The generations are changing

I suspect this may not seem radical to some, but I was given a different perspective on this when I read a book called "You lost me - Why young Christians are leaving church ... and rethinking faith" by David Kinnaman. He explains that whereas generations broadly follow the same stages as the previous generation, albeit slightly differently each time, those born in the last two decades of the 20th century are fundamentally different from earlier generations.

I was quite relieved to hear this. What I saw in my own incredible children caused me to wonder if I was going crazy (or for those who know me, crazier). There's a fundamental change brought about by modern technology. It's created a different environment, and those who weren't around earlier have as much trouble understanding us as we do them.

A simple example: when I was young, we didn't have a telephone. Remember telegrams for emergencies? So if we wanted someone to come for dinner, we'd write to them - or if they lived in our town we might ask them when we ran into them at the shops - or cycle round to deliver an invitation. So it was arranged and in due course we'd have a meal together. Trying to pin our children down to something in advance is quite a challenge, despite vastly improved communication technology. Until I read this book, I saw this as rude - and yet I knew our children weren't rude. Now so much makes sense - at least of a kind.

One way of thinking isn't inherently better or worse than the other - both have strengths and weaknesses. For example modern thinking is much more oriented toward consensus - a generally positive thing. But it is often narrowed - tolerance being conditional on sharing similar views on some matters some see as fixed. Those who hold different views are often shown little tolerance. Such a thing (the tolerant being intolerant) only makes sense when we realise that, just as in Animal Farm (George Orwell), the meaning of language is being redefined. Sadly people - especially the young enthusiastic zealots of today are totally unaware of this - even when they have read Animal Farm.

So modern young people tend to be more open and flexible on many traditional values - something often lacking in those of us brought up in a different world. But many seem to lack the ability to commit to something. This not only applies to coming for a meal, but to things some of us regard as fixed - such as loans. I don't know how this will work out in the bigger picture - but I'm starting to see some options.

One that intrigues me is the idea of the virtual nomad. There is no doubt that the traditional model of payment for time is ineffective as shown by the vast wealth of the world (50%) controlled by so few (1%). But whether these people can do something sustainable is yet to be tested. Certainly there are a small number who seem naturally suited to it. My own remodelled accounting services in a small way incorporate a few of the elements. But it will be interesting to see what happens in the future - watch this space as they say.

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Last modified: 28 November 2020.