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The Internet Has Caused a Wider Generation Gap in Indian Families

Compared to a lot of other cultures, Indian parents are more involved in their children’s lives. Parents have a say in what you study, who you marry, and how you raise your kids.

For some, it’s not just the parents; but also uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc. 

As a result, I assume there has always existed a tension - between tradition and new ideas.

Because the older generations in the family are adherents of traditions that are often centuries old - the youngsters, meanwhile, create their own rules due to exposure to new ideas.

This causes issues. The older generation, being more involved can’t stand the new-age ideas and consider them an attack on their traditions. The younger generation, on the other hand, are stubborn and demand their way.

The result of this struggle differs from family to family. But on a society-wide scale, the new ideas the younger generation introduced become norms themselves. 

Afterward, their younger generation challenges the same norms. Thus, the cycle of adoption, tension, and normalization continues with each successive generation.

The Problem of Range Restriction

Most of our previous generations had limited sources of information; they received new ideas only through the people around them - those with whom they grew up, worked, played, etc. 

Hence, transformations in societal views were slow. Sure, there were radical ideas far from the existing norm. However, their influence was limited to a few trailblazers and outsiders in the community because Instagram was not a thing yet.

So, there was little divide between generations. The changes were minuscule, barely noticeable if zoomed out.

Stable changes across generations.

Later, communication techs such as radio and TV came to the scene. They exposed a new generation to new ideas. 

For the first time, people had the opportunity to get exposure to the outside world from their homes.

But being centralized technologies the content the people were exposed to were limited. Everyone also pretty much saw the same content as there were few channels - be it on radio or TV.

Hence, the change between the generation before and after was higher than before. But not that significant.

Enter: The Internet

Then came our beloved internet. And it changed everything.

It eliminated the limitations of physical borders, allowing ideas to travel across distances. It opened up a new generation to ideas, beliefs, and value systems quite alien to them. 

You no longer have to be born in India to learn about the values and practices of the culture; you can adopt it from anywhere in the world.

As a result, you no longer have to be tethered to the lifestyle your parents had lived or believe the same things your parents do. Instead, you are free to explore new ideas and modes of living, as befits your values.

Heck, you are even allowed to adopt new values that run contrary to all the teachings you have been imbibed with.

Hence, there is now a bigger gap between each generation. 

Consider, the decision to have kids. For previous generations, there was no decision to be made at all. Because having children was considered a duty. The very purpose of marriage was believed to be the rearing and raising of children. 

However, the newer generation for the first time has been exposed to the idea that the purpose of marriage doesn’t have to be to have kids. Or that one doesn’t need to get married at all. 

And some are choosing not to. This is an idea inconceivable (no pun intended) to the past generation.

The Future

Undoubtedly, there would be a lot of strain between the older generation and the new because of this gap. 

The older generation is likelier to resist attempts at complete autonomy than the newer generation would attempt. Strains are bound to happen over things like marriage, kids, relationships, sexuality, and more.

The thing is, once potent ideas are spread into a society, it is pretty difficult to weed them out. Like my uncle after two drinks, it takes a path of its own.

However, in the end, the new ideas will prevail. Tradition would co-exist, but with time, might transform into something different.

The ideas that have become common due to exposure to the internet, in my opinion, are here to stay.  

I don’t think the older generation is happy about that (my mom definitely isn’t.)


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