Older Australians are sick of the younger generation’s manners, obsession with technology, punctuality and political correctness, which they say is ruining society.
That was the verdict on the nation’s young which emerged from a study commissioned by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency (ASIA).
Of 1000 people aged over 50 surveyed by CoreData for the ASIA, 88 per cent thought people in modern Australia were too politically correct.
As well, 74 per cent of seniors said people who strived to be politically correct annoyed them, and 45 per cent said they tried to avoid being politically correct just for the sake of it. Further, 86 per cent of those surveyed said the drive to be politically correct was ruining society.
Nan Bosler, president of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, said seniors found it difficult when it came to simple things, such as certain words they used day to day.
“Names we have known things by all our lives, they weren’t there out of disrespect or anything like that, it was just a name we knew things by,” she said.
“And if we have to always modify what we’re saying, it’s a little distracting, it’s a little bit frustrating.
“We of course do respect other people, so we understand about political correctness. But we don’t always think it’s the way we want to go — we want to be true to ourselves.”
Ms Bosley said too much sensitivity about the meaning of words and phrases acted as a barrier between younger Australians and people aged over 50.
“I think we can just be too politically correct,” she said.
“I suppose it’s for the majority that the minority have to sometimes think well ‘ok, can’t say that anymore, I must remember that’.”
Millennial social etiquette ‘confusing’
CoreData also surveyed Australians over 50 about their views of millennials, which it defined as Australians aged 19 to 35.
The survey found 85 per cent of older Australians found millennial social etiquette confusing.
Ms Bosley said it worried her when she heard “younger people” in restaurants being rude to staff.
“That’s probably our upbringing — we were respectful to other people, and sometimes young people just don’t do that,” she said.
Young people using a laptop computer and tablet.
Respondents aged over 50 also said they were worried about young people spending too much time on their phones and online.
In fact, digital distraction and over-reliance on technology were two of the top five things that those over 50 thought were the biggest social taboos — ranked after racism, smoking and swearing.
‘They’re not used to dealing with more diversity’
Mark Young helps older Australians navigate computers at a computer club in Sydney.
He said older Australians found the digital “distraction” among younger people frustrating.
“The grandkids come round and just spend their time on the phone and looking at that and not talking to them, and they have to kind of butt in in order to get a conversation going,” Mr Young said.
“They don’t like that, they think that’s poorly mannered.”
He explained how older Australians often felt pressure to sign up to social media networks such as Facebook.
“They feel kind of left out, that people won’t interact with them if they’re not on it, yet they don’t really want to,” Mr Young said.
“So there’s the pressure there that they don’t like.”
Mr Young said for many older Australians, the pace of social change over their lifetimes had been a bit disconcerting.
And that, he said, was likely why such a high proportion of them who said they were worried about political correctness.
“I think that they’re used to being able to talk to people that were like them, similar to them,” he said.
“And therefore it was easy to say what you wanted to say because you knew the people would agree.
“But they’re dealing with a wider range of people, more diversity — and we’re all taken in by the need to tolerate diversity these days.
“Whereas in the past Australia wasn’t as diverse and we didn’t have to think about things like gay marriage and stuff like that.”