Manners, Political Correctness And Technology; Hot Button Issues For Seniors

Luke Fitzpatrick

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The manners of the younger generations are a big issue, according to seniors. Other “hot button” topics include an obsession with technology that the younger generations have and a strong concern for political correctness.

These results come from a survey of over 1,000 people aged 50 and over, and some of the statistics on how the older generations view the youngsters are eye-opening.

  • Two in three seniors deem the etiquette standards of the younger generations to be poor.
  • Four in five seniors are uncomfortable with the younger generation’s ideas of social etiquette, stating that it “doesn’t make sense to them.”
  • A full 88 percent of seniors believe that people are too politically correct, and 87 percent believe that always trying to be politically correct is not authentic.

Taken together these statistics show that seniors do feel a little socially-isolated, in that they’re not necessarily comfortable with the new rules of social behavior, and tend to find those rules exasperating.

It’s interesting, that seniors also don’t feel pressure to change their attitudes and behaviors, with almost half (43.2 percent) agreeing that they won’t stray from their beliefs to cater to the politically correct-focused world.

It is, however, worth noting that while “political correctness” rankles seniors, they also agree with the younger generations on many of the principles on which political correctness is built.

Nearly two-thirds of seniors agree that various social nasties, such as racism, sexism, classism, and agism are not acceptable in society, suggesting that while they don’t necessarily agree with the way younger generations are delivering the political correctness message, they do agree with the principle of the matter.

In fact, seniors and younger generations share a lot in common

There’s often the perception that the younger generations and seniors are at odds with one another, having fundamentally different cultural values and attitudes. The survey data simply doesn’t back that up.

For example, seniors believe that being punctual and ensuring personal hygiene are both critical workplace social graces – things that the younger demographics tend to also put great stock into. Both age groups also share the same priorities when it comes to social media behavior, specifically:

1) Never send personal messages through public posts.

2) Don’t embarrass others in public forums.

Miscommunication and a changing environment

Much of the tension between the older generations and the young can be attributed to miscommunication and changing the way in which the world operates.

For example, seniors tend to feel uncomfortable with the way that younger generations treat service staff, interpreting the way that waiters and so on are treated as “rude.” To the younger generations, it’s more a matter of efficiency and the expectation of a standard of service.

Similarly, the attitude towards technology is one that tends to confuse the generations that were brought up to respect human-to-human interaction. While seniors make use of technology and social media, in their view it’s not a core part of the social experience as the younger generations tend to see it.

Even the difficulty that many seniors feel with political correctness simply has to do with miscommunication. As mentioned previously, seniors agree that racism, sexism, ageism, and other “-isms” are unacceptable. Fundamentally, this is what political correctness aims to address, by challenging people into not participating in those unacceptable social nasties.

However, the rules by which political correctness is defined is moving at a rapid rate, and many seniors, especially considering they’re less immersed within the rapid information exchanges that technology enables, accessibility, and the struggle to keep up with the “new rules” being written.

The value struggle

Addressing the concerns that seniors have with the manners of the younger generation seems to be more a task of finding ways to communicate the fundamental points of commonality across generations, and highlight that the different generations simply have different pathways to the same goals.

While seniors are unwilling to compromise on their own values, and struggle to understand the benefits of concepts such as political correctness, in the application they’re really shared values, just approached from a different angle. Helping seniors to be comfortable with technology as an information resource and a platform for communication will be a big step in addressing the generational divide around manners.

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Academic Speaker | Freelance Journalist | I have contributed to a variety of publications such as Forbes, Tech In Asia, and The Next Web. I cover a variety of topics ranging from fintech, big data, AI, blockchain, to lifestyle and breaking news stories.

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