Twitter Thoughts, Part 1: The Generation Gap

April 24th, 2017

Twitter is an endless source of fascinating facts, observations and discussions for me. Because tweets have to be kept short, there is no propensity among my fellow tweeters for rambling and ranting. My experience with Facebook has been very different. I am always careful not to get involved in lengthy discussions on a) religion b) politics or c) a number of other sensitive topics.

I follow a number of people much younger than myself on Twitter – in fact, I really could be their Mom. But I enjoy their lively chat, take note of their concerns and challenges (of which there are many); and, most importantly, their efforts to blaze a path of their own in an increasingly complex and fast-moving world, where Jamaica always seems somehow several steps behind and trying to catch up. Why is that, I wonder? Perhaps it’s the Generation Gap.

They may look rather quaint and old-fashioned, but these guys were true rebels. Second from left is Keith Moon - a fiendish drummer in his day. And it was considered quite disturbing and shocking to wear a jacket made out of a flag design, by the way!

My Generation: They may look extremely quaint and old-fashioned to us now, but these guys were true rebels. Second from left is Keith Moon – a fiendish drummer in his day (their live act was extraordinary). And it was considered quite disturbing and shocking to wear a jacket made out of a flag design, by the way!

The Generation Gap – that was the name then for the disconnect (often alienation) between the younger generation and the older ones. Youth were not given names like “millennials” and “Generation X-ers” then. Just the old and the young. The old representing Establishment, the young pushing for Change. It’s nothing new. There was a noisy and talented band called The Who in the UK, who sang about My Generation (1965). It was a big hit, over 50 years ago now. The lyrics included: “People try to put us down…I hope I die before I get old.” If you watch the three-minute video, you can sense what one politician once described as “youthful exuberance” – in a different context, of course. It is a rejection of the old treadmill; businessmen with briefcases walking to the railway station and back again, day in, day out – yet another cog in the wheel.

My interest in this topic was reignited by an angry blog post tweeted by a young man whom I know personally. He works hard on issues such as corruption, the environment etc. and he has great leadership qualities. I’m not sure if a particular occasion or incident sparked his post; it is quite possibly the result of pent-up emotion. Anger with the patriarchy, the privileged ones, those who are entrenched in their comfortable “bubble” where everything is fine, so long as the bubble doesn’t burst. Incidentally, I have met some young Jamaicans with this attitude, too – which is quite alarming to me.

The young blogger writes:

You see they have these rules set up that they lived by, that they expect us to apply in our lives but we don’t; and this is their biggest problem with my generation. We just don’t listen. But why should we? And why should we regard older counsel as authoritative because it’s older? And they’ll answer to say “because it is right”. But elder, who are you to think that your way is the right way?

My generation! The fact is, the world (Jamaica included) is a very different place than the one I grew up in, where everything seemed so orderly. Nevertheless, I was quite the rebel myself in my college years, questioning everything and everyone (including my long-suffering parents) and not taking the status quo for granted – at all. Demos and sit-ins were the order of the day. So, I fully understand the frustration expressed by many young Jamaicans. The status quo is there to be challenged – and defended by those whose interest lies therein. But (cue for cliché): The world is changing so rapidly now…

We have a long way to go in empowering our youth. The older generation must play its part in doing so, and not stand in their way.

We have a long way to go in empowering our youth. The older generation must play its part in doing so, and not stand in their way. And youth must help empower their peers!

The blogger insists that the young Jamaican now has easy access to technology, and is thus empowered to do as he/she wishes. This may be true of a segment of Jamaican youth. But how many youth, for example, will “leave college and start our own businesses instead of working for theirs, because we can”? The minority, I am quite sure. Be that as it may, those young people who “can” are unbelievably frustrated at being told they “cannot.” 

Let’s face it. It makes no sense for us, the older generation, to hold young people back. Time is ticking away. Jamaica needs transformational leadership, fresh ideas, innovation and creativity. There is no longer a “one size fits all” in politics, work or in society, no matter how much the old ideologues would like us to be fitted into one compartment or another. New ways are needed. As the futuristic engineer turned business leader Elon Musk (age 45) says:

I think we have a duty to maintain the light of consciousness to make sure it continues into the future.

For me, the keepers of that light need to be the elders, the youth and everyone between, spreading that consciousness together. With or without the benefit of technology.

 

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