By Natalie Sit
I’m turning into my parents. I look suspiciously at groups of teens and suspect they want to rob the convenience store when they’re probably just talking about school. I also don’t understand the fashion trends of other teens. Why is it stylish to wear the least amount of clothing? Was it only a year ago that I graduated from high school, where I used to stand with my friends and raise unwarranted suspicions? I’m sure my clothing choices worried my parents and other adults. That’s apparently the nature of the generation gap.
However, in high school, talking with teens that were a year younger than me felt wrong somehow. We grew up watching the same Saturday morning cartoons, listening to the same music and participating in the same education system. We were speaking in English, but we couldn’t identify with each other. It seemed like a gulf between me and someone born six months after me had developed. Could a generation gap develop that quickly?
Every decade had a common event each generation used to define itself. In the ’30s, the Depression tied people together. The ’40s had WWII. In the ’50s and ’60s, the threat of a nuclear war was very real. In the ’70s, Vietnam occupied everyone’s mind. A major economic recession in the ’80s worried everyone. But in the ’90s, there hasn’t been a common threat like in previous decades.
The ’90s were a mishmash of trends, starting with grunge. Fads borrowed from every decade starting with the ’20s arose, but quickly disappeared. Adolescents now don’t fear dying in a nuclear war or from a terrible disease, instead they wait for the next fad to sweep by.
But is this limited to the U.S., Canada and other industrialized nations? In the poorer nations of the world, survival is the foremost concern. Get enough food; survive this day of fighting. The fear of dying is real. The definition of a generation is based on whether or not a person is old enough to remember the war or famine, but in North America it seems to depend on in which year a person was born.
I wonder about the views of the "echo generation," my generation. Will I understand others’ opinions and views?
Or will we drift apart, a result of living in peaceful yet restless times? I want to understand, but it’s becoming more difficult.