Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap

Ever find yourself scratching your head over the kids these days?

Quick quiz:

Have you ever heard your kid refer to the figures in Monopoly as “icons” instead of “tokens”?

Have you ever been meandering through a thrift store to hear your child exclaim: “Mom, look at the size of that CD!” while they are pointing at a vintage LP collection?

Have you ever been ice skating and heard one of your favorite songs while growing up, only to have your enjoyment interrupted by some teenager saying, “Hey, an oldie goldie song!”?

Have you ever said, “When I was a kid….”?

If you answered any or all of them with a resounding “Yes”, then you have already experienced the generation gap.

Ah, the good ol’ days! Why is it, that when we look back on when we grew up, nostalgia wipes out all the negativity we felt at the time? Maybe it is because as teenagers, we were raving lunatics with out-of-control hormones, and everything was dramatic, big, and life-changing. As we got older we became more emotionally stable and have more perspective and logic.

More often than I would like to admit, I find myself saying to my kids: “Well, when I was your age….” Fill in the blank with any number of assertions of idyllic and misremembered childhood days. For example, before we were given a Wii U, we had one computer and a laptop in the house. The laptop was always off limits, and the computer time was meted out according to age and availability. One of my children complained one day as to the state of the affairs, as far as electronics go. I went full fledged, “When I was a kid, we played outside!”

“Mom, but it’s hailing!”

“Never stopped us! It builds character.”

Okay, maybe it did stop us, but we played board games or hung out. We did have an Atari, which at the time was cutting edge gaming (I totally just dated myself!). But we didn’t live by it. Yes, we enjoyed a good round of Yars’ Revenge or Asteroids, but mostly we had face to face time with our friends. These days a face to face encounter is a 10 second Snapchat that isn’t even saved for later reference. This can be an issue in our area, where the internet is flakey at best. I’ve had conversations with my kids at college that went something like this:

“What r u talking bout?”

“What? When?”

“A few minutes ago.”

“Don’t remember.”

How’s that for a meaningful conversation?

Of course, the internet wasn’t even a commodity back in the good ol’ days, either. We had T.V.’s where we had to get up and change the channel, phones attached the wall, and a Betamax tape player. When I was a teenager my parents gave me a stereo that had the record player, two cassette players, and an 8-track! (You get points if you know what a Betamax player was, and bonus points if you know what an 8-track player was).

Technology isn’t the only change over the last generation. There are philosophies of social conduct and linguistic interpretation that have altered over the last few decades. One such example was brought to my attention recently when my 8 year old was reading his Bible. He came to me and posed the following question:

“Mom, why are there random smiley faces all over in my Bible?”

I couldn’t imagine what he was talking about so I asked him to show me. He did.

Mark 6:12 “And King Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad :) ….”

Very funny. So, instead of the current generation seeing the colon and end parenthesis as the earmark of the ending of a literary aside, they now see smiley faces at random intervals. I guess it could be worse. When I was growing up the best known symbol was the one featured on the bumper sticker that said, “Honk if you want to see my finger”.

A strange shift in philosophy was brought to my attention when I was chatting with one of my college-aged daughters at dinner. I had just finished one of those “when I was your age” statements regarding face to face conversation. “Not only did we talk face to face, but we looked each other in the eye out of respect and to show we were listening!” My daughter told me that in her Social Studies class they did a little experiment. She had to stare unblinkingly into someone’s eyes while they were conversing with her. My husband and I looked at each other both wondering what the big deal was, and why that would be an experiment? Our daughter explained and it was obvious that the intent of the whole project flew right over our speckled gray heads; that not looking away periodically made others uncomfortable because it was a breach of privacy.

A what? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. According to what I just heard, young people today consider it a breach of privacy if you don’t break eye contact and look the other way every so often when talking to them. Shifty eyes have replaced what my generation learned as polite social manners. Personally, if someone doesn’t look me in the eye when I’m talking to them, I find that offensive, or even suspicious; I wonder if I’m about to be hit by a truck, or a thief running away from the police after stealing a poor old lady’s purse.

I have to wonder what is next? Will it be socially unacceptable to actually talk face to face at some point? Actually, in some ways, it already is. Witness to that would be all the social hook-ups on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat- just to name a few. Back in the good ol’ days we spoke in person to each other so that we could rightfully read voice inflection and body language. I have to wonder how many statements are misinterpreted because two of the key elements we use to communicate to each other are largely absent from our culture.

Yes, there is a generation gap. There always has been no matter which generation you are in. However, I think that if both sides of the gap strive towards better understanding, it can be bridged in a way that benefits all.

Cover Image Credit: Brage Neslein Korsnes

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I'm Allowed To Be Sad, Even If Things Could Always Be Worse

Who gets to decide that your situation is worse than mine?

Too often when people are down in the dumps, the line used to console someone is "it could always be worse". But what is the quantifier that differentiates one situation from another? Who is the decision maker when deciding your situation is worse than mine?

For many, it's very hard to admit when something is bothering them or an unfortunate event occurs in their life. It opens them up to judgment or criticism and the fact that someone else in the world knows what is going on. A lot of people also get caught up in the idea of not allowing themselves to be sad because of the idea of vulnerability.

Being sad or expressing fear shows that situations and external factors can affect you. Our society, especially for men, has made it so that showing negative emotions and being vulnerable proves that you're not strong, things can break you and get to you.

Keeping all of that in mind, when someone comes to you to talk, whether that be about what they made or a situation out of their control, don’t try to help by reminding them to be grateful for what they have.

Yes, complaining can become redundant but if you are being approached by someone who does not talk about their emotions often being told to be more positive makes them shut down. In reminding them that they may be more privileged than someone else, you are just trying to comfort them and give a positive perspective, however, you may instead be creating an idea of invalidation.

When a situation is out of their control, it's very frustrating to not be able to make the situation better so they came to you to know that someone else in the world understood them. Instead, that person may have interpreted your comforting words as a reminder that they are not allowed to feel this way and that they are being selfish.

Where is the balancing scale that differentiates one situation's turmoil over another? Everyone's backgrounds and perspectives on life have a huge influence on your interpretations of different situations so what may be terrible to you may not be as bad to someone else. However, if it is YOUR situation, why is the listener the one that gets to determine the severity?

People are affected by events, words, actions and situations differently so no one has any right to justify one tragic event over another. It's not necessary, they can both be negative for either party and you can be there for the person going through the situation without a comparison factor being required.

Ever have a friend that constantly comes to you with issues but never listens to your advice? Sometimes when people come to you, they don’t want advice. They just want a listening ear. Someone they can trust that won't criticize and will just allow them to vent and give them a hug or a shoulder to cry on at the end.

Human communication and having these difficult conversations may be hard to navigate the correct response so don’t be afraid to ask! If you're unsure if advice is requested, ask them because your presence and listening ear may be all they need.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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The Painful Beauty Of Being Alone

Me, Myself, and I got your back.

According to research, humans need interaction with other humans even if the desire isn’t always there. The need for companionship is engrained in our collective DNA and the pain that comes from feeling lonely is a hard proof. However, there are the lucky few who constantly find themselves dealing with the pains of hunger for a companion for almost every friend they have made had never been genuine, and the one friend they’ve got is loneliness.

Believe it or not, that’s a blessing more than a curse.

Throughout my short twenty-four laps around the sun, I’ve seen friends come and go like dirty underwear stains washing away in the washing machine. As I got older, I wanted so much to not be lonely that I lowered my standards of self-respect at the hands of people who were merely fillers in the space. My years of hell were my last two years of college and one year abroad in which I had become codependent on the idealization of having someone to be there for me because the sounds of silence in my apartment made me mad. However, I am ten times stronger for I have learnt to be my own hero when people had then and still now let me down.

Through being lonely, my inner voice became my flashlight in the darkest of tunnels. If my eyes are cameras then loneliness has donated me filters to see through an altered reality we all live in. My hunger pains had become the cement paving a stronger ground for my fragile feet to trail upon. And you want to know exactly why and how? Because at the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with yourself and that harsh pill to swallow becomes a soluble tablet since you’re so used to taking it down dry all of your life.

So I will continue to accept my loneliness and even more so dance with it. I will grab it by the balls and make it my bitch. When another friend or lover comes and then fades away so quick, I already know who to call on speed dial and that’s one is the one who never hits it and quits. To whoever feels the same, I hope this article helped you to realize that you can stand on you’re own two feet, and that you are ten times stronger than you feel.

Cover Image Credit: Benjaminrobyn Jespersen

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