A Critique of the “In My Day” Mindset

A Critique of the “In My Day” Mindset

Do older generations think less of younger ones?



I often wonder when older and younger generations will stop feuding. Boomers will “never get it.” Millennials and Gen Zers “won’t ever understand the struggle.” Then, in some 30 years, players in this never-ending generational warfare will simply take on new positions.


Still, you’ll meet the occasional cool mom, hip dad, spicy aunt and in-with-the-times uncle. So, if “kids will be kids,” are we doomed to repeat the cycle with every new era? We asked people from different generations what they think.


@champagnecruze 8am calls are Criminal —Which one are you? #generations #corporate #workhumor #workfromhome #relateable ♬ Spongebob Tomfoolery – Dante9k Remix – David Snell


RELATED: What Success Means for Different Generations


Your day vs. our day

For every gripe from the younger generation comes the all-too-familiar “In my day…” Of course, kids “those days” are nothing like kids “these days.” But are kids getting “better” or “worse” over time?


According to 58-year-old filmmaker Mike, “Everything ‘back in the day’ was different: from values to technology. Especially technology. My lens probably will lay heavy on how technology had us built differently from the next generation. I lived through an analog time, where generally, everything had us wait longer: landline phones, the library, the news, film processing, the way we viewed movies or television series, even the way we had to work our way up in our careers. I am not saying we are much better because of this, but it gave us a different perspective in adulthood.”


Now, analog is making a clear comeback. Mike gets it but not every boomer does. According to researcher John Protzko, 84% of developmental psychologists predicted kids would get “worse” over time. Yet, only 16% were correct. The Stanford marshmallow experiment, which measures delayed gratification, proves the opposite. Apparently, younger generations are pretty patient, given that they’re rewarded tremendously. 


Thankfully, other representatives from the older generation, like 52-year-old quality control manager Gel, are deeply aware of the disparity, which is one step closer to ending this seemingly eternal battle. Gel says, “Both sides have misconceptions about each other. Boomers/Gen Xers think that the younger generation [is] lazy and lacks discipline, while Gen Z/Millennials think that Boomers/Gen Xers are stubborn in their ways or beliefs and are unwilling to adapt to new things.”



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So are younger generations more entitled?

If you were to ask a Millennial or Gen Zer their least favorite descriptor, you’d likely hear answers like “entitled,” “lazy” and “spoiled.” How accurate these descriptors are ultimately depends on how opposing generations experience each other. 


Just-turned-60 freelance executive producer Lizzie believes some “in my day” claims are true, and it shines a fascinating light on the concept of “young generation narcissism.” Lizzie tells us, “Back in my day, there was no such thing [as] entitlement.  You earned your perks or had to wait for special occasions to be given things over and above the basics. And my generation was fine with that…It never occurred to me that I was owed more than I already had…It did, however, spark a hunger in me to someday be able to provide life’s fineries to myself and my family. It made me more ambitious and hardworking. So I’m a proud member of the ‘I worked hard for what I have’ club.”


Does this mean younger generations don’t work as hard? Not necessarily. 27-year-old tech writer Toni believes the concept of work effort has much to do with information and how we access it. “We aren’t lazy. Thanks to the Internet, we get the answers we need two, three, four times faster. Thanks to technology, we get things done two, three, four times faster, and I think we’re unnecessarily faulted for it.” 


23-year-old fresh graduate Roro is hopeful about older generations being more open to inevitable changes and acknowledges an evident learning curve. However, her experience with generational gaps isn’t perfect. Roro tells us, “There are so many behaviors and thinking patterns they must unlearn. The biggest example is when Boomers ask, ‘What will you do next?’ regarding my job search. There’s a huge expectation for me to get a job instantly and start earning money to provide for myself and give back to my family. Whenever I tell people I’m taking a break, I’m always met with a long pause and a disapproving look before they say it’s ‘okay.’”


Busting generational myths and crossing bridges

Despite the occasional moment of being on the same wavelength, generations are constantly taking stabs at one another. Yet, depicting generational habits should be more akin to using astrology—subjective, productively and with a grain of salt.


Fortunately for Lizzie, hope isn’t dead. She tells us, “The generation gaps used to be a difference of 50 years…It’s almost bizarre for me, to be honest. And I find that the labels put out there cause divisions where there should be understanding and compassion; disrespect where there should be an honoring of wisdom gleaned from the former. Change, as they say, is inevitable. It is my wish that we fill in the gaps with respect.”


Toni corroborates this thinking: “Generational gaps aren’t black and white. We’ll always try to satisfy our biases because we don’t want to be wrong. But the sooner we accept that there are some things we’ll never align on, the sooner we’ll move on gracefully.” 


Even today, Gel’s biggest gripe is this: “Being called the ancient one at work. LOL. Which I know is just good old friendly office ribbing.” Otherwise, it is what it is.


@jakelambertcomedy Different Generation’s Childhoods #generations #millennial #genx #funny #vlog ♬ original sound – Jake Lambert Comedy


What will friendships across different generations look like?

On the seemingly bleak generational separations, Mike says, “There will always be tensions between generations simply because of how the world and humans evolve…I also believe that the disparity or tension is more prominent because of how tech has changed our lives so fast, like from the advent of the internet and social media.”


He further adds, “It doesn’t allow for the proper development of human relationships, which need pauses for reflection. We’re expected to be forever tethered to each other because technology dictates it…In my young adult life, I always had this strange curiosity for what others were doing as I lived my life. Like now, somewhere, someone across thousands of miles will be doing something else, falling in love, getting into a fight or winning a tennis match. A celebrity or sports idol is actually living and breathing at the same time as I am. This curiosity was bottled and sold to us as social media.”


The bottom line

One day, Millennials and Gen Zers will be the next Gen Xers and Boomers. On another day, none of these generations will exist. Maybe there’ll always be a divide, but it won’t have to be stark and bursting with judgment. 


Mike leaves us with a poignant note: “[How generations interact] is analogous to film franchises spanning decades. Each iteration's makers will think theirs is the better one. That there is canon for each film. Each production wants to do something different, which may be appreciated, despised or brave. There will be characters that we will love, and we will hate. Ultimately, we turn up for the films because of family. After all, we all grew up with JarJar Binks.”



Words Zoë Isabela Alcazaren

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