Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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The Smartest Generation

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As the earth turns so have generations of human beings. By rotation, it’s also become perfectly acceptable for each generation to think that they are wiser, more superior than the generation/s before them as they become more senior.

Which one of us Boomers haven’t lambasted the “impatience and imminent desire for all things material” trait of Millennials, the “soft” almost laid back approach of Gen Z?

Seniors, we belong to the Silent Generation and Baby Boomer era. Obviously our values and perspectives are radically different from the generation/s who will soon inherit the earth from us. Does this mean we can judge previous generations?

Interestingly, we often look back at our parents’ generation and get “judgy.” I often accused my mum and dad of hoarding stuff. They seemed to accumulate all things. ALL THINGS. Name it and you would get in my house. And I know of countless homes like mine at the time. Reflecting back on the context of the need to accumulate all things, our parents — they grew up in pre- independent and newly independent India. They survived the trauma of partition, of wars, of a changing landscape of a new India. Most of them came to big cities from smaller towns with practically nothing to call their own, but family. There were lines put in place for almost everything from essential rations, to buying a coveted Ambassador car, getting a landline, buying a movie ticket, paying essential bills, to name a few. Our parents did what they felt secured themselves and their families – if hoarding for a rainy day was part of their plan for a secure future, then that’s what they did. I daresay they have passed on that quality to many boomers who find it incredibly difficult to let go of possessions. In part due to the fact that we are actually clinging on to memories lest we lose them to eternity.

Generational changes

In the early 1960s, globally, The Silent Generation was eager to get on with adult life. As soon as they could, they married, launched careers and started popping out kids. In those days, half of all women married before their 20th birthday.

Then the Boomers and Gen X came of age. Typical members of our generation wanted to enjoy freedom, so many put off marriage and parenting until our late 20s or even 30s. They adopted what some researchers call the “slow life strategy,” postponing the common milestones of adulthood until later in life.

The Millennials and more so Gen Z have adopted an even slower life strategy. Many are opting out of marriage all together, and a large number are choosing to marry late in comparison with their parents’ generation.

Born in the ’80s, and ’90s and called “The Entitlement Generation” or Millennials are reshaping the way we do business and spend money. Baby Boomers, our children are not only feeling the effects of the recession and the rapidly changing job market—they are affecting change the world over.

Generations

Commenting of the changing generations, psychologist Jean Twenge writes, “Young people today (Gen Z, ages 11- 26) are simply taking their time and it makes perfect sense.  People are living longer. If it’s now possible to run for president at age 80, then it’s prudent and wise to pace yourself through life, and not try to cram everything into those first unsteady decades.

Gen Z-ers grew up with hypercautious parenting that exaggerates the dangers in life. They grew up in a media culture that generates ratings and clicks by generating division and anger. They grew up in a political culture that magnifies a sense of menace — that presumes that other people are toxic — in order to tell simplistic us/them stories and mobilize people’s fears. This culture of exaggerated distrust and presumed toxicity has influenced us all, but the younger generations most of all.”

In another example, Sudha Murthy, a compatriot of our generation remarked on her affluent grandchildren growing up in another country. Their need to know why they should eat the ubiquitous banana? What merits did bananas hold for them? Could you ever imagine you asking your mum or dad why you should eat a banana? Our generation did what they were told. Is to question something as trivial as my need to eat a banana justified? Mrs Murthy was wise enough to create a story for her grandchild to relate to and hence understand the importance of banana eating.  A pragmatic view and relatable facts are probably what the growing up generation seeks. And providing factual answers is our duty if we would like them to understand the significance of even trivial aspects of life.

Unlike Gen Alpha (under 10 years old), there are some generations before us who don’t even want to hear the whys and less the narrative of an old person. They think they know much more and are way smarter than we ever were. Rings a bell?

The lesson is simple. Generations evolve as the earth revolves. Their default mechanism is to adapt seamlessly to the requirements of their world just like us and the generation before us. It’s reasonable to deduct that when Gen Alpha turns the page on youth and find themselves senior, they will in turn chastise the generations that have followed, endowing theirs’ with abundant wisdom and greatness.

Murthy goes on to mention a hieroglyphic inscription on the timeless and ancient pyramids of Giza, Egypt. Put into perspective that this was inscribed seven thousand years ago. It reads:

The next generation doesn’t respect time.

The next generation doesn’t respect money.

They don’t respect elders.

They have less common sense.

 They are less hardworking.

Sounds familiar? We are all guilty of placing the blame squarely on generations before and after us. Each generation has its pros and cons as they have accrued values and instincts that they have collectively and individually felt best adapt to their current environment.

Inter – generational harmony

Before rendering a judgment that one generation is living the right way or the wrong way or considering one generations’ hardships as greater than another, we would need to have walked in the shoes of that era.  The only constant is change – this is an unchangeable fact of why each generation is unique and comes to life in very different circumstances. Lest we fall prey to lament on the depravity of our world today; let us be honest enough to admit we have also made untold blunders on this earth, while equally creating immense good for future generations.

Senior generations additionally have a different understanding of how the world works, which is most obviously rooted in our own early experiences, so it’s easy for us to assume that the world will continue to operate in much the same way going forward and that the younger generations need to adapt to that older way of living. But the younger generations are necessarily future-oriented.  We need to appreciate that the digital-age future is quite different from the industrial-age past and hence holds its indisputable value in the way the world operates today.

Old IS Gold

Senior generations can make valuable contributions to the community because they’ve been through a lifetime of experiences. Spending time with the younger generation, sharing our experiences, and also learning from theirs, develops deeper family and community bonds. Universally,  there is no better time than now that seniors can help heal a fragmented society —by sharing their gold— positive and profound insights, with the younger generation. Without communicating and exchanging ideas, we’ll have a wasteful tug of war between the past and the future. Dialogue works. So do empathy and understanding. The goal is for older and younger generations to work together, with openness and trust, to ensure that the wisdom of the past is not lost to the future. A generous spirit blesses the younger generations, and encourages their freedom to evolve and regenerate. Now, that’s a smart generation!

In a box:

 The Generations

 The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (78-95 years old)

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (59-77 years old)
  • Gen X: Born 1965-1980 (43-58 years old)
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (27-42 years old)
  • Gen Z: Born 1997-2012 (11-26 years old)

Gen Alpha: Born early 2010s-2025 (0-about 10 years old)

Deepa Desa
Deepa Desa has a wide range of professional experiences in varied industries, ranging from Business, Hospitality, Tea, Beauty, Aromatherapy and Natural wellness therapies, spanning her 35-year career. She is an internationally certified Advanced Beauty Esthetician and Electrotherapist, (CIDESCO/CIBTAC). She is also an advanced Aromatherapist (CIDESCO/IFA), (2005). She has been a consultant for corporates (HUL- Lakmé Lever, Raymond’s, Nivea, Sofitel etc.), and stand-alone beauty and wellness projects. Deepa has extensively trained therapists, for international beauty product companies like BABOR, CACI, Éminence Organics, Kerstin Florian, Gemology, Phytomer, and many more. She introduced oxygen and high -end anti-ageing therapies to Mumbai for the first time, at the spa she co-founded, Tahaa Spa in 2006. She believes in a synergy of science and nature for effective skincare. Currently, she integrates her passion, creativity, and experience to create relevant, relatable articles and blogs, and holds one on one sessions to help stress- management using natural therapies. If you have any questions, please e mail her at editor@seniorstoday.in

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