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A Generation Removed

Have you ever had the sense that you're old? Not necessarily that you are old, but that your ideas, values, and traditions are old? I do, I get that a lot. I feel young at heart, but when I see some of the behaviours of today's youth, I feel like I'm from another generation... and I guess, in a sense, I am.

Of most people I've asked who are my age or a little bit older, when I've asked about their grandparents, many of them are still alive. Their great-grandparents or sometimes even their great-great-grandparents were born in the early 1900s, or the late 1890s. My grandfather was born in the year 1900, and my grandmother not long afterwards. I am a full generation removed from others my own age, and in some cases maybe two generations removed.

I really do think this has made me different, and has directly affected my upbringing, my morals and values. I have a theory, and I know it's not unique - I believe that we are very much a product of our parents' upbringing. Likewise, they are a product of their parents' upbringing.

I do think that social interactions and societal norms will also have an influence, but we typically start out as being how our parents have raised us. Then we change - sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically - with each environmental exposure. As each generation passes into the next, their parents' morals, values, and traditions get a little bit more watered down; they get a little bit weaker. The original convictions that inspired the practiced behaviours are just not as strong as in the previous generation.

I am two generations removed from my grandfather - a man who was born in 1900. I know people who's great-great-grandfathers were born in the late 1890s. That's four generations removed. I am thus two generations closer to being raised with the morals, values and traditions of someone born in 1900.

It's made a difference. The most notable one, is in my proximity to those who lived through the Great Depression. It has been my observation, that the people who have the most trouble getting rid of things, are people who were strongly influenced by the Depression.

Back then, you just didn't throw things out. You kept them, in case you needed them one day. You accumulated stuff, and people didn't have a lot of stuff. Everything was precious. They learned to save. They had to save in order to make it through those times... and they passed on this value to their children. The importance of saving.

It's shown up in their children in so many different ways. The time of plenty followed after the war, and "things" became plentiful. And they weren't thrown out. It eventually became a problem for that generation. They had too much stuff. The talk shows and the reality shows became a huge hit on helping people to get rid of their stuff. Teaching them that not everything needs to be kept. Teaching them that it's ok to let things go. Somehow this has spawned a new generation of people who think that everything is disposable, but that's another story.

But that difference, is where you can really see how much more closely I've kept with my parents' and grandparents' values in terms of saving. In terms of stuff. I have that problem of wanting to keep everything. I know though, that I can't... but the waste of it bothers me so much. What if we need it one day? All that money that is literally thrown away...

It's hard to watch the waste sometimes, but I just have to remind myself of from where I've come. I am a generation removed... and that explains a lot.



I have written this entry for the Home Game of therealljidol for Week 30 - Season 7, Prompt #2. Home Game entries are here and current contestant entries are here for those who wish to read more. In fact, I strongly encourage it - we're down to the top 6! This vote determines the finalists where the bottom two are eliminated!

And of course, my favourite - joeymichaels' LJI Week #30 Links
Safety In Numbers - Atrophy - Disappointment - Road Trip - Get Over Yourself - Divine Intervention

If you read nothing else, you should read joeymichaels' entries, because he is seriously one hell of a writer, and I know he'd appreciate the traffic exposure, and would really like the comments.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
java_fiend
Jul. 2nd, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I feel like I'm not just from another generation but from another planet entirely when I watch today's youth. Wow does that make me sound like a cranky old man.

It's true though... as you say... morals and values do seem to get more watered down with each passing generation. I look at just how kids dress today for example... and even though I'm not *that* old, I can never imagine kids I went to school with dressing like the kids do today. I shudder to think what it will be like two or three generations from now.

A very interesting and thought-provoking post! Thanks for writing this. :-)
sharya
Jul. 2nd, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
And thank you for coming by to read it!

I sort of suspect that the morals and values will also have to do with the proximity to first hand experiences. Since history has a tendency to repeat itself, I would not be surprised to find them returning in later generations, only to begin anew the cycle of them being watered down again.
java_fiend
Jul. 7th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
You very well might be right about things being cyclical. Though I do hope when the cycle begins anew, we don't find ourselves stuck with the morality of the Puritans! Now that could be scary. :-)
phaedie
Jul. 2nd, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
Empathy towards other living creatures seems to be dying out.
I have no idea where I got my morals and values, with thought I can see the depression stuff you mentioned but a lot of who I am came from books I absorbed instead of having social interaction or a family.
sharya
Jul. 2nd, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
This newer generation is certainly very self-focused with a high sense of entitlement - it seems very much to be all about - "what's in it for me?"

Hopefully it won't take long for that attitude to be watered down!

You know, I wonder if someone like yourself, who did a lot of reading and found books to be their primary influence, if they had mostly read books written in a certain time-period, if they would find themselves with similar values and morals of that time period?

It's all very interesting - thank you for coming by to read!
phaedie
Jul. 2nd, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
A lot of the books I read were British of origin as well which would have an effect. Think you are correct about the time period when I think of the stuff I devoured in my early years. :)
Made me think, thanks. :)
sharya
Jul. 2nd, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
LoL so now I'm all curious... what time period were the books you devoured in your early years? :P

Maybe this is one of the reasons you and I click so well - we're old souls :)
comedychick
Jul. 4th, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
I relate to so much of this. My parents were older than the average when they had me (Mum was 29, Dad was 35), and I think at least Dad's parents were also similar. And... yeah, I have a hard time throwing things out as well. I still have toys from when I was a kid that I kept to pass on to my children.
sharya
Jul. 4th, 2011 07:32 am (UTC)
Yes, same in my case - my grandparents were quite a bit older - my father was also the youngest child in his family, and then both my parents were quite a bit older when they had me, so yeah... it's amazing how in the same time-frame, other families can go through an extra two generations! Oi!

I had an attic of stuff I had to go through - a lot of it ended up being unusable :/
comedychick
Jul. 4th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
It is interesting that you brought it up because it hadn't occurred to me at all that that could've contributed to the fact I feel like I act older than most other people my own age, why I get along with more people who're older than me, and so on.

Having said that, now that the average age of when people start families is going up, it'll be interesting to see what kind of effect that has in a couple of generations, too.
sharya
Jul. 4th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
It will be interesting - on one hand we are far more exposed to outside ideas than we used to be in our grandparents' time, but then again, we are slowing the rate of reproduction, and as well we are living longer.

It will definitely make for an interesting mix!
mstrobel
Jul. 5th, 2011 08:45 am (UTC)
it's amazing how in the same time-frame, other families can go through an extra two generations!

And then things get wonky! That makes me think of a couple of Christmases ago when we had dinner with my cousins. My mother's brother's oldest son and daughter, who are both about 20 years older than me. When the "adults" were talking, I ended up playing with my 10- and 12-year old second cousins and feel much more a part of their generation than the one above!
sharya
Jul. 5th, 2011 02:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's a strange things when the generations get so out of whack in the same family - same as with nieces/nephews being older than uncles/aunts!
lawchicky
Jul. 4th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
I'm much in the same ballpark as you, and I was talking to the hubby about this a couple of days ago. My grandparents are children of the 1920s (grandpa born in 20 and grandma in 24). I grew up spending most of my time with them and adopted a lot of their ideas about saving and treasuring things. I am trying to let some things go with limited to moderate results. I know I have too much stuff, but I have what I refer to as "waster's guilt."

I have a lot easier time getting rid of things if I can find them a new home where someone else can use/enjoy them. I can tell you though, sometimes I give different relatives (ahem-inlaws-cough cough) gifts, and I know they wind up in the trash at some point and it actually angers me (ie all the toys I gave to BIL when he was a kid- good stuff, but they don't believe in holding onto things even when they're in perfect condition).
sharya
Jul. 4th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
YES! This is it exactly! I need to find all my things new homes, and I need to not have my brain explode when I hear about things being tossed out.

Waster's Guilt is an excellent term for it! Did you coin that?
mstrobel
Jul. 5th, 2011 08:41 am (UTC)
Oooh I loved this :)

Both of my grandparents were born in 1910. They were both over 70 when I was born so to be in school with people whose grandparents were in their 60s was odd for me - 60 is not old, 60 is not grandparent age!

And I know in a lot of ways I'm a bit old-fashioned. Not just my music and film tastes but just the way I often think about things.

Same too with wanting to keep everything! I've always kept silly things "just in case"; throwing out stuff is hard, man.
sharya
Jul. 5th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
Throwing things out is so hard!

I'm just amazed (and somewhat horrified, truth be told) by people who can just casually toss something in good condition, into the garbage.

The thing that I have the most trouble with, is books :/ Books and toys - particularly toys that may be a little bit broken but still usable.

Thank you so much for coming by to read!
mstrobel
Jul. 5th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
Omg no, I could never throw out a book! That's what second hand shops are for... for toys as well. And clothes. Something has to be totally falling apart before I'll actually bin it. And sometimes, not even then if there's nostalgia value too! Heh, I grew up playing with one doll whose legs were stickytaped together and another whose arm was superglued in place... the idea of tossing them out was/is ludicrous.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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