Define “relationship”. Now go to your grandparents and ask them what a relationship looks like. And, if you have them, ask your kids. I promise you, each generation will have a different answer for what defines a relationship. It might be that yours and your grandparents definition is pretty similar but your children? Or, at the least, the next generation behind your own, will have a radically different vision. Why? What is it about now that has changed the basic building blocks of our society?
Generally defined as “The Greatest Generation“, these are members of society that kicked Hitler’s ass, nuked two cities, and proceeded to fuck like they were running out of kids to fill rooms. Unsurprisingly, most of these individuals will tell you that a relationship is defined as being between two people who are close, whether emotionally or physically. Relationships are built on face-to-face contact. Small town America style of society. For them, you built relationships with the people in your neighborhood but very rarely from further than fifty miles from your front door. You know Sue from across town from the Sunday pot luck at the church but Edna from two cities over? No idea.
Generally considered to the the “Me Generation”; arguably the greatest generation in history (I’m biased. I was born in 1974). We brought down the Berlin Wall. We invented the home computer. We gave you MTV and glam metal. We gave you shoulder pads and questionable fashion choices to mock. While our values were shifted from our parents’ generation, our definition of relationship isn’t that different. We were the generation that started chatting online (Yeah you can thank us for that too) so our idea of a relationship was the first to include people that we met through the internet. But even that, we still initiated in-person contact after a while. So while we knew Edna from two cities over, we would make the drive to meet her in a parking lot at some point in our friendship.
Generation Y is the most radical departure from tradition. With the rise of social media, a global approach to relationships include people that you have never met and have ZERO intention of meeting. A relationship can be with Edna from two cities over or with Edit from half a world away. Both offer the same value, with the added bonus of being bombarded with Words With Friends invites (hint: If you invite me to help you play Words With Friends, I will make certain you regret it) and being awake at odd hours. Millenials are the generation that sleep less, drink shittier coffee, and are propelling our society towards its next phase. They are inclusive, broad-minded, and forcing change in places Generation X couldn’t get done. (We were busy. There was a sale on jelly shoes and Hypercolour shirts)
So which relationship definition is the correct one?
In short; all of them. Each definition is correct for each individual. I know plenty of Baby Boomers that are as active on social media as your average twenty-year-old. I know some Millenials who wouldn’t know how to turn on a computer with detailed instructions (my son). The beauty of a relationship is in it’s simplicity to how each person behaves. There are those who know the names of every butcher, baker, and candlestick maker in town and they are just as happy as the twenty-something with one million followers on @Twitter. One generations definition doesn’t quantify anothers.
Cross generational relationship
Every day, I encounter people who break through the generational definition. The nature of my work as a mature cocktease introduces me to people across generations, borders, and beliefs. Each relationship brings something to my life that wasn’t there before. (cue the cheesy inspirational swell of orchestral music) Each relationship is one that I have enjoyed for the last eleven years and, am looking forward to enjoying for the next however long.