Sometimes we hear about the so-called “generation gap.” Where did this concept come from, and how prevalent has this idea been throughout history? That’s the subject of today’s ngram.
As always, an intro to Google’s ngram viewer can be read here if you are not familiar with this.
The concept of a generation gap is apparently fairly recent…
It came about in… you guessed it… the 1960’s. As with so many other ngrams I’ve looked at, the 1960’s was apparently a rather tumultuous time. Discussions about the “generation gap” peaked in the early 1970’s and then it declined almost as rapidly as it arrived.
Which raises so many questions. What, exactly, is the “gap” anyway? A gap in age seems a little too obvious. A gap in our understanding of reality? A gap in priorities about reality?
And why did it suddenly show up out of nowhere? Did the gap itself only come into existence in the 1960’s and before then there was no gap? Or was there an existing gap that was only identified in the 1960’s?
If the gap pre-dates the 1960’s, and it represented some kind of serious problem, then why have we suddenly lost interest in it? If it is a systemic problem, like poverty, then you would expect the interest to be maintained.
Perhaps it was never really a problem in the first place, but simply one attempt to understand the cultural turmoil of the 1960’s? With time it became apparent that framing the turmoil as a “generation gap” wasn’t really the best way to understand the situation?
I’m all questions today, no theories.