A Generation Gap?
By Emily Nussbaum
(from an American point of view)
It's been a long time since there was a true generation gap, perhaps 50 years-you have to go back to the
early years of rock and roll, when old people still talked about "jungle rhythms." Everything associated
with that music and its greasy, shaggy culture felt baffling and divisive, from the crude slang to the
dirty thoughts it was rumored to trigger in little girls. That musical divide has all but disappeared.
But in the past ten years, a new set of values has sneaked in to take its place, erecting another
barrier between young and old. And as it did in the fifties, the older generation has responded with a
disgusted, dismissive squawk. It goes something like this:
"Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores,
pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry-for God's sake,
their dirty photos!-online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant
messages. They are interested only in attention-and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like
hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another."
"When it is more important to be seen than to be talented, it is hardly surprising that the less gifted
among us are willing to fart our way into the spotlight," sneers Lakshmi Chaudhry in the current issue
of The Nation. "Without any meaningful standard by which to measure our worth, we turn to the public eye
Clay Shirky, a 42-year-old professor of new media at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program,
who has studied these phenomena since 1993, has a theory about that response. "Whenever young people are
allowed to indulge in something old people are not allowed to, it makes us bitter. What did we have? The
mall and the parking lot of the 7-Eleven? It sucked to grow up when we did! And we're mad about it now."
People are always eager to believe that their behavior is a matter of morality, not chronology, Shirky
argues. "You didn't behave like that because nobody gave you the option."
c. 370 words
Source: New York Magazine News & Features
1. Can you remember a generation gap that has affected you?
If not, find out on the Internet why the generation gap that took place 50 years ago could develop?
2. According to your observations, do today's children really have 'no sense of privacy'?
3. Are today's kids only interested in attention, but have 'no attention span'?
4. If the negative picture of today's kids as described in the text above is true, have their parents/teachers
failed to educate them properly?