The Big Read in short: From boomers to zoomers, are generational gaps exaggerated?

29/5/2022 8:00:00 AM

The Big Read in short: From boomers to zoomers, are generational gaps exaggerated?

Lgbtq, Climate Change

The Big Read in short: From boomers to zoomers, are generational gaps exaggerated?

SINGAPORE — When Diana, 31, became pregnant six years ago, her parents had insisted that she marry her then-boyfriend, who had proposed, and kept the baby.

Speaking to TODAY, the account strategist, who declined to give her full name, said she did not want to get married or have children. And since then, her parents have yet to let the matter rest and have over the years, called her “selfish” for doing so.

Over the years, researchers and popular media have coined terms to describe different demographic cohorts: The generation born during the post–World War II baby boom from 1946 to 1964 are widely known as"baby boomers", or"boomers" for short.

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reality is both should find common ground to work together instead of pointing fingers

South Korea wins big at Cannes Film Festival with Best Actor, Best Director awardsStar film-maker Park Chan-wook clinched the best director award for his erotic crime movie Decision To Leave while Song Kang-ho, best known for his role in the Oscar-winning Parasite, picked up the best actor gong for Broker.

The Big Read: Generational gap — a bridge too far or are we making too much of it?SINGAPORE — When Diana, 31, became pregnant six years ago, her parents had insisted that she marry her then-boyfriend, who had proposed, and kept the baby.

Chinese man hides wedding ring inside future wife’s Kindle device for 7 years until their big dayA young man’s decision to hide a wedding ring inside a Kindle device belonging to his future wife for seven years has gone viral in mainland China. The man, surnamed Liu, a self-proclaimed science geek from Sichuan Province, southwestern China, had hidden the wedding ring underneath the protective case of a new Kindle device he gave to his then-girlfriend as...

The Big Read: Generational gap — a bridge too far or are we making too much of it?SINGAPORE — When Diana, 31, became pregnant six years ago, her parents had insisted that she marry her then-boyfriend, who had proposed, and kept the baby.

TODAY goes LIVE: Is the generational gap real?From attitudes on LGBT issues, marriage and parenthood to environmental conservation and individualism vs collectivism, the perceived differences between the younger and older generations are well documented. Around the world, it has also been said that younger people want a bigger say in how things are ru Ooooh angabridged!

Evening Update: Today's headlines from The Straits Times on May 27. Read more at straitstimes.com.

LinkedIn SINGAPORE — When Diana, 31, became pregnant six years ago, her parents had insisted that she marry her then-boyfriend, who had proposed, and keep the baby.Park's Cannes entry came nearly two decades after his Oldboy which won the festival's second-highest prize in 2004.SINGAPORE — When Diana, 31, became pregnant six years ago, her parents had insisted that she marry her then-boyfriend, who had proposed, and keep the baby.Surprise! Man proposes to his girlfriend with a ring that’s been hidden inside her Kindle reading device for seven years.

But instead, she declined the proposal and had an abortion. Speaking to TODAY, the account strategist, who declined to give her full name, said she did not want to get married or have children. Park, 58, told the Cannes audience he was bullish about the future of movie-going. And since then, her parents have yet to let the matter rest and have over the years, called her “selfish” for doing so. And since then, her parents have yet to let the matter rest and have over the years, called her “selfish” for doing so. Like Diana, marketing executive Chong Xiu Yi, 26, has also been labelled as self-centred by her father, who is in his 60s and works in banking. We were very afraid of each and theatres were empty, but little by little, audiences will rediscover cinema," Park said. Ms Chong said her father, who came from a working-class background, believes that her generation enjoys a lot of privileges due to Singapore’s economic growth and rising educational standards, and therefore does not understand the value of hard work. “My husband had planned to keep the secret for 10 or 20 years, and he didn’t expect it to come out so fast,” Liu’s wife said on Weibo.

These conflicts — stemming from what seem to be generational differences — feel insurmountable for the pair whom TODAY spoke to, and have resulted in rifts within their families. NOT A ROMANTIC The detective story, which drew comparisons with the far more sexually explicit thriller Basic Instinct, increasingly meshes with the mutual attraction engulfing the main characters. “He has no empathy when I talk about how I have a lot of anxieties as a young person in a very fast-changing world, where all the things that worked for his generation don't work for us anymore to become as wealthy and successful as he has been,” said Ms Chong. And they are not alone in facing what appears to be a generational divide. Over the years, researchers and popular media have coined terms to describe different demographic cohorts: The generation born during the post–World War II baby boom from 1946 to 1964 are widely known as"baby boomers", or"boomers" for short. The film's mesmerising soundtrack includes the Adagietto in Gustav Mahler's 5th Symphony, immortalised in the 1971 movie Death In Venice by Luchino Visconti. Those born between 1965 and 1980 are called"Generation X", while those between 1981 and 1996 are"Generation Y" or"millennials". And they are not alone in facing what appears to be a generational divide. The latest generation to have come of working age is"Generation Z" or"zoomers", defined as those born between 1997 and 2012."That's what I wanted to represent in a movie," he said. She added: “When I asked him if he worried about me losing the Kindle, he answered he didn’t and thought how meaningful it would be if the ring could be kept inside for many, many years.

Whenever intergenerational animosity surfaces, barbs such as"boomers are out of touch","millennials are entitled" and"Gen Zs are softies" are often traded between the young and the old. These sweeping remarks not only divide generations but create differences where there are often none, said experts interviewed, because they lump millions of unique individuals together and put a label on them. The BBC called it a"cracking romantic thriller" and Britain's Screen magazine said it was a"deeply satisfying" tale. The latest generation to have come of working age is"Generation Z" or"zoomers", defined as those born between 1997 and 2012. Such labels then become an identifier for people born in different years. “ It is far better to understand generational change broadly as a process that is shaped by shared historical context, without trying to place labels and stereotypes through the use of arbitrary selected ranges of birth years. He plays a kind-hearted middle man trying to sell the infant to a loving family in the Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's first Korean-language feature. Asst Prof Shannon Ang, a sociologist at the Nanyang Technological University ” Sociologist Shannon Ang of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) said these generalisations are, for the most part, problematic. These sweeping remarks not only divide generations but create differences where there are often none, said experts interviewed, because they lump millions of unique individuals together and put a label on them. Oh my God, that’s super sweet.

The assistant professor said: “It is far better to understand generational change broadly as a process that is shaped by shared historical context, without trying to place labels and stereotypes through the use of arbitrary selected ranges of birth years. "I am very happy for my whole family," Song said as he accepted the trophy at the gala ceremony on the French Riviera.” A recent poll by the National Youth Council (NYC) found that about one in two respondents feel that intergenerational differences are an issue here, with higher agreement seen among youths. But these conflicts are not as serious or as pressing as other social issues, said respondents, though two in five agree that they could affect workplace relationships between colleagues and hinder common goals for Singapore’s progress. Song has made four films with Parasite director Bong Joon-ho including the 2006 monster flick The Host and Bong's first English-language film Snowpiercer, both of which were box office and critical smashes. Sociologist Shannon Ang of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) said these generalisations are, for the most part, problematic. The NYC Youth Sentiment Poll on Intergenerational Relations surveyed 700 Singaporeans earlier this month, comprising 500 respondents aged between 16 and 34, and 200 older respondents aged 35 and above. The poll also unveiled perceptions that each generation holds towards each other. Since then, he has appeared in more than 30 films and worked with top South Korean filmmakers including Park Chan-wook, Kang Je-gyu and Lee Chang-dong.

At least one in two non-youths describe the younger generation as “carefree, idealistic and entitled” while at least three in five youths view the older generation as “conservative, stubborn and hardworking”. But these conflicts are not as serious or as pressing as other social issues, said respondents, though two in five agree that they could affect workplace relationships between colleagues and hinder common goals for Singapore’s progress. Four in five youths also feel that the older generations are too fixed in their ways and traditions, while one in two non-youths feel that the younger generations are less resilient and have a short attention span. Source: AFP/yy. Raj Nadarajan/TODAY A recent poll by the National Youth Council (NYC) found that about one in two respondents feel that intergenerational differences are an issue here, with higher agreement seen among youths. Yet despite their perceptions of one another, the survey found that a majority in both groups see value in the other, particularly in bringing fresh perspectives — the older generation with their life experiences, and the younger generation with their creativity. At least one in two non-youths describe the younger generation as “carefree, idealistic and entitled” while at least three in five youths view the older generation as “conservative, stubborn and hardworking”. Such sentiments are also reflected in TODAY’s interviews with over 20 individuals across the different generations.

And while there is a clear generational difference in viewpoints — particularly on attitudes toward LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) issues, environmental conservation, individualism versus collectivism, as well as marriage and parenthood — there is, in some instances, common ground beneath the surface and an acknowledgement that there is much to learn from the different perspectives. LGBTQ ISSUES With the global push for awareness of LGBTQ issues intensifying in recent years, especially across social media, it comes as no surprise that overall acceptance of LGBTQ persons is high among youths. Such sentiments are also reflected in TODAY’s interviews with over 20 individuals across the different generations. This was also among the findings of the inaugural TODAY Youth Survey released last year , which polled 1,066 respondents between the ages of 18 and 35. In 2019, a door-to-door survey conducted by CNA, which involved over 1,200 respondents from different age groups, saw a divide between the groups on how they view LGBTQ issues. When asked if they agreed, disagreed or were neutral to not exposing their child to LGBTQ influences, 69. This was also among the findings of the inaugural TODAY Youth Survey released last year , which polled 1,066 respondents between the ages of 18 and 35.

8 per cent of baby boomers agreed. In contrast, only 39.6 per cent of millennials agreed.8 per cent of baby boomers agreed. Similarly, when the respondents were asked if they would have positive or negative emotions if their child were LGBTQ, 61.5 per cent of boomers indicated “negative” compared with 37.

5 per cent of millennials. Similarly, when the respondents were asked if they would have positive or negative emotions if their child were LGBTQ, 61. Speaking to TODAY for this report, older individuals attributed the generational differences to the norms on gender and sexuality that have been passed down from the generations before them and enforced in their families and communities. One of them is Mrs Michele Ng, 54, who initially had trouble accepting that her daughter is in a same-sex relationship. The homemaker, who also works as a part-time cat-sitter, said there was also a lot of pressure from the elders in her family to “raise her daughter the right way”, meaning her daughter should have a stable job, get married to a “good” man, and have children. Speaking to TODAY for this report, older individuals attributed the generational differences to the norms on gender and sexuality that have been passed down from the generations before them and enforced in their families and communities. Euphoria Ng Ms Euphoria Ng (second from left), 30, takes a selfie with her partner, her mother Michele Ng, 54, and her father (far right).

Aside from family pressures, the older generations talked about growing up at a time when there was a stigma around illnesses that were linked to the LGBTQ community such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can lead to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) if left untreated. Madam Rahimah Rahim, 63, recalled that back in the kampung days, those who had same-sex relations would be beaten up. This pressure was also keenly felt by Madam Norhayati Alwi, 62, when her son, Mr Fairul Edham Hirdayat, came out openly as gay. But it was only when she started working as a nurse over four decades ago that she found out that the illnesses was not confined to the LGBTQ community. The retiree added: “I don’t think you can say the older generation don’t accept LGBTQ people… Honestly, I think religion has more to do with it than age.” ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION A common refrain during discussions on environmental conservation is that young people want to save the planet while the older ones downplay the issue. And I think that’s why there is some falling out with relatives because it is pretty evident that the way she does things is different from everybody else.

But the NYC poll found otherwise: Both youths and non-youths deem environment and sustainability among the top five areas that require more attention in the next year. The other common priority areas are the cost of living, mental well-being, jobs and the economy. NTU’s Asst Prof Ang noted that most Singaporeans across generations acknowledge that something needs to be done to protect the environment but where the perceived generation gap may lie is the extent to which economic growth must be sacrificed to accommodate mitigation measures. Aside from family pressures, the older generations talked about growing up at a time when there was a stigma around illnesses that were linked to the LGBTQ community such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can lead to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) if left untreated. “ Over time, I showed (my mother) how the eco-enzymes can be used and we learnt about the benefits that eco-enzymes have that we both care about. Ms Pamela Low, 26, whose mother initially disapproved of her making eco-enzymes at home ” This was experienced by Ms Pamela Low, 26, whose mother initially disapproved of her making eco-enzymes at home because it took up space and she could not understand the benefits of such an endeavour.

Ms Low, a regional business launcher at a tech firm, ferments fruit and vegetable scraps into cleaning agents that can be used for dishwashing and general household cleaning. The retiree added: “I don’t think you can say the older generation don’t accept LGBTQ people… Honestly, I think religion has more to do with it than age. “Over time, I showed (my mother) how the eco-enzymes can be used and we learnt about the benefits that eco-enzymes have that we both care about — exposing ourselves to less chemicals, which is better for our skin and saving cost,” she said. Ms Low’s mother eventually saw how their common values of resourcefulness and thriftiness aligned through the activity. Pamela Low Jars of eco-enzymes made by Ms Pamela Low, 26, who ferments fruit and vegetable scraps into cleaning agents that can be used for dishwashing and general household cleaning. “As much as I want to accept their relationships, it’s very difficult because (it goes against) my beliefs,” she said, adding that she has not spoken openly about having such conflicted feelings to her loved ones. Mr Joven Chiew, 50, founder of Facebook group Singapore Hikers, said when it comes to caring for the environment, the habit of recycling is already ingrained in the older generation, most of whom like to reuse and resell things.

In comparison, youths do them more deliberately such as through participating in beach clean-ups or trash picking initiatives. Another difference which Mr Chiew noted among the different generations is how they perceive nature and what it means to be a nature lover. The channel strategist for a gaming company added that this divide had strained her relationship with her mother in the early days. “When the older generation say they’re nature lovers, what they mean is they love being part of nature, they love doing things like picking up fruits in the jungle, climbing trees, swimming in the stream – all the things they did back in the kampung days," said Mr Chiew. “But the younger generation is less interested in such activities. They are more interested in looking out for wildlife, studying plants, and looking at how conservation can impact biodiversity. In turn, her daughter told TODAY that she is more open about addressing sensitive questions from Mrs Ng about her sexual orientation and taking the time to explain why they should not be asked.

" INDIVIDUALISM VS COLLECTIVISM The younger generation is often criticised for being individualistic, placing their own needs and desires over group or societal goals. On the other hand, the older generation is often deemed to be collectivists – having a higher sense of loyalty to their group and feeling obligated to dedicate success to the collective effort. But not all agree with such stereotypes. Other common priority areas are the cost of living, mental well-being, jobs and the economy. Mr Raymond Fung, a 58-year-old retiree, believes that the value of collectivism is universal in this country and does not change from generation to generation. “I think whatever age you are, you want to see progress for Singapore,” he said.

Mr Fung felt that the misperception could be due to the fact that the younger generation are no longer willing to stick to having traditionally linear career paths as compared to their older counterparts, and are more motivated by their own purpose than a paycheck — making them seem self-centred. Ms Pamela Low, 26, whose mother initially disapproved of her making eco-enzymes at home ” This was experienced by Ms Pamela Low, 26, whose mother initially disapproved of her making eco-enzymes at home because it took up space and she could not understand the benefits of such an endeavour. He pointed out that as compared to the competitive workplace today, there were abundant employment opportunities when he first joined the workforce decades ago, as Singapore was in the early stages of industrialisation then. “The conventional path is to work for someone and get a 9-to-5 job. People also find security in getting employed and staying with a company, be it for loyalty or survival,” said the former mechanical engineer. Ms Low’s mother eventually saw how their common values of resourcefulness and thriftiness aligned through the activity. “I took that route, and my experience has somewhat been successful.

That’s why I am inclined towards that path because it has worked for me.” But Mr Fung said that when his daughter, Rae, expressed interest to work freelance and start her own business after she graduated from university, it dawned on him that the aspirations of youths today have changed. In comparison, youths do them more deliberately such as through participating in beach clean-ups or trash picking initiatives. Ms Rae Fung, 25, who is working as a speaking coach, acknowledged that she had the privilege of growing up in an environment where she need not worry about food on the table or having a roof over her head — and was thus able to pursue her passion . She added that youths today also benefit from the “privilege of perspective” because they have more access and exposure to more information. They can also network more easily with people with like-minded interests and open their minds to greater possibilities. “But the younger generation is less interested in such activities.

Nuria Ling/TODAY Mr Raymond Fung, a 58-year-old retiree, and his daughter Rae Fung, 25, who is working as a speaking coach. MARRIAGE & PARENTHOOD The traditional family nucleus has evolved so much over the last few decades that children are no longer raised primarily in a single-income household with a male breadwinner. This, in turn, has led to changing views about the importance of marriage and parenthood , with youths less likely to put as much importance on them as their parents or even older cohorts. He said: “I know that they (older hikers) essentially want the same thing I do — we want to reduce waste and protect the environment as much as we can. Take the case of Diana, the account strategist whose relationship with her parents soured after she refused to get married and had an abortion. Diana said she did so because she does not want to get married or have children, primarily because she feels that she will not be able to afford a good life for a child and she also prefers living by herself.

“When I got pregnant, I told myself I’m not going to get married to someone just because I have a baby with him,” she said. On the other hand, the older generation is often deemed to be collectivists — having a higher sense of loyalty to their group and feeling obligated to dedicate success to the collective effort. For Ms Therese Goh, her cohabitation with her boyfriend also caused a rift with her mother. The 22-year-old undergraduate recently moved in with her boyfriend of three years, to “test their compatibility”. “We see it as a trial… it gives us a better picture of how life will look like when we get married,” she said. “I think whatever age you are, you want to see progress for Singapore,” he said. Ms Goh said her mother was against the idea as she thought it would “erode the sanctity of marriage”.

“She has the mindset that there should be a wedding before a couple moves into their matrimonial home. But I’m of the view that I want to know exactly what I signed up for,” she said. Nuria Ling/TODAY Mr Raymond Fung, a 58-year-old retiree, and his daughter Rae Fung, 25, who is working as a speaking coach. WHAT EXPERTS SAY In describing the collective attributes of a generation, it is important to not exaggerate the differences, said experts interviewed. Asst Prof Ang from NTU said one factor that unnecessarily widens the generational gap is the uncritical use of generational labels and their associated stereotypes. "Thinking of birth cohorts as monolithic and reducible to a few often-negative attributes often exaggerates differences and leads to further polarisation, exemplified by terms such as ‘strawberry generation’ and ‘ok boomer’," he said. “I took that route, and my experience has somewhat been successful.

Dr Mathew Mathews, a principal research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), acknowledged that the difference between generations is certainly real but there are many areas where aspirations are similar. Pointing to results from the World Values Survey conducted by the IPS and released last year, Dr Mathews said the difference in opinion between generations here is actually “fairly small”. “For instance, there are many priorities that all of us, regardless of age group, tend to embrace — we all have similar views about the importance of the family and the need to respect our elders,” he said. Ms Rae Fung, 25, who is working as a speaking coach, acknowledged that she had the privilege of growing up in an environment where she need not worry about food on the table or having a roof over her head — and was thus able to pursue her passion . Agreeing, Asst Prof Ang said on climate change, for instance, Singaporeans across generations recognise it as a real problem that needs to be addressed, rather than it being a hoax or a conspiracy. And on LGBTQ issues, most across the generations will probably agree that LGBTQ individuals should not be discriminated against.

“These are important commonalities that we should not downplay, especially in a society where different generations have come of age in vastly different environments,” he added. Like Ms Fung, actress Lim Shi-An, 24, has also pursued an unconventional career out of passion. Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY Experts interviewed said that in describing the collective attributes of a generation, it is important to not exaggerate the differences. HOW TO BRIDGE THE GAP Instead of stereotyping each generation, focus on the commonalities. Create opportunities to allow meaningful cross-generational interactions – whether in school, the workplace or at home, and also beyond these spaces. He constantly referred to her and her same-age colleague as “strawberries” or “softies”, said Ms Lim. Integrating more adult learners into university classrooms, for instance, can provide a safe space for engagement across generations, said Asst Prof Ang.

Be curious about why people may have differing views and be respectful when addressing those views, said Ms Theresa Pong, the counselling director of The Relationship Room. Avoid “black or white thinking” or looking at issues in a straightforward manner, and talk about the issue when in better control emotionally, said Mr John Shepherd Lim, the chief well-being officer of Singapore Counselling Centre. She added that while she is labelled a Gen Z, she feels different from the people whom she would consider Gen Zs. Never sweat the small stuff. Actress Tan Kheng Hua, 59, who is usually on the same page as her 24-year-old daughter, said: “I don’t care what she wears, how she puts her makeup on or how late she stays up at night. I don’t sweat the small stuff. Actress Tan Kheng Hua, 59, who is usually on the same page as her 24-year-old daughter ” Her mother, award-winning actress Tan Kheng Hua, falls in the same generation as her former boss but does not share the same negative view of the younger generation.

But we talk about the big stuff – our values in life, what’s right and what’s wrong... Her job as an actress also exposed her to a wider range of views, she added. we talk about education and work ethics.” Related topics .