The Generation Gap: Popular Culture Today Versus Thirty or More Years Ago
The generation gap refers to differences that exist between young people and their elders. This gap is noticed after a certain period of time, especially due to variations in notions and life views of children and their parents. Despite the fact that generational differences have always existed since ancient times, the modern evident generational gaps are attributed to extremely rapid cultural changes that were witnessed during the postmodern period. All this is in line with issues dealing with politics, fashion, musical tastes, and culture. All cultures are known to change over time (Abraham 11). This change is necessitated by all people in the society during their daily interactions and transformations in technology. The choices that people make both at personal level and collectively have always been the main factors always altering people’s cultural traditions. On a larger front, all decisions that people make affect all aspects of their life ranging from shape of their houses to the nature of the governments. Environmental factors, art, and history are the main factors behind the generation gap, witnessed in today’s popular culture in comparison with that of thirty or more years ago (Waddams 2011).
Generation gap can be looked at as the difference in attitude, or even lack of understanding and relation between the younger and the older generation (Abraham 11). This generation gap has been experienced from times immemorial, but today it has come to reach an explosive stage. The behavioral patterns according to which people adored and cherished the life values no longer exist. They have greatly changed, and their impact is always being felt. Today, people like to live and behave in their own way. They do not conform to the norms and cultures that they once held dear in their communities. The respect that they gave to these cultural practices has declined with time. This evident attitude and resilience has been the main factor of the ever widening generation gap, which will never be filled. Numerous researches have proved that the impact of the societal changes in people’s practices and beliefs on the present society can never be reversed. These factors are now destroying millions of families. The elders always look after their children and make massive sacrifices in a bid to nurture them in the right way. Naturally, parents feel they have all rights over their children, alleging the sacrifices and expenses they have incurred in the process of upbringing. They always want their children to keep on adhering to their instructions and teachings since they put many hopes on them. However, as far as children grow up, they demand more and more freedom of their thoughts, preferences, and actions. The most unfortunate case is when their thoughts, preferences, actions, and tastes are opposite to those that their elders expect them to have. They revolt and argue when the latter impose any restrictions or barriers on them. The ultimate result is the breaking up of families and eventual ruining of their values (Waddams 2011).
Art has greatly influenced the cultural changes in societies over time. Many years ago, humans always evolved their ability to imagine and communicate by use of symbols. This fact gave people the capacity they needed for art—the great ability of people to invent and innovate new solutions to many problems. Human creativity has always helped people shape their surroundings, rather than being considered as operating under the former’s influence.
History influences the generation gap through the many memories, stories, and records of all events that people recall; their future lives are affected. All the interactions that people have with their environment also accounts to these changes. People use this valued information to always reinforce their cultural settings and uncover any nw information about their past. New gained information often changes the way people understand the influence of history. People’s perceptions of their past actions and interactions always affect how they go on to respond to the today’s world and in the future to come. People know and understand their culture from its history, and the more they learn about it the more it changes.
Environmental and social changes also have a part to play in this cultural change over years. The environment, in this context, consists of all the physical and social resources available to people in their day to day lives. It has always presented challenges and constraints to people. Resources, in line with this, depend on factors including geography and climate, built structures and infrastructures, population density, the proximity of various cultures, and access to outside technology, commodities, and materials. People always experiment with their resources, which, in turn, shapes different responses to all the same kinds of the existing environment. Every time people interact with their environment they end up changing it and, in turn, open up new possibilities that influence their choices in the future. Some cultural change evidently occurs quickly, while others take place over many years (Steve 10).
Postmodernism has always challenged the traditional and cultural values of every today’s society, precisely, the western one. Today’s life is extremely different to what people experienced thirty years ago. The pace with which transactions are conducted in the current world is so fast that those who lived thirty years ago find it difficult to adapt. The traditional values regarding marriage and family no longer exist. In the past, a man was seen as the sole bread winner and women were to be submissive and abide all the instructions that the man offers. Men were the only ones qualified as competent at the places of work and male chauvinism was the order of the day. The parents dictated the age of marriage for most women, and they were forced into relationships they never fancied. The current situation is different as most women are always having a similar status in all the work places as men. They also never settle down in marriages leaving it until later (Skousen 12).
The values children used to have before have been shunned due to the fact that they are now being considered as a burden. They are no longer fancied in the society. Some nations, such as China, have placed a ban on the number of children that one is expected to have in his or her lifetime. The policies rather favor small families as compared to the value given to the large families thirty years ago. A lot of modern couples decide not to bear children at all. The economic times are the factor of consideration. Couples always plan their lives, and they can only afford one child. In earlier times, the society could help one raise children in terms of supporting them acquire education and basic needs. The modern times call for every person to carry his or her own burden. There is no place or chance for depending on another person. The economic pinch is felt by everyone.
Religion no longer counts as much as it used to in old times. People considered certain places sacred and holy. Shrines were respected and adored by every person. There was no space for joking with God’s word and places of worship. The elders gave guidance on who to worship, the sacrifices that were deemed crucial, and the sanctifications that all members of the society were supposed to observe. Every person respected and cherished the religious settings of their communities. Religion, nowadays, has less of any effect that it used to have on society. People now consider it as almost becoming irrelevant and insignificant. There are many cases of criminal activities, such as vandalism, being conducted on the places once considered sacred. People no longer give attention to the minor details that made religion matter. The Holy Books such as the Bible and Quran are not applied in many institutions of learning. Entertainment is now the order of the day and many youths conform to it. The number of people attending religious meetings and gatherings is declining as people have other things to worry about.
Sexuality is no longer deemed a point to ponder. Most youths are freer in line with their sexuality as compared to ancient times. Sexual acts were prohibited in earlier years. People could not talk or even think of a teen engaging in sexual activities. One would be considered an outcast in a community if he or she was found committing any sexual activity before marriage. The elderly women, in some communities, could check their girls’ virginity before marriage. One would not be allowed to marry if found not to be a virgin, and she would be subjected to severe punishment. The boys would be encouraged and advised to desist from any temptations that would lead them into fornication. The Holy Books were adored, and their teachings were always embraced. Both the Bible and the Quran advocate for sex after marriage and this was the order of the day. The modern world has many wonders, and they will hardly be seized soon. Youths are sexually active, even at a tender age of 12 years. There have been many cases of pregnant teenagers at eleven years. This has been aggravated by the fact that these youths tend to emulate each other in their naughtiness. Media air programs of have sexual content, and even pornographic videos are sold at ease. This makes teenagers get tempted and ends up falling into the trap of fornication. These changes in behaviors, attitudes, and preferences are the causes of the many conflicts that the present world is witnessing.
Complexities of life sum up as another problem that faces this generational gap. These evident complexities have always arisen in today’s wake of modernism. This is so since everyone and everything is hostile to customs and traditions; the world has been overturned to such an extent that renovating or filling the gaps is a goal not worthy fighting for. Parents are also to blame as they never put into consideration the problems and difficulties they underwent when they were young. They forget the feelings they had when they were teenagers and how they used to behave. Teenage life is a stage where one feels the vigor to explore, within him or her, and fights out to achieve his or her goals. When one is denied this freedom, he or she may engage in activities that may be deemed harmful to the society.
Technology has also been a major factor influencing the generational gap. The vast developments and transformations in all forms of technology have made life easier and simpler to operate (Clare 22). People can now communicate very fast and share ideas even if they are miles apart. They can also identify flaws in many areas that were once proven as being difficult to crack. Mistakes can be handled by many mechanisms, a shift from the earlier ways of children’s punishment. Socialization has taken a different front, and people embrace these new trends. It is necessary that all people, both adults and youth, use technology in the best way possible. They should not abuse the best cultures that people once valued by changing them. Technology should not be used as a way of drifting towards bad vices in the society. It should elicit positive changes and development in the society (Clare 202).
The advancement in technology, the ever changing environmental and social factors, art, and history will keep on influencing the way people relate. Parents and children should find an amicable way of dealing with all these aspects, and they also should recognize the fact that these changes are necessary.
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