrifices for their country and lived through a horrific economic depression.  These are the savers, the thrifty, and the victors. Their values are different in that they are "old school" as my 14 year-old likes to tell me. They care about family values, morality, and dislike open sexuality as it is currently made available on most television shows.  (There are some very progressive older people who don't care about the morality and are glad for the changes that have come over time).  My parents' generation is far more religious than my generation or the one coming after me.  The older generation clings to power at times far longer than is prudent, and this creates difficulty for their caregivers as they age. The greatest generation is getting older, and it is hard for them to accept the need  for help in their golden years.  They don't take charity well.

They took pride in our nation's putting a man on the moon (they did it), but they have difficulty with the convenience of modern technology in the form of computers, GPS, cell phones, etc...  I think that the older generation values privacy, and avoids plastering all of their personal information and family news all over the Internet.  Basically they don't trust all of this new-fangled technology.  It is too easy and does not require enough work.  Some even view it as dangerous.

In many ways the older generation had a better education than the current generation coming up. Schooling and learning were seen as a way up and out of poverty. Parents encouraged youngsters to do their best in school and made time for homework and study (after chores working in the fields or helping out in the family business). Because of the Depression, many of these older generation did not get to finish their schooling, so their educational opportunities were cut short due to economic problems. Education to them is a prize. My Aunt finished her GED after she was 50 years old, I remember us doing homework together at the kitchen table when I was staying with her for a time.  She said she now had an excuse to go back to school because I could help her with her homework.

The older generation faced the racial equality and women's equality issues in the 1960s. Times were changing and one thing that was a real issue for my parents was which side of the racial issue we would be on. I recall my father spending hours reading his devotional material and folding his  hands in prayer.  His workmen (2 black individuals) at times waited on our back porch until he came out of the house to go to work.  They had served in the Army together and remained friends after WWII ended.  It was bitterly cold one morning, and they remained on the porch rather than knocking on the door to come in.  At that point, something in my father snapped.  He said, "come in this house and get out of the cold!"  They came in and just stood inside the doorway.  He brought them to the table and had my mom set two more places.  That was when I learned about equality between the races.  My parents' generation had some tough personal issues to face, and each one faced it in his or her own way.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nature of relationship pointed out in posts #9 and #10 between grand-parents and grand-children is indeed very interesting. I believe the reason for this are greater understanding of children that grand-parents have. They have seen their own children grow out of so many childish activities, and they accept all this as a natural process. Further, the grand-parents may have more time and more patience for the grand children then the parents.

The period of 18-20 years cited in Post #11 may be valid from, say, later half of Twentieth Century, however the pace of change was much slower in olden times, and for that time this estimate may not be applicable.

I agree with your comments regarding posts #9 and 10, however that perspective is a manifestation of the latter half of the 20th century. (referring to my post) Most of the American family dynamics prior to the mid 20th century were not rooted in 'the time and patience for the grandchildren', they were entrenched in the reality of family obligation. The shifts in 'social history' do not always parallel the 'history' itself, which is why historians must examine all aspects of the historical experience.

I appreciate the time you took to read my post.

With gratitude, dbello


drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's not necessarily true that technology is the purview of the young. I am a late Baby Boomer, with two Millenial children in college. My mother was born at the very beginning of the Baby Boom. Although she was late coming into the Facebook age, she has embraced it with gusto. Using the laptop and wireless card we gave her for Christmas last year, she uses email daily to stay in touch with family. One of her fondest hobbies is She posts frequent updates on Facebook and is Friends with all of her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. She is Facebook Friends with MY Facebook Friends! Every time I log into my FB account, I see my mom's comments on several people's pages. My joke is that my mom is everybody's Facebook mom. One of my friends from high school is going through a divorce; her own mother died earlier this year after a long bout with Alzheimer's disease. My mom has been a surrogate parent to her, giving her encouragement and advice via email. This would have been much more difficult if not for technology, as my mother is in NC and my friend is in Texas. But they "talk" almost every day.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've always thought that the older generation consisted of those people who are fifteen or twenty years older than I am, at any particular time! (Age is indeed relative, it seems.) A lot of the discussion here has focused on the use of technology, which does seem to be a kind of dividing line between generations, but the two generations can be differentiated in other ways, of course. Older people have witnessed and experienced more of life, and--speaking very generally--I think this impacts their reactions to it. The older generation is both more patient and less patient than the younger one: more patient in realizing that "this too shall pass" and less patient in terms of inefficiency and waste, being especially impatient with those who waste someone else's time. (I've seen this again and again among members of my father's generation.) We need both generations in society for what they contribute. The younger one questions, challenges, and sparks change; the older one puts on the brakes sometimes, providing the wisdom of experience.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Social and Cultural historians suggest that a new 'generation' is born approximately every 18-20 years. These numbers are utilized as a guideline when researching history, they are not meant to be written in stone. If the historian uses this guideline as a frame of reference, clearly the historian can differentiate between the social, economic, and political realities pertinent to their lives. However, I think it's fair to say that the 'how', 'why', and 'when' of the 'generation gaps' occur in a somewhat haphazard way. All one has to do is look at the shifts in what is culturally acceptable today and compare it to a generation or two ago. This can be found in television, language, sexual morality, music, dress, and even Congressional legislation.

Are there one better than another...that is open to debate...can each learn from one another...I think so...but not always easy.


M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You have to beware what you consider "old" because right now the oldest Millenial is 33 years old this year, and to some that might be considered "old", yet, it is not.

I think even as recently as 2004 the world was still quite not as connected as it is now in 2009.

The one thing I can think of is the Digital Divide and, like mrsmonica said, it really does not have an age, but a level of skill.

The Digital Divide is the gap between tech and non-tech people. It is more of a problem solving technique, as technology is something you can figure out if you apply your problem solving skills. Yet, some people are less open to change, and more prone to remain in the same boat the have been for ages- regardless of age- THOSE, whoever, I would call "the old generation"

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That is interesting question, and there no specific one answer to it.  The biggest difference between the older generation and the newer one is techonology and how we communicate.  The newer generation is focused on communicating with friends, family, coworkers, and other people at light speed.  Also the new generation is about displaying their life online for the world to see; it is almost like they all want to be movie stars in the movie called "Life."  Twitter, myspace, facebook, and other sites have become not just a tool online, but a huge part of a person's life.  The older generation, like my father, still write letters, send cards, and like to talk on the phone.  So the biggest difference the speed and access to conversing.

sbriddon1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is interesting.  It reminds me of the recent visit and converstions with my mother about discipline and children.

My parents raised me fairly strictly.  As a result, their example has influenced the way I try to raise my children - I confess I am almost 'Victorian' which leads to a lot of stress and conflict.

Imagine my surprise when my mother said that children were different these days and one needed different methods of discipline.  The thought that struck me was that as much as we are influenced by the last 'generation', they in turn are influenced in turn.  I wonder if there is really in any value in talking about generations as though they were unmutable and monolithic?

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like your answer #6. I think generally about any older generation or younger generation its a difference between wisdom and a passion for change.  The older generation can provide wisdom to the younger generation so they can make wise decisions in their life and in their community. The younger generation can give that energy and want for change to the older generation and help them assimilate into a new era.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

mshurn, I wonder if the similarities between the temperaments of the young and the old account for the close relationships that develop between grandparents and grandchildren? My kids both get along great with my parents, and my parents are so patient with my kids. I see this time and again with friends' kids and their grandparents.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

msmonica, I think you're on to something. I, too, have noticed this. For one thing, grandparents don't get as "exercised" as parents over many things--like fingerprints on the TV screen and empty ice cream cartons in the freezer!

zumba96 | Student

Well the main way someone can differentiate both generations is because of age, knowledge, and the use of technology. The age difference is a given because it is a generation gap. The knowledge that older folks have however is different because they have their whole life to reference to and the lessons they learned while the younger gen only has how old they are right now. Also, the older generation relies less on technology while the younger generation is usually always seen with a phone in their hand. 

thewanderlust878 | Student

This is a very interesting question, thanks for asking it! I, like most of the other great answers here, feel that it is on one hand difficult to differentiate between the two, but on the other it is easy because of the obvious differences. For example, some of the obvious differences between the two are the ability to use and comprehend new technology. Quite obviously the newer/newest generation(s) are easily able to understand and use all of the latest technological advancements. 

vale666 | Student

The difference is that they had almost nothing and we have almost everything! THey had to work hard physical jobs,the had no developed tehnology, no computers,no mobile telephones, TV etc. We have all of that now. BUt still they had a beautiful childhood which is sth we dont have.

mohamedvakkayil | Student

this question is relevant until the last pupil in the world dies.

Now we belongs to the new generation but after we dies it is thrown to the older generation. So any achievements of new generation is later becomes that of older.

have a great year yaar.

loraaa | Student
This topic is very great, thank you very much for this good effort. I have benefited a lot from it. I wish everyone to benefit from this excellent topic. Thank you again...
mslaluna | Student

There will always be an old and a new generation. With each new generation born, (one can now view generational changes about every decade as we are now in a time of exponential expansion) there will leave behind a generation of old. The old vs new is relative to the generation that is relating their own individual experience.

docsheng | Student

Differentiating individuals by age is called 'ageism', also called age discrimination and is stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age. It is a set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, and values used to justify age based prejudice, discrimination, and subordination.

Having said that, the difference that is most obvious is not so much technology as it is the acceptance of intrusive technology, which has the potential to erode our basic civil liberties.

This sheep-like quality in our youth is counter-productive to participating in a democratic society.

Take Social Security for example: You have been told that there won't be any when you reach retirement age. You accept this and continue to pay into Social Security...

What is wrong with this picture?

I don't think your Grandmother would accept this as lightly as you do... But, she hasn't been brought up with Barney and the Telletubbies... and all the rest of the garbage that you refer to as 'technology'...

What I see happening is: instead of instantaneous communication and a world-wide social network, there is very little communication (other than short bursts) and no social network at all...

The difference between the old and the young is that the System has been able to perfect mind control since your Grandmother was in college....

minnielauren | Student

This is an interesting question! The newer generation has a lot of technology for sure, but also did not have to go through things like the Great Depression. People who experience the Great Depression horded a lot of their belongings and money due to their experience with that. I believe that people who lived through this were able to leave large amounts of money after dying- in comparison to the baby boomer generation. The baby boomer generation is going through the tough times with technology changes and staying educated with this fast growing ideals in order to even keep a job. Some have been able to transition well and others - not so much. The newer generations are technology savvy and have a different mind set. I have experienced that their work habits are different from the baby boomers with working hard and doing a great job at it. The older generations worked really hard to get to where they are and many newer generations seem like slackers at times (not all though).

daskalos | Student

What is old and what could be meant by generation?  If you are talking about the generation applied by the media, there seemes to be one evey ten years.  If you are speaking of a phase of a specific culture that is an other matter.  In our country the media and marketing try there best to keep things in flux so that you, the consumer, will continue to strive for what is in at that moment.  However in reality that can even be placed into a culture of change which will in time passaway and become old.  New and old are a state of mind.  I long for the plesant things of the old days, but as a student of cultures and history I understand that they really are only those things I want to remember. Don't discount the old you will be one soon and the old shouldn't discount the new, they are the things to come.

gra1910 | Student

Ref. to the points raised in posts#9 & #10 & subsequent observation in post#12 which do I agree. I would like to add that grandparents do take a back seat in disciplining so the grchildren do feel alittle more comfortable with them, as children do need someone who they feel are not teaching & correcting  all the time.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Nature of relationship pointed out in posts #9 and #10 between grand-parents and grand-children is indeed very interesting. I believe the reason for this are greater understanding of children that grand-parents have. They have seen their own children grow out of so many childish activities, and they accept all this as a natural process. Further, the grand-parents may have more time and more patience for the grand children then the parents.

The period of 18-20 years cited in Post #11 may be valid from, say, later half of Twentieth Century, however the pace of change was much slower in olden times, and for that time this estimate may not be applicable.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Talking about differences between old an new generation, it will be helpful to identify two distinct sources of difference. These are the difference due to the difference in age, and second is the difference in the culture and environment as it existed at different periods of time.

The older generation has lived longer and have more experience. They have enjoyed and got bored with many things, that younger generation is still busy enjoying. There is also difference in the responsibilities they have. Middle aged people not only have to manage their career, they may also have to look after their children and parents. In comparison children still completing their education have only their study to bother about. They still not had the chance to find out how much better their parents and teachers are from their bosses. The nature of such differences has remained the same over the ages.

The difference from the second source show a much greater variability as we compare them down the ages. When the pace to technology was slow and ways of living did not change much from generation to generation. But today with the very high rate of growth of technology, the cultures and living styles across the world are changing very fast. Thus today there is much more differences between generations a compared t the past.

The new generation today has much wider knowledge due to greater exposure to a wide range of information through TV and Internet. However, they lack depth in their knowledge and understanding. Also, younger generation is more technology savvy because being young they learn to use new technology faster.

There are also many psychological and sociological changes taking place among younger generation. The seem to have less concern for the long term view, and seem to care less about long and lasting relationships. Also they seem to care more about the external looks and less about stuff below the surface. This is true for their choice of things as well as of people.



epollock | Student

An old generation is somewhat resistant to change in technology, but they did fight the great wars for freedom, liberty, and against oppression. Things will always change faster than before, and in the next 100 years, I don't think we'd be able to predict anything that we think would happen.

alilion | Student

knowledge, technology

madihaa | Student

yup very easily see urself and then see ur old ones u can easily make a difference between generations