In 250 Words: The Generation Gap

In the 250 Words series, one question is posed to the RU Student Life bloggers, who each provide their own perspective.

Question 1: What do you think is the biggest difference between your parents’ generation and your own?

Jessica: Today, The Past Is Always Present

Last summer my mother read me some excerpts from the diary she kept when she was 25. Each entry restored her memories of old friends, people she had dated, and conversations she’d had more than 30 years ago. Tucked neatly between the cover and pages were two handwritten poems–one was from one of her dearest friends (now deceased), while the other was from a man she had gone out with and subsequently forgotten about many years ago.

The only evidence that those people and conversations had existed and taken place was preserved in a leather-bound book. It made me wonder if moments like these will exist for me when I am in my fifties. Whereas only the things my mother wrote down were able to transcend time, every text, email, and IM I send is documented word-for-word, archived, and never truly gone. Ex boyfriends never disappear, and people can be looked up with a few key words. We don’t write poems; we text. My generation experiences the past as always present. We refresh the past constantly by scrolling through Facebook photos and checking old messages. Diaries are less common because technological entities serve as extensions of our memories. We’re more connected to our past and to the people in our lives, but in contrast to my 25 year old mother, I can’t live in the present, and my connections all feel so impersonal.

Zahra: They’re Learning… Slowly

Parents these day, let me tell ya, with their new phones and things, are really getting out of hand. I am proud of them though. Mom just learned how to say ‘Churonno’ last week, we snapchatted the entire thing for records when we go through “my story” together before bedtime. Parents are really smart, they just got a smartphone for their birthdays a while ago and they already know how to use Whatsapp like pros; they have some trouble with printing but my sister chips in to help here and there too. You know how it is with parents, we have to share the responsibility.

They’re texting habits, ugh.. don’t even get me started on that. I don’t know why their grammar is always so uptight; they haven’t yet learned that if it’s over 140 characters, it’s not important. They’re also a little behind on acing the selfie game. All the other moms and dads seem to know their angles, but ours just seem to double chin every snap.

They’re also a constant beg for attention, calling me all the time, even during class, it’s getting out of hands how fast they are learning about all this technology business.

To be honest, I shouldn’t be complaining, they’re sort of amazing. In the middle of the night, they’ll just come to say ‘I love you’ so cutely and make it all worth it again. Even with all these gadgets, they still keep our family together.

Janine: Choices, Maturity, and Responsibility

By the time she was 19, my mother was married, had moved to a different country, had responsibilities like paying rent, getting her high school diploma, and wanting to start a family. Being 19 now, I can’t imagine how she balanced all of it. But then again, this was decades ago in a completely different lifestyle.

When I draw parallels between what my parents were doing at my age and what I’m doing, the biggest difference I see is the level of maturity and responsibility. Today, I am reliant on my parents to help me get through daily routines. Back in the day, they didn’t have that. They had no choice but to be self-reliant; It was their problem to figure out how to pay next month’s rent. There was no shoulder to lean on and that was mainly because of their lifestyle.

Today, parents hold onto their child’s leash a little longer, even past the age of 18 which can be a big contributor to how we grow up. It’s kind of ironic that the same parents who help with their child’s responsibilities and who sometimes stall their child’s growing maturity are the ones who relied on themselves so much earlier.


What do you think? Share your own 250 Words with us! Email or even try condensing your answer to a Tweet @RUStudentLife!

Read more 250 Words questions and responses here.