IS THERE A GENERATION GAP ?
In my previous two blogs , I had discussed the relationship between the gender and emotions. In the next two blogs , I would discuss the notion of generation gap. Although , this notion has several sociological and psychological connotations , I would focus only on two aspects of the notion of generation gap. In this blog , I would discuss whether our emotions really change from one generation to the next ? In the following blog , I would discuss whether a novelist ought to write a novel with a view of appealing to one particular generation ? In both these blogs , my focus would be on the creative process of writing a fiction. In other words , I would not be discussing the sociological aspects of the generation gap but I would only discuss how this notion influences the the content and the context of a novel. Of course , I would talk about my own experience of writing novels and particularly my second novel.
Admittedly , most of us feel that there is a marked difference between the likes , dislikes , attitudes and opinions between us and our children. This is , ironically , also true between us and our parents. This universal feeling has prompted us to believe in the idea of generation gap. The question , however , is how valid this idea of the generation gap is ? To the extent this term refers to social norms and attitudes , this is obviously true. However , beyond this , at the level of our mental make up , this term is not really valid. In fact , purely from the psychological point of view , there is no such thing as the generation gap. There are only different perceptions of reality. What actually happens is that the differences between any two generations arise due to different developmental stages of mind. Two individuals , belonging to two different age groups , have different cognitive abilities. In addition , these indivuals have different emotional dispositions. Therefore , what appears to be a generation gap is , in fact , ever shifting posturing between the two members of a family. These differences in attitudes and opinions are as much contextual as they are transient. The proof of this reasoning lies in the fact that with the passage of time the roles change. The youngster who may have been rebellious would , after passage of time , become a staunch conformist. The individual changes her /his side but the arguments remain constant. Of course , this scenario is broadly true and in every individual case , the details would vary.
In the present context , what is relevant is the fact that beneath this shifting attitudes there lies an emotional anchor. Therefore the correct question is whether there is any thing like emotional generation gap ? The answer , once again , is no. We undergo emotional changes as we grow old. Just as our emotions change , our attitudes and opinions change in accordance with our changed emotional landscape. In other words , our attitudes and opinions are faithful indicators of our emotional status. As and when our emotions change , there is corresponding change in our attitudes and opinions. In fact , our emotions are in a state of flux. This is visible in our nuanced attitudes and opinions. Every time we experience the same emotions in different context , our attitudes and opinions become more nuanced. Therefore the generation gap is an artifact created out of our ever changing emotions.
However , there is another factor that gives an appearance of permanence to this generation gap . As we grow old , our ability to experience emotions gets atrophied. Since our sensibility gets benumbed with aging , our attitudes and opinions harden. As we grow old , we tend to become rigid . It is this age induced inflexibility that ensures that the generation gap is more pronounced. If parents were to have emotional flexibility , there would be a generation gap ,but it would be more of difference of opinions than a generation gap.
In summary , one can say that the notion of generation gap is a reflection of divergent emotions that different generations experience. However , it is not permanent and it is not inevitable. The most important insight into this notion of generation gap is that it derives itself from the human emotions which are universal. Thus beneath this gap there exists a continuity of human emotions. Human emotions are same ,only our sensitivity to experience them changes. This universality of human emotions allows all of us , including individuals belonging to different generations , to form meaningful relationship with other individuals. Thus parents can form meaningful relationship with their children and vice versa. This may not eliminate the generation gap but it would provide a good bridge for mutual understanding.
I have found this perspective while writing my second novel. In my second novel , the protagonist ages during the narrative. Along with aging , the protagonist’s views changes from rationality to faith in the supernatural. The most surprising thing that I found was that his change from one extreme of rationality to the another extreme of irrational belief did not require any abrupt changes in his reasoning. The transition was marked with smooth and almost logical changes in his mindset. More importantly , this was brought about by the emotional underpinning of his unrequited love. While detailing his character, I realized that it is our emotions that alter our reasoning. We tend to justify our beliefs by putting out some logical arguments , whereas , in reality , our beliefs are shaped by our emotions. The generation gap may or may not be real but there exists a definitive gap between what we think and what we feel. Our beliefs bridge this gap between our emotions and our reasoning.
In my next blog , .I would discuss how this notion of generation gap affects the choice of fiction that we like. I would also discuss how can a novelist overcome this generation gap to reach wider readership.