There are several things that happen when you live in a state of cultural fluidity. I live in a multicultural hub of the world, with the status of “1st generation Canadian” and in a time where tradition is at odds with technology.
And in a situation like this, the spectrum of respectable and appropriate and “how the world works” gets thrown into all kinds of extremes.
Ugh, now I’m talking all metaphors and not making any sense. Okay, this all starts with the fact that my sister is graduating from high school next month. And I’ve discovered that it’s at “critical” times like these that all of the cultural fluidity dumps us in the deep end.
I put quotations around “critical” because culture is what defines this time in a person’s life as critical. At age 18, youth are expected to plan the next thirty years of their lives.
Hah. Good. Luck. With. That.
This is a particular point of stress with my parents, who insist that this feat is, in fact, possible. That when we enter post-secondary we know what degree we want and what job that’s going to lead to and how much money we’re going to make at that job.
Meanwhile, I’ve just finished second year and am still not sure what to do with my life.
But this isn’t the only fact that’s struck a chord with our parents. My sister’s prom was last weekend, and my parents were practically mortified when my sister hugged one of her male friends in greeting. The next day, our mother demanded to know if, “Anything was going on” between them.
It took us a while to explain that we hug our friends all the time in greeting, including our male friends, with a few exceptions due to varying levels of conservativeness. And all out mom ended up saying was, “That’s not considered proper.”
And while this is a fairly easy example of “old vs. new” at odds, there are so many other points of argument up for debate:
- Sex before marriage.
- Children out of wedlock.
- Not attending post-secondary school.
- Political systems.
- Religious beliefs and teachings.
- Familial hierarchy.
- The education system.
- Social media.
- Pop music.
And the problem on where anyone stands on any of these topics depends on their values. Furthermore, it’s completely subjective on whether or not those values are “old fashioned”, “common sense”, and/or “modern”.
Then there’s the trouble of mixing up “tradition” with “old fashioned”. And “improper” with “modern”. And “caution” with “fear”.
It’s the confusion of all of this that makes progress its strange, slow, and at times reluctant way forward.
So when exactly does what we label as simply “old fashioned” retire? When do they reach the point that these ways of thinking die out and are remembered by history as “the way the world used to work”?
And should it?