Generation wars: myth or reality?
Is the ‘conversation between generations’ coming to an end? In order for the young to inherit the knowledge and values of a society, they have to be able to talk to their elders. But today, the long-standing reciprocal relationship between the old and young appears to be at breaking point.Some argue that older generations have betrayed their children by voting for Brexit (in contrast, polls claim that the young unanimously voted Remain). As a result, some argue that there is a new generation war on the horizon – a ‘youthquake’ with young fighting the old. This idea has become so influential that the term ‘youthquake’ was the Oxford Dictionary’s ‘word of the year’ in 2017. This suggestion has worried others – United for All Ages, a self-proclaimed ‘think and do tank’, argues that we need to rebuild a community which coheres across generations.
Some argue that this ‘war’ is inspired by economic differences between the generations. Young people are said to be jealous of their parents’ affluence and privilege. Friction over home ownership has left some questioning whether millennials are simply waiting for their parents to die in order to inherit the deeds to the family home. This seeming loss of traditional familial love has led to the suggestion by the Intergenerational Foundation that the solution is for the older generation to downsize their homes or to subdivide their properties to tackle the housing crisis. Can the ‘generation gap’ be closed by ‘shared spaces’ or is this another solution to a problem that could be easily overcome by simply building more affordable homes?
Have the old really become selfish and the young cruel? Or is this just hype by those who want to create a generation war? Does it describe a new era of politics where the older generations simply cannot understand the principles and values of the young in the 21st Century? Or do we just need to talk to each other?