Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Generation gap?

I was pulled into an article in The Hindu. It started thus:

Somewhere along the line, young people have started to mistake bad manners for confidence

So here I was with the newspaper in my hands and I think: "Hmmm, so true! Let's hear what this person has to say." Well, what the person said revealed how little he knew about presenting a topic and he was so thoroughly confused. If someone makes a statement like:

It is not that they are useless: most speak good English and are confident of themselves. They are aware of the latest ring tones, movies and jokes. But when one goes a little beyond, they stare at me with dull eyes.

I know the person has very little clue about what he wants to really say. How does knowing English relate to being useful? Or being aware of the latest ringtones!!?? :-O

But the topic is something that is of relevance. People of the present generation believe that being disrespectful can be likened to one or more of the following:

1. Being confidant
2. Being cool
3. Essential for getting work done

I disagree with all of them (don't I love that!? ;-)

What has being confidant have to do with being disrespectful? Or getting the work done? Frankly, I think anything that needs to be realised only by being disrespectful is rather left unrealised. The article talks about things beside the point and I was left rather exasperated!

India (and most of Asia) has had (and still does) have a deep tradition of paying respects as protocol for most societal interaction. This is dying. This tradition has been considered privy to places like Japan, but India too has a very rich tradition of being respectful. It is a traditional practice and tradition cannot be mistaken for a mere formality.

When youngsters today talk to their parents, it is quite disturbing to watch their gestures and the phrases they used were unthought of a few years ago.
"Get lost dad! You are such a bore!"
Huh! :-o
"Paati (grandma) is so outdated. I really do not know what to do with her."
Huh! :-O
"You know Krishnan mama (uncle)? That old neighbour of ours? Yeah the fat one. He keeps coming every morning to borrow the newspaper. Such a miser!"
HUH! :-O

And these are the mild ones. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the words used (like screw, pain-in-the-you-know-where, etc.) are appalling. So much said about language.

When an elderly person walks into the room, we were taught to rise and sit only when the person instructs us to do so. Maybe that is too old-fashioned, but extending your legs in front of someone old enough to be your grandfather/mother? Or munching on some snacks and talking to them?

Something I find entirely unacceptable is the "mobile" culture that has crept in. People must have their mobiles on and they must attend to it no matter what. As the article mentions, many candidates I interviewed for companies would suddenly have their pants singing out to them!! Loud enough to disturb other candidates sitting at other tables. To my present teams I made it clear that mobiles should be switched off during meetings or turned to silent mode and left ignored (so that you can find out who called and return those calls after the meeting). What can be so urgent in this world? A member whose wife was expecting (don't ask me what) was allowed to answer his mobile, but he too had to keep it in silent mode. I don't know why this has to be told. Isn't it a basic modicum of decency?

We never spoke in presence of elders unless our opinion was sought. Nowadays I find children butting in and rudely disagreeing with them. There are polite and definitely decent ways of putting forth a point.

On the roads, people talk to vendors rudely or in a rough voice. They think that by doing so, they can establish who is in control. This is not something that only youngsters seem to do. In Madras, people tell me that you have to be tough with autorikshaw drivers as they are most inclined to fleece you. I have been here for nearly 4 months now and I have never had to even once raise my voice. I clearly state the price and if they disagree then I simply walk away. I have never (knock on wood, else another post will come up :-) had to be tough with them. With the vegetable vendors too, I have never had to be gruff. It was mostly a case of a clear steady voice and then the deal is realised or not. Another thing on roads that I observe today is the way drivers treat each other. Without doubt it is annoying when a car cuts your path, but there are decent ways of telling the driver that s/he was doing something stupid. People shriek and shout and of course! swear.

Why have we stopped respecting human beings and lost ourselves to getting things done and making an impression? Why is it so important to make an impact and be firm, when we cannot master the art of being gentle but persuasive?


  1. Wonder of wonders, Eroteme, I agree with every point you raise here! Lucky you :-D...

  2. All of this grows from a feeling of being out of control. Your post and the Hindu article inspired a blog post about the issue here.

  3. " people mistake rudeness as strength"

  4. So true Eroteme... BTW, you've used the word 'confidant' often in the opst...did you mean confident or am I missing some subtly hinted meaning?

  5. Dear P,
    :-) Phew!

    Dear M,
    I read yours. Very well detailed.

    Dear N,
    True, true...

    Dear SCS,
    I think that is a typo! :-D Polishing our skills aren't we? ;-)

  6. Eroteme, I fully agree with EVERYTHING you've written here. But - Yup a BUT - But, I have ONE Question.

    Who taught you to talk respectfully, in a genttler manner to the auto rickshaw driver, the bus driver, the vegetable vendor, the sweeper, the maid servant etc etc etc?

    I do not call it a 'Generation Gap'. It is 'Generation Negligence' A gross negligence of teaching virtues to the child at home. Lets not play the blame game - but lets get the facts straight - the child learns from the parents.

    When my dad used his 'fancy' words my mom privately told him not to and very strictly made it clear to me and my sis that we are not to be saying such words else God will punish us. And there was no asking her 'what punishment'? Her words were not to be challenged.

    Mom. She might have made mistakes but Mom's mom. I was never 'afraid' of mom, I somply loved her without question. Today I see children who are 'afraid' of their moms and dads but dont 'love' them! I'd question mom and dad - always - at home never in public. Children nowadays keep their mouth shut in front of their parents but scandalize them in their gang of friends!

    Everything is so ... 'fancy' and 'fake' - Nothing Genuine. No, no respect, no love. Nothing. Silver lining - there are a few genuine ones in the midst of the majority of the fake ones!

    OK, again we're shifting residences and the exams are also going on ... I'll get back to reading your latest later - maybe after a week or two. Till then ...