Cover Story: The generational g a p in America

Cover Story: The generational g a p in America

By Samm Sharp and Faith Holland Posted December 20, 2019

Since basically forever, older generations have not gotten along with younger generations very easily. Have you ever tried talking to your grandparents about politics? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Seemingly, our modern generational gap is larger than depicted in years past; perhaps from such advances in technology and worldly events seen and not seen by certain generations. Why does Gen-Z have such a different outlook on the world than generations before?

A generation gap as defined by investopedia.com is a “chasm that separates the thoughts expressed by members of two different generations. More specifically, a generation gap can be used to describe the differences in actions, beliefs, and tastes exhibited by members of younger generations, versus older ones.”

Today’s gaps range between the Baby Boomers (54-72 years old), Generation X (38-53 years old), Millennials (22-37) and Generation Z (0-21 years old). To answer your question, yes, you are Gen Z even though you had the same childhood as some of the 90’s babies. No, not all of us are the Tide-Pod eaters, not all of us are arrogant and ungrateful, and not all of us are obsessed with social media, Jake Paul, and listen to rap music (this is a broad assumption, please don’t yell at us for getting it wrong, we might cry).

TECHNOLOGY
As far as technology goes, a lot has changed since the Boomers were born. Baby Boomer Ms. Pamela Bidart thinks that their generation was filled with a lot of change when you think about no television and no space travel. According to wmfc.org, some inventions we can credit the Boomers with are the microwave, lithium-ion batteries, artificial hearts, and the internet. Xers can be held accountable for flip phones, video games, and electric cars (yes, Tesla Motors). And of course, without the Millenials, we wouldn’t have social media.

Typically, since forever, older generations have disapproved of modern technology and kids always using it. A study at Lancaster University recently proved that resistance toward modern technology isn’t due to accessibility issues like previously believed. Some believe it’s time-consuming and hold worry about security issues. Or perhaps, it’s due to a strong sense of social responsibility to disapprove of the younger generations, no matter what.

Gen Zer Justin Horton, Lowry junior, believes older generations dislike modern technology because it symbolizes change.

“People don’t really like change,” said Horton. “It’s kinda like how past generations didn’t like ‘punks’ and people rebelling because they had always been taught to be so conformist.”

Boomer Mrs. Pamela Bidart, Lowry’s librarian, has mixed feelings about technology.

“I think social media has a really good place but I think we are doing a poor job teaching our kids how to act responsibly,” said Bidart.

With having the technology now that Bidart didn’t have when she was a kid, she sees that it is harder to not let your past define you.

“We all made mistakes when I was growing up but they weren’t blasted around the world…it didn’t follow you,” said Bidart.

Xer Mrs. Alexis Mattson believes technology has made younger generations more sensitive.

“I think the focus issue is you guys (Gen Z) are handed things instead of earning them. Kind of like we played games on a board, and if you lost you lost. Now you guys get upset if you don’t have that instant gratification,” said Mattson.

Millennial Mr. Sean Whelan is constantly intrigued by technology and the way it is ever-changing.

“I think it’s a really cool aspect of our society,” said Whelan. “We can connect to people across the world and learn in new, different ways. It can become a problem though; when people are addicted to screens or they use them so much that their eyes hurt.”

Millennial Holly Meyer thinks older generations are cautious of social media because it is foreign and unknown to them.

“Since they’re not born with it and not used to it, I think maybe it’s uncomfortable for them to use it,” said Meyer.

Even Gen Z is wary of technological advances.

Zer Brooks Carroll, Lowry senior, believes there are both positive and negative aspects to modern technology, and older generations don’t take into consideration how helpful technology is to them as well.

“It has helped exponentially with medical breakthroughs, and it just helps make things a little more convenient for people today, but personal information can get around so easily,” said Carroll. “I think older generations aren’t fans of modern technology because it’s making younger generations ‘lazy’ and ‘softies’.”

Gen Z has yet to contribute to society, as most of us aren’t even in our 20’s yet. But with that said, we take advantage of all the technology available to us. We have access to the entire internet in the palm of our hands, we keep little robots in our house to vacuum or turn off the lights, even watches that can track sleeping patterns. The future is in technology.

POLITICS
Politically, our generational gap seems to keep on growing. Typically, as you become older, you tend to become more conservative; but our Boomers were born during a period of patriotism and control, which inadvertently contributes to their relatively Republican ideals. According to people-press.org “Millennials remain the most liberal and Democratic of the adult generations… In addition, far more Millennials than those in older generational cohorts favor the Democratic candidate in November’s midterm congressional elections.”

In regards to current president Donald Trump, just over a quarter of Millennials approved of his performance for his first year in office. For Gen X, that number jumps to just over a third, and around 44 percent of Boomers approved of the way Trump was handling the presidency. Approval of former president Barack Obama was outstandingly higher for Millennials weighing in at 64 percent, and about 48 percent for Boomers.

In our rural community, the tendency to lean conservative is high, but it seems as though more Gen Zers in Winnemucca lean to the liberal side.

Zer Carroll considers herself a democrat and has a constant uncertainty of President Trump.

“I have always been in disagreement with Trump’s presidency because of how ignorant and stuck up he has come off to the public,” said Carroll. “His close-mindedness has always rubbed me the wrong way, especially because I view everyone as equals, and he wishes to rid America of nearly 20 percent of its citizens.”

Horton believes that in regards to recent presidents, Trump hasn’t done the best job.

“He’s not that good compared to recent, but he’s not the worst… by far,” said Horton.

ECONOMY
Boomers, specifically the first two-thirds, were born right after the war. They did not experience the Great Depression like their parents. Bruce Gibney, author of “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America”, states that the Boomers did not endure “any deprivation at all.” Gibney also states the Boomers have committed “generational plunder” by devastating the nation’s economy, financing two wars with deficits, and on multiple occasions, cutting their own taxes. Their financial reforms worked but didn’t go far enough. Baby Boomers have dominated the economy for more than a quarter of a century, but where does that leave the rest of us?

According to fowmedia.com, Gen X is the first generation to not do better than their parents economically. During the Great Recession of 2007-2010, Xers home equity fell over 40% according to the Pew Research Center. With their emphasis on self-sufficiency, they overcame it, and are actively trying to get the economy back on track.

Because of the Great Recession, people are not retiring at age 55 as they used to. Though most Boomers are retired or close to, this prolonged retirement age might be Gen X’s chance to rebuild our economy from the ground up. Bizjournals.com states that Xers have “the knowledge and skills to bridge the generational gap between two larger age groups, and ultimately can help steer a newly-recovered economy into the future.”

CNBC news source stated that Millenials are the most educated generation in history. Though they have been plagued with higher student debt, stagnant wages and poor job prospects, their median adjusted household income is $85,000 a year, which is more than any other generation had in the last century. CNBC also stated that Millenials “bring with them new perspectives on financial goals and investment advice.”

Joseph Sternberg stated that Millenials are more conservative with spending, probably due to the Great Recession in which they couldn’t afford house payments and were drowning in student debt. They’re also far less likely to invest in stocks in the way that generations before them did. The nation’s debt is more than $22 trillion, and that debt is going to fall onto future taxpayers.

Horton believes the younger generations are not doomed to financial instability due to previous generations.

“We’ve always had a national debt. It’s probably going to keep growing and inflation is going to rise… I think what we’ll really see is the dollar becoming less valuable worldwide.”

Meyer doesn’t believe that her generation, as well as Gen Z, is doomed because of the Boomer’s ignorance toward climate change.

“I think there’s always hope,” said Meyer. “Looking forward, we need to address those things, but I think there’s hope. No matter what.”

THE GAP OVERALL
In the end, older generations have always accused the younger generations of taking advantage of the technology available and disapproving of its use. Every one of them has their reasons for disapproving of our choices, though those choices are what individualize our generation from theirs.

Technology is a big part of our lives, but we’d really be just fine without it. We’re not as glued to our phones as you think we are. We still go exploring and drive around listening to music; we read books and create things with our hands; we still have a life outside of social media. And if one thing can be said about Gen Z, it’s that we enjoy other people’s presence.

The New York Times recently published its second Gen Z photo contest. Teenagers took pictures that they felt described our generation and wrote something explaining their choice of composition. A runner-up named Willa Zoe Dorgan captured two pictures of a young couple at a party. They weren’t on their phones; merely just enjoying each other’s company.

At the end of her excerpt, Dorgan stated: “In the middle of a crowded room, surrounded by people, technology, and distraction after distraction, our generation makes the most effort to simply be with each other.”

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