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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Trying to Relate To and Understand the Different Generations

I'm into my sixth decade of life in this planetary experience called living.  I'm at a point where I definitely note the differences in what people in my age group like compared to "younger" people.  Now there are several different generations following me to compare lifestyles and interests too.  Plus I know I do not know the "language" spoken by these different generations or understand some of the things they have an interest in.  I'm quite sure they also don't understand my "old school" preferences either.  I was once them, and they are now me years ago.

We dress differently, like different music, movie choices may vary, and have different attitudes about the culture that we live in.  A couple of years ago, I asked a nephew in his 20s or early 30s to explain to me what the term "100" meant.  I had seen it often in an emoji form but didn't know what it related to.  He explained that it meant the truth or what was real.  When I was mentoring 10-11 year olds in the public schools I also noticed a different "language" that they spoke among themselves.  They liked to do some kind of hand gesture made famous by a professional football player.  I also noticed that many teens seemed to be copying a hairstyle made famous by another football player.

What makes them copy what they see?  Probably the same things that made me copy fashions that were around when I was there age.  The media publicizes and sometimes pushes as image onto the masses, people copy it and then there is a mass rush to join the bandwagon.  Why because it's the "cool" thing to do and it somehow shows that you are different from everybody else.  But in fact you are just copying an image that has been pushed onto you as something you need to do or be.

It's ironic how there really isn't as much individuality as people think there is.  There may be differences between the generations in our day to day "customs", but within the generations we are just copies of each other.  We are tribes within an age band.  Then within that age band we may also be different based on our race and culture.

One thing is sure.  I cannot relate to much of the things I see or hear in the younger generations.  Some  younger folk in my family like to use the phrase "nigga".  I've told a couple of the young generation that to me it's a derogatory term some European Americans tried to force upon us.  In my opinion by our own people using the term we help those European Americans who want to ensure the term lives on and in fact is accepted by black people.

Then there is rap music.  I rarely listen to it.  My preference is the real singing that reminds me of the Motown sound I grew up with in the era of the 1960s.

What really irritates me is when the younger generation attempts to impose their culture on older people.  I cringed when I saw my nieces and nephews attempting to get my 87 year old mother to do the signature move of the NFL quarterback that young people love to copy. Plus the two finger hand salute which I also haven't asked "what does it stand for?"  It kind of looks stupid for an older person to try to do what a young person does, especially if they really don't want to look young.  It would be like me buying young people clothes that represent my generation and not theirs and telling them to wear the clothes just because I said so.

I see music artists representing the younger generations and don't know who the artists are.  In that respect I've graduated from bondage.  I no longer have to care who they are!  If they make music that sounds good, that is great.  I now have a choice of not wanting to fit into what the younger generation cares about.  I have decided to stay in my generational lane, and will only change lanes if I want to.

So let's agree.  You younger folk can do your thing and believe what you are doing is really important.  I will gaze at you knowing that what you are doing is fine, but what I'm doing and care about is also fine.  I'll respect your right to do your thing as long as you respect my right to be who I've become over the years.  If I want to copy what you do, I'll do so voluntarily.