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Generation Gap: An Eternal Social Issue

Margaret is passionate about exploring and discussing with others humanity's ethical dilemmas and society's complicated issues.

The generation gap is evident in every society.

The generation gap is evident in every society.

What Is a Generation Gap?

The generation gap is a social phenomenon that can be found in every society at any time period. The term refers to certain psychological, behavioral and emotional differences between the young and the old, which give rise to conflict, the breakup or loss of communication, misunderstandings and various other behavioral and emotional problems. Most people think that it affects only family relationships, but that's far from the case, since it can have significant effects on every possible human relationship, from family and romantic relationships to friendships and business partnerships. A generation gap in the workplace is also a problematic issue. Nowadays, bridging the generation gap has become even more difficult due to the fast pace of modern life.

I suppose every generation has a conceit of itself which elevates it, in its own opinion, above that which comes after it.

— Margaret Wilson Oliphant

Exploring This Social Phenomenon

Many aspects of young people's behavior are frowned upon by older people. Firstly, the latter often accuse the former of showing a lack of respect for their parents (and generally for older individuals). It's a common behavior for them to have an irrational demand for independence and complete disregard for any parental guidance. Another common accusation is that numerous young people tend to be disrespectful and exhibit foul language and behavior, often conspicuously in public places. Moreover, they are thought to be lacking any kind of purpose in life and disinterest in professional orientation and career goals.

Are Older People's Accussations True?

There's no denying that there is some truth in the above accusations. Indeed, a large amount of young people today tends to be irresponsible, careless, disrespectful and depend on their parents for a long time, far beyond them reaching adulthood. On the opposite side of the coin however, parents and authority figures are often absolute, strict and very judgmental when it comes to young people's behavior. They don't make the effort to try to see the world from young people's perspective and forget that they were once young too, having committed the same mistakes and showed themselves a rebellious, non- conforming behavior.

Tattoos, drugs, smoking and alcohol are things that are often frowed upon older people.

Tattoos, drugs, smoking and alcohol are things that are often frowed upon older people.

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I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.

— Hesiod

Bridging the Generation Gap

Due to the fast pace of modern life, bridging the generation gap is now even more difficult than it was in the past. Nevertheless, some common ground between the young and the old can be found, if only both sides make some retreats. Communication is always the key. For example, when it comes to family relationships, parents should be firm and strict when necessary but less absolute and more understanding of their kids' behavior. They should be loving and supportive of their kids' choices and not push them to follow the same path in life as they did at their age. Kids shouldn't be encouraged to fulfill their parents' unfulfilled dreams. Instead, parents should start conversations, which would help them understand their kids' choices whereas the latter should be more patient and understand that it's natural for people with more experience in life to know a lot more than they do. Furthermore, bridging the generation gap in the workplace could also be done, if everyone is given the chance to present and discuss their thoughts and ideas, while also making an effort to see both sides and come to grips with other viewpoints.


I think it's natural and inevitable for people with significant age differences to think differently, have different values, morals or political views. That is not to say, of course, that age is always a barrier that keeps people from having healthy relationships. But, more often that not, it creates misunderstandings and gives rise to conflict. What's important, is that everyone understands that different people equals different viewpoints. There is no right or wrong, as long everyone treats each other with respect and kindness.

What are your thoughts on generation gap?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Margaret Pan

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