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Wednesday 20 August 2014


Youth and the older generation

Posted in: Our Communities
By Diane Sparkes - 4th February 2013

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While reading an article on how Ireland’s president had called upon the youth of Ireland to outline their ideas on the future needs of their country. The response is contained in this link.

I thought it prudent to take a look at how the connection between the NZ youth of today and our older folk. This link being particularly relevant as recent reports on the Marriage Equality Bill show a disproportionate reaction to this bill by the older members of NZ society, that is those over 70 years.

It appears hardly surprising the future of Ireland looks in good hands; their youth appear to see things with greater clarity than the youth of a generation or more ago. I suspect the culprit for this has very much to do with something the older generation has yet to come to grips with completely, that culprit; social media and the internet. Today’s youth together with those just a little older are more informed, more in touch with society’s needs, and above all they communicate with each other to a lever unheard of in the past.

They not only see what is happening in their own community but their own country and the rest of the world, this has never happened in the past to this extent. Think about it for a moment, one hundred years ago the only way anyone knew what was going on in the world was through newspapers and word of mouth, both means of communication suspect at the very least. Fifty years ago not really much had changed, communication largely increased through the medium of radio and television, both these mediums still had an element that could be moulded in such a way as to achieve the result deemed desirable by whoever had the most money to either make or lose.

Up until the mid 1990’s this situation remained pretty much the status quo, with the exception of those in a privileged environment. Business, Government and Universities began a process of what we know today, as information sharing, but this was mainly only for those specifically involved. As a result it became a question of informing the people no more than they needed to know, life was more about who you knew rather than what you knew, and even more about the capacity of ones bank account and how educated you were.

As more and more of these educated mostly youth of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s saw the potential in the new way of communicating, the whole process evolved exponentially. Finally it was realised by these very smart youth and those who saw the potential to make money, the potential to distribute knowledge to those ordinary people who in the past were mainly kept in the dark.

Then in 1995 a revolution in communications came into the world, and that revolution became known as the Internet. Instantly those with the ability began communicating with others of a similar mind. Sadly, those of the older generations who simply could not be bothered were left behind. Computer technology, was often far too complicated, some had tried earlier but failed to comprehend the complexity of it all.

Our youth never gave up as today’s Internet and associated computer technology proves, technology advanced to social media, and the world changed. Still the older generations struggled with the process, cost and a lack of ability for many continued. It is a fact that so many of those of the older generation have yet to come to terms with setting their digital alarm clocks, video recorders and the like.

For the youth, the excitement of education and the ability to communicate instantly and socially became a normal way of life like never before. I make no apologies for what is almost a history lesson on computers and the internet, it is however relevant on understanding this point of view.

The youth that started much of this communication evolution are now middle aged and older, many are more financially secure because of this communication process, some have become very rich, but more than that very little escapes them on any level.

Unfortunately; for many of the older generation who everyday benefit in some way through today’s technology, they still do not get it, holding on to past ideals, they still discriminate and fail to move with the times. For those, the concept of children should be seen and not heard still exists. Possibly because the older generation were themselves brought up without the benefit of everyday communication, coupled with the fact that many had gone through a most destructive world war and wanted to forget, the idea of keeping oneself to oneself became a convenient, even a desirable way of life. Many of the older generation believe they have a right to hold onto the old ways and influence our youth as if they still know nothing.

While the youth of today seek for equality, and freedom, a difficulty remains for the older generation of simply understanding the youth, their ideals and their way of life. Of course it must be respected that youth know nothing of the hardships of war and the real effects of world depression so their view of the issues of today’s society will not, thankfully, be influenced by the past, allowing them to see more clearly. As an issue develops almost instantly the youth will know about it, they will discuss it and solutions will be discussed and solutions attempted.

They may not always get it right, but is it not more important to communicate effectively than to act impulsively without all the facts. Sadly the past is strewn with misunderstanding, misconceptions and seriously biased information, this is still something so many of our older generation base their understanding of today’s issues. Simply many are not up to date so they rely on what they have always done or believed.

One serious observation must be seen in the way so many of the older generation have been virtually brainwashed by religious factions, they respond for example to the Marriage Equality bill not with informed reasoning but with rhetoric.

Continuing to expect the world today to remain as it was 50, 30 or even 20 years ago is definitely head in the sand stuff.

For example, how many 70 year olds knew about the lives and needs of Gay people when they themselves were young or even more, those who identify as transgender? Personally I know I did not. They might have had suspicions but because these individuals were beyond the societal norm and targets for discrimination, they never learned about them and generally turned to religious expectations for guidance, which as we know has always been against such people. Even worse many created their own phobia’s that they continue to hold today. For today’s youth who have many friends who are, Lesbian and Transgender the idea that society should discriminate against them is appalling, that is largely why they object to the existing system of marriage, because it denies the rights of one section of society, this means for some, their friends and acquaintances!

Where people are only ever informed on what is wrongly based opinion, largely driven by religious beliefs, fear of consequence will remain.

The time has come for the older generation to respect and acknowledge that they know little of today’s world and its needs, sure they have lived through it, taken part in it, yet still they fail to understand it.

There is nothing to fear from the youth of today, with their knowledge and understanding of what is right, our world is in good hands. Equality for all requires only understanding and love!


Diane Sparkes - 4th February 2013

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