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Learning from each other across generations

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AT THE END of January, I took a trip to Amsterdam with my niece. It was her 18th birthday in December and being the cool aunt I am, I wanted to give her a European birthday treat.

One thing I learned from her during the trip and told her as much, was that she is so much more selfaware than I was at her age, including on an issue I was having with a friend.

That is true for so many young people these days. I have work colleagues who are acing it, but at their age, I had no idea what I wanted to do. This got me thinking, that it is so important to keep company of people from other generations, whether older or younger because we can learn so much from them.

Social media has played a huge part in educating gen Z. Topics such as mental wellbeing, skincare, career advancement, cooking, healthy eating and the dangers of smoking and drinking are widely discussed online, often by experts. Bloomberg even reported in last March that gen Z are smoking and drinking far less than their predecessors.

I also socialise regularly with neighbours in my building. As much as 90 per cent of them are retired and live alone. I got them all to set up a WhatsApp group, so we can all keep in touch in case we have an emergency or need help with anything. They love this WhatsApp group and regularly use it to share a joke or message if they’re feeling lonely. This is a generation which has lived through years of hardship, deaths of partners, divorces and their children growing up.

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In the summer, we congregated in our communal garden, and I listened to the oldest man in the building share anecdotes from his life. In return they listen to my dating and breakup woes, providing advice based on their lived experience.

Millennials, born in a different world in between gen Z and older generation have plenty to offer. Many of my married friends didn’t have dating apps or social media and met their partners more organically, which is missing now. We can provide solutions on human connection that younger people, immersed in modern technology, perhaps don’t have.

Ultimately, we can all learn from one another and should look to form a connection with all ages, which likely isn’t there as technology makes those social circles smaller.

Billionaire philanthropist Daniel Lubetzky has said: “We all have a responsibility to try and make this world better, whether it’s through our work, the causes we champion, the way that we treat people, or the values we impart to the next generation.”

Lubetzky’s advice can be applied to both younger and older generations, because we really can learn some much from one another and make this world a better place.

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