By Alvin Richardson, Columnist
It is a universally accepted fact that every older generation believes the next or younger generation is on the fast track to Perdition – Going to hell in a hand basket and all that. There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Perhaps the most influential of all is that each distinct age bracket has its own unique set of life experiences and historical occurrences that make them think in a particular way.
I guess it’s kind of a cause and effect thing. Ya’ll pretty much know by now that I’m an old school kind of guy. Without going into the specifics of my birth year let’s just say I’m old fashioned because I’m old. That ought to be enough said but there are some explicit traits that go along with being my age that came about as a result of those life experiences mentioned earlier. Let’s take for example the fact that many of my generation (including myself) are extremely careful by nature. We just want to take things one step at a time and make sure we don’t make a mistake.
There are lots of reasons for this but to give you a specific case in point I can tell you that one of them might be that we grew up during a time when there was no such things as The Pill. I bet you youngsters never realized why we are so cautious. It is a learned behavior from way back. Another character trait or flaw, depending on how you look at it, is that we older gents can be extremely suspicious of stuff that is going on in the world around us.
Take the ridiculous price of gas today. When I was coming along it took $5 to fill up my beloved 1968 Mustang with gas. I can’t make three laps around my yard on the lawnmower today for five bucks. I am absolutely certain that the gas companies are entwined in a web of collusion with the government to force these prices higher and higher.
Either that or it’s a Commie plot. Because of our distrustful nature many of us thought the original moon landing was a fake. The irony of that is we very much believe in UFO’s and that Area 51 is still holding aliens but that there is no way we put a man on the moon. Mistrust is our middle name. As we continue to examine these differences let’s point to another well-documented fact.
We old guys are much easier to please than the current crop of young whipper-snappers. One of the reasons for this is that we grew up when there was a grand total of three TV channels available for viewing (if the rabbit ears on your set were working properly). If the President decided to make a speech during prime time it meant we wouldn’t be watching Flipper or anything else for that matter.
If TV suddenly reverted to that situation today there would be mass hysteria, rampant discontent and protests or full blown riots in front of the HBO studios. The list of differences goes on – endlessly – and those dissimilarities each affect the generations in a variety of ways.
For example the present crop of youngsters have frozen foods and we didn’t. That could arguably account for the rise in current divorce rates. Men don’t like frozen broccoli. Young folks today have credit cards and we didn’t. That one thing might have been the major cause of the recent recession and all the foreclosures.
The present generation has the advantages of modern medicine like penicillin and we didn’t. I’m not even going there on a cause and effect scenario. Another thing worth mentioning is the differences in how people thought then and now. We thought that if it was made in Japan it was junk.
That does not seem to be the prevailing school of thought today. We thought grass was what you mowed, Coke was a cold drink and pot was what you cooked grits in. Unfortunately those are no longer the first pictures that pop into people’s minds today. I don’t know if we were just not smart enough or just too smart not to have thought of commuter marriages, computer dating or surgically changing one’s gender from a boy to a girl but my gut tells me that those were not positive steps forward in our cultural history.
To be fair I remember the faces on my mom and dad when I came home from my first stint in college. Their nice clean cut son had suddenly grown long stringy hair (which was a salute to my hero Pete Maravich) and a pair of mutton chop side burns (a tribute to another hero – Earl “The Pearl” Monroe) and they were beyond horrified.
Their response to that situation was that I was not allowed to sit at the supper table with them until the situation was remedied. After my lonely meal I was banished to the back of the house but I could still hear the discussion that went something along these lines: “This younger generation is going straight to the dogs.” You can e-mail comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org