Mon, Apr 16, 2018 - Page 7 News List

The generation gap is back, but not as we know it

There is an ideological conflict brewing between ‘woke’ millennials and an older generation in which neither understands the other

By Brigid Delaney  /  The Guardian

The woke generation — young millennials aged between 18 and 30 — brought the theories of intersectionality and identity into debates about a range of human rights issues: campus free speech, transgender rights, the Me Too movement, marriage equality, gun control, reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter and, in Australia, the Change the Date movement.

This new way of looking at the world has resulted in a golden age of protest, dissent and pushing back against societal norms. Marches in the US — such as the Women’s March and the one for gun control — have smashed attendance records, while in Australia, the Invasion Day march surpassed all expectations of crowd size.

The landscape has shifted dramatically in the past few years, and older people on the left and right have found that they have been tripped up and called out by their more woke colleagues, friends or Twitter followers.

The Wall Street Journal, in a piece last week, somewhat gleefully predicted it would be those who policed “wokeness” who would destroy the left.

Left-leaning Gen X-ers thought that by listening to Rihanna, skateboarding to work and going to Coachella they could defeat the generation gap. Now they are grappling with the idea that they might be causing offense — sometimes inadvertently — through a tweeted microaggression, an offensive Halloween costume or sombrero worn at a tequila party, or a positive comment about Bill Leak’s legacy or personality on Twitter after he died.

The response — at least online — is punitive if offense is caused.

According to a piece in the New Yorker on new campus politics, it has “flummoxed many people who had always thought of themselves as devout liberals. Wasn’t free self-expression the whole point of social progressivism?”

This is a generation gap — it is just unlike any other we have seen before.

Brigid Delaney is a senior writer for Guardian Australia. She has previously worked as a lawyer and journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald, the Telegraph, ninemsn and CNN.

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