Through chatting we discovered (and cringed) at one being 25 years old and another 20. And last week, while discussing sports injuries (from which I'm immune) we discovered another one is 19 years old. 19! They even made a song about her back in the eighties.
This discovery brought the cringe factor to new peaks. I mean, what do these people think about me? It is the first time I hold an adult to adult conversation with a person who has a generational advantage on me; I'm used to it going the other way, but now I am The Old Guy.
Perhaps the best place to start is me looking at the way I used to regard older generations back when I was a child [I wanted to use the term bar*ly le*al, but that would attract the wrong audience to this post].
Well, I grew up in an environment filled with people who lived through World War 2, Holocaust survivors, and people who fought Israel's various existential wars - from its war to achieve independence (1947-1948) through the Six Day War (1967) and Yom Kippur / October War (1973). As one can imagine, each of those was a big deal, certainly bigger than anything I had experienced. Yes, even bigger than September 11. You can see what September 11 did to our world; imagine what those events did to their world and the impression it left on them. So yeah, it would be damn hard for me to relate to them and for them to relate to me.
And now I stand sipping coffee with people too young to have proper recollections of even September 11. Where does that leave us? Can a bridge be found that would allow us to connect?
I would argue that, while we can chat and all, we would never be able to relate to one another the way each of us can relate to people of their generation, growing up in the same culture, listening to the same music, et al. We have just been wired too differently.
One can see this on a regular basis. Take, on one hand, the grandparent that doesn't know a thing about technology, or the kid that complains they're bored the second their iPad battery dies on the other hand. Or note how racism is not even considered a thing to be ashamed of with the older generations.
One cannot escape the conclusion our world is changing too quickly for us to catch up. One day that currently 19 year old waitress will face a much younger adult who won't dig her, either.