Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Generational Differences

I don't know if this is normal of kids and their parents, but when I talk to my dad, we tend to get into these philosophical and/or very deep conversations.

Yesterday in specific, we discussed the generational differences between our generation (Generation Y I believe we're called?) and my dad's generation ("baby boomers").

My dad concluded that his generation was raised by parents who went through the WWI and WWII, and because of this they were raised as spoiled brats. Their parents, having seen rough times, wanted their children to be privileged. His generation quickly became greedy (hey, remember Enron, and now bp?) and careless with money (look at the good times they went through: the 70's, the 80's, the dot com boom of the 90's...). Hence, the idea that one can buy a car or house without actually having the money because of this idea of "easy money", that is, money that is easily obtained through loans but is not actually the money of that specific individual.

So, he describes, his generation is a bunch of greedy pigs out to get expensive cars and TVs.
He asked me: how would I describe my generation?

I pondered a bit, and thought of this.

Our generation is not as easily labeled in that it is not homogeneous the same way the baby boomers are. With the introduction of the internet and media came an ever changing world. A world in which one year is dramatically different than the last.

For example, take the baby boomer generation. What reflects a culture better than the music and movies of the time?

Every movie in the 80's will depict the girls as having frizzy hair, large hooped earrings, and jean jackets. The guys: football builds, varsity letter jackets, and jeans. Now the question is: is this a stereotype of the 80's, or a sociotype?
I'd say a sociotype.

There was but one major (maybe a few minor ones) culture in the 80's. One that wore such clothes, and listened to Duran Duran. There was no internet there to introduce those people to different styles or music. There was only the radio and TV, both of which had only a couple stations/channels and thus only played what they knew to be the most popular songs/shows.

But what of our generation?

Think about the movies in this generation:
Mean Girl depicts the different cliques in high school, each with their own fashion. Though there was the "nerd" culture and the "plastic" culture in the 80's, that was about it. There were no "popular Asian girls" or "debate team" cultures.

Movies now have main characters in many different groups: goth, punk, nerdy, geeky, "plastic"...etc.

Music reflects this diversity in taste as well.
Just look, my area is popular for hyphy music, SoCal is popular for ska, then there's rap, pop, hiphop, metal, rock, light rock, jazz...all genres that had their times in the past, but also are popular now.

Furthermore, our generation is going through a time of globalization. Americans watch anime. Japanese dye their hair blond. Europe is the hub for dance music. Koreans decided to take that dance music and create K-pop. Indians developed Bollywood. The new Miss USA is an Arab. Our President is black.

Everyone is learning from and adopting culture from one another.

With technology comes a new language. I talked to my Freshman high school English teacher, who informed me that the new line of Freshmen do not know the difference between "nite" and "night", "k" and "okay", "goodbye" and "baibai". The influence of the internet has changed the way we communicate and the way we perceive the world. These kids are still considered part of my generation, but because technology progresses so quickly, they are completely different than I am.

The point? With the ability to develop our own tastes for music and television through an infinite number of international influences (different channels, websites, etc), we can shape ourselves to be truly unique individuals. The influence of the internet changes how we perceive things and how we communicate. We can be total anime geeks that cosplay for conventions. We can be totally obsessed with Rammstein. We can be emo kids or punks, plastics or nerds. And, especially in our area of the world, we have the freedom to develop our interests in high schools that provide us with athletics, the arts, music...any outlet imaginable.

Because of this exposure to new possibilities, we have become a heterogeneous population. A generation in which no year falls in the same category. A generation in which everyone has their own opinions and is able to broadcast it. There is no way to describe my generation.

Except that everyone is a procrastinator and doesn't plan ahead.

What do you guys think?


  1. Haha, I love the ending of that. This is a cool introspection, though I think the culture of the '80s was actually a different generation from ours and your dad's (it was Gen X--hence, we are the subsequent Gen Y). Both the ones before us were pretty spoiled, though, but so are we. It is a very interesting world we live in indeed.

  2. Karina, you should write more of these essays, they are fun to read :)

    You're absolutely right about how technology is allowing for more diversity. I think there is a limiting factor to technology though. Yes, all the information is out there, but you would be more inclined to search for, say ska music, if someone were to suggest it to you in person beforehand or because all the kids at your school are listening to it, and I think that ties into the idea that there's always going to be a popular culture/cultures, and popular cultures may be more of a regional phenomenon nowdays rather than a national one, but I do think it still exists.