OK, so we older, well-mannered Aussies have heard all about how the younger generation have no manners, can’t read, don’t know how to talk to their families, elders, or indeed anyone who does not know the ‘lingo’. All they do all day is use their gadgets, X Box, iPhone, Computer game, Nintendo etc etc.
We know how frustrating it is to get your point across even to one’s own generation sometimes if they are on another mind set. So what are the consequences of allowing our children and even our young adults to get away without knowing the rudiments of good conversation?
There are people that we all call bores who keep on and on about their pet subject even though all the body language indicates their companions have tuned out. It is a social agony to be stuck with someone who ‘spouts’ all the time without the merest interest in anyone else, or even sharing the talk-time around. You would think they had been an invited speaker!
The other pet peeve I have is someone who so dominates the subject under discussion that even when someone comments or interjects they reply. And reply to the next one too. And the next one. Sorry, but this is a group discussion and not everyone wants to talk to you all night, not unless you are Stephen Fry in disguise!
But back to our young people. Kids of all ages have always shared a sort of slang that their comrades know as a semi-secret language, but it was never a threat to community safety and socialisation until recently. I recall the pirate radio stations we used to listen to when my parents allowed us to get close to the radio. And close we had to be, as they were brought up on Bing Crosby and we wanted to listen to the Beatles! Dad insisted the volume be kept down to where he could not hear it and we only had one radio, never mind one in the bedroom, or, God Forbid, a TV in the bedroom!
In case you think my concerns are trivial, consider this…. There is a whole generation of children who do not know how to use cutlery since all of their meals have been fast food, eaten by hand! Now it seems there may be a whole generation that have no idea how to manage a group discussion with decency, manners and allowing everyone a fair chance to state their position. There are already communication problems between one social group and another; see any industrial relations dispute as an example. What if there is such a gap that one group cannot adequately understand the point of view of the other?
There are frightening possibilities when we realise that it is the young people of today that will be the middle-aged of tomorrow, and looking after the elderly in their nursing homes in the future. That will be me, being looked after by an X-box freak I cant talk to. Is that what we want?
I am just hoping that enough general education, enough university places, enough mixing of age groups will occur so that we can bridge the gap. But it starts today, with the presents you buy them for Christmas when they are aged 6-12. If they are electronic presents, make sure they are not allowed at the family dinner table. You DO have a family dinner table, don’t you??