This month, The Suburban Times’ columnist and author Susanne Bacon is the special guest on the Generation Gap podcast, available on the internet now and until the end of time. This show, hosted by Dorothy Wilhelm, explores the “Generation Gap.” The term describes how young and older people seem to inhabit very different worlds, that are separated by different skills and abilities and outlook, based on when they were born and came to maturity. Also on this month’s show, are co-host Ray Miller Still, editor of the Courier Herald of Enumclaw, and Kathryn Miller Still, an educator who teaches at the Puyallup Tribal School, both are Millenials.
Susanne Bacon says that she is part of Generation X, which is called the Peace Generation in Germany, as theirs was the generation that came after the WWII rebuilding. Her parents and grandparents lost everything in the war. “They rebuilt Germany and their lives”, she said.
The podcast discussion revolves around why English words may have a simple, non-threatening meaning for one generation and a completely different negative meaning for an earlier or later one.Listen to “Generation Gap – Uncomfortable Subjects- Ray Miller-Still & Dorothy Wilhelm,” on Spreaker.
Wilhelm, a member of The Silent Generation, pointed out that the term didn’t mean members didn’t talk much but that since this was the generation after The Greatest, the Silent Generation, didn’t make waves, didn’t ask questions, didn’t protest. And possibly because of that fact, it’s often harder for members of that generation to talk about some subjects even today. The question of the day is what topics the other panelists find uncomfortable. “When I was young,” Wilhelm said, “women didn’t have bodies (to talk about). The stork brought you a baby and you took it, and that was that,” Kathryn, the Millenial, said that teaching young people has “taught me to sit with my discomfort.” She adds, “Gen Z has a sort of ‘Embrace the darkness attitude.’”
“I have no difficulty talking about anything” Susanne Bacon said.
Quotes from this month’s show
“There’s a dog in the studio. There’s never been a dog in the studio before.”
“You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable” –
“Things have changed. Mommy’s in therapy, Millenials are on Twitter.”
“When I was young, women didn’t have bodies.”
“We’re engaged in the search for a better future: the will to keep what is ours, ours.”
Generation Gap can be found at any time at www.mygenerationgap.com or wherever you find your favorite podcast.
Susanne Bacon says
Thank you for having me on the show, Dorothy! I had such a good time with all of you, and I loved the topic, “Uncomfortable Subjects”. It really set me thinking.
As to my generation – I found that it is in Germany just what Ray called it, too, Generation X. The “Peace Generation” thing was a name I came up with (yes, I am imaginative sometimes when I need to describe something better than calling it X). Some call us “Nachkriegsgeneration” (generation after the war) or “Kriegsenkel” (war grandchildren); but I prefer thinking forward not backward – and we were born and raised through peaceful times even though the Cold War was on our doorstep.
As to the show – I can only recommend to listen in! The topics are manifold, the moderation is professional and witty, and the guests … I have never NOT enjoyed any of my co-speakers. I’m pretty sure you will take away something from every single show!
Generation gaps and complaints about them are nothing new. Even Socrates had his misgivings of them:
“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
Just goes to show that nothing changes over generations. “C’est plus la change, c’est plus la meme chose.” Gen Z will likely be complaining of the next generation as they age…And so on…
Wow Dorothy. A bit of a defensive email from you? It’s just an observation.
I’ll elaborate for you Dorothy.
Uncomfortable subject for you? You sound like a misandrist based on your email to me. I take umbrage of “your use of a single French phrase” too. I grew up in France and Germany, so I know more than 1 phrase and language. You’re right: we haven’t met, and probably never will. Your Twitter account says, “The real experts among us are not the ones with fancy titles.” I don’t have any fancy titles, so I must be an expert. Nope. No one is; we’re all learning, because education is a neverending process. So relax. Anytime someone talks about “generation gaps,” Socrates always comes to my mind first. A simple observation. Sheesh!
Ah Dorothy. You made so many assumptions about me from your emails and none of them are right. I never said succeeding generations are hopeless and neither did Socrates. He observed that they’re “different” from his, but all generations are, really, the same. The older generations just deny they were like that.
I know your “generation gap” talked about different family circumstances, but those have been practised with my people for generations. (Another curveball for you?) Yes, my people, as in American Indian. So that discussion isn’t new, not with us. I love, fully support, and encourage my daughter, who is lesbian, in all her endeavours. Sometimes she does things I don’t agree with, but I don’t tell her she’s hopeless as you implied. She’s learning and sometimes experience is the best teacher.
Perhaps your next talk should be about making poor assumptions, like you did with me. Your background may prove to be the catalyst for that. (And that goes with your premise of that talk.) I consider myself to be fairly open minded, though, not completely, as I don’t want my brains falling out. Comes with age I suppose, but also upbringing and exposure to other cultures.
I’ll paste your emails to me for anyone else reading through the comments to get the full context.
First email from my initial post:
“Show me a guy who drops an unnecessary French phrase in comment, and I’ll show you a guy who only knows one French phrase.
Yes, J.C. I’m familiar with that quote from Socrates. I have a son who is a professor of ancient languages. However, you jumped the gun in assuming the this was a show of complaints and ;put downs. I guess we haven’t met.
My thought is that all of us, like it or not, are very much influenced by when and where and how we grew up. And because of our
predispositions, that often keeps up from understanding each other, just at this time when understanding matters so much. Of course it will be the same with the next generations, but it’s hard for me to see how that changes the very real need to understand each other now.
Second email to my response of first email:
“So was mine, my friend. Always glad have a reader I can have little fun with.
I read your remark as being “the younger generation is hopeless, always was, always will be.” As the mother of six, that always gets my attention.
But that wasn’t what you were saying?”
Third email to my response to second email:
” Well I can’t tell if we’re having fun or not. You do understand that you’re misreading what I say, quite as much as you say I am misreading your statements?
You’ve never once asked, is this what you meant? Plus, the whole point of Generation Gap is to provide clarity to older people so they won’t dismiss younger people by saying what’s wrong with them.
And to enable younger people too have some idea of where we’re coming from and how we’ve been filtered through our life experience. Of course people we love will do things we don’t like
And we will do things people we love don’t like.
My point, and the only point of Generation Gap is that if we understood each other better, we might do better.
Can we agree on that as a starting point?”
Here we go again…Having fun indicates people are enjoying themselves. I thought you wanted a serious and frank discussion about generations following your first email to my initial post. First, you lambast me of gender, education, languages, and upbringing. Then, you accuse me of name calling younger generations and refer to me as “[your] friend.” It doesn’t work that way. A friend is someone I have known for years and trust; I don’t take that lightly. I can count my friends on my fingers and some toes; a small group so I can remember names. (And there are a lot of names to remember…family, immediate and extended, and colleagues and coworkers. I’ve had over a dozen jobs so far in my life and unless they wear a nametag, I don’t bother to remember names due to compartmentalizing work from personal life.) You got nothing right of your accusations, so no, I haven’t misread you. I saw your Twitter account and unless you mistitled them, then no, again, I read them right and responded accordingly.
In your first email: “… you jumped the gun in assuming the this was a show of complaints and ;put downs.” followed by your last: ” the whole point of Generation Gap is to provide clarity to older people so they won’t dismiss younger people by saying what’s wrong with them.” sounds rather contradictory. The Socrates quote is clearly relevant. I understand people make assumptions and have biases and prejudices. Communication and listening are keys to understanding differences, as well as their own stances; however, unless exposure to those differences on more than a brief encounter and wider array is done, people will cling to what they’ve experienced and internalised. I see that with your assumptions about me, hence the suggestion for introspection. Younger generations who dismiss or ignore older generations is just as much of a faulty logical fallacy as older generations doing the same. (This is the crux of the arguments.) No where did I say the youth are hopeless as you claim. As a parent of 5 and grandparent of 3, I hope they have a better life than we did, as they are our future. I applaud your limited efforts in attempting to bridge the gap, but understanding between, among, and across generations takes effort among all the generations and needs a broader expansion vice local. This isn’t likely to happen due to cultural, language, and ideological value differences, but I wish you the best in your efforts.
“JC honey you need a hobby. You might reflect that perhaps there’s better use for your time than excoriating a lady who is nearly 90 years old and so probably won’t change that much.
If you have nothing better to do, I do.
This will be my final response. Unless you want an actual, balanced discussion.”
Ah yes, the ad hominem fallacy. You can dish it, but not take it. Age should not be used as an excuse. It’s your perception that it’s not “balanced,” but seeing as many points of views to your own is a balanced one. That’s called discussion. So you’re doing exactly as you had proposed to eliminate in better understanding generations by dismissing me. Got it.
And I have several hobbies, thank you very much. I’ll leave you with Samuel Clemmons: “The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.” Thanks for the discussion. Good luck.
“We had a minute there when we could have talked and started to understand each other.
It would have worked like this. If we could have agreed that it’s important to understand each other, and I would ask, what you Would like me to understand about you, and I would tell you what I’d like you to understand about me. Playing you said and I said is useless. For one thing, emailing, dashing things off the top isn’t conducive to understanding.
Well, JC – guess we have to face it. Looks like we’re not going to be friends.
Have you asked your dog how he feels about you!”
You started by tearing into me with your comments on my thoughts (and likely some others) when I hear “generation gap” and used Socrates’ quote, then proceeded to berate me with foreign language use. Am I supposed to just take the insults? I don’t think so. I posted your emails, so people can follow the path of conversation. I originally posted in the public forum (and continue to do so), so I’m not sure why you don’t; otherwise, others who may be interested or have differing opinions can chime in. I’m willing to listen. Who knows, maybe even change my mind on some subjects.
I simply stated your project is limited. I was hoping you’d expand it to other parts of the country. Maybe you misinterpreted that? Well, I think I’ve clarified that for you now. I find it an interesting subject with varying topics to discuss.
Actually, we do agree that it’s important to try and understand others, but that involves give and take. Relating experiences as well as listening to others’ experiences. It’s a very open broad subject and encompasses numerous aspects. I’ve never liked the term “generation gap” though, I prefer experience differences. Everyone has their own and they seem to be interesting. Some more than others, but no one can truly understand what others have gone through. It would be like mind reading or getting into someone else’s head–not possible.
And I like reading Susan Bacon’s articles, especially about foods. I can almost smell the German foods she mentions. Ah, nostalgia. It’s a wonderful thing and being able to share life stories would take a lifetime. My kids know some of my life experiences and maybe one day, the grandkids. I’ve had neighbour kids hang around me asking about my life and they seemed fascinated. It’s just different from what they were experiencing, that’s all.
And to answer your last snarky comment: My dogs love me. They hate it when I have to go to work or do something without them and are overjoyed when I’m there. Not because of food or treats, but because they know they’re just as important as other family members.
So I thought you weren’t going to respond anymore. I guess I can continue with Myrna Tellingheusen’s tweets then and get a few laughs in. Enjoy.