Something I think is already happening and will accelerate in the future, is that traditional generation gaps are going to stop being relevant.
- In terms of cultural artifacts, we are shifting to an on-demand system, in which all the media from all of the ages just exists in a giant pile on the internet for anyone to peruse at any time. Interested kids already have the ability to educate themselves about any classic works or past subgenres with great ease, and likewise adults armed with search engines can easily educate themselves about any new fads younger generations have concocted. The increasing fragmentation of entertainment outlets suggests that what will matter most is not so much what generation you’re from, but what micro niche you belong to.
- Computers interfaces are getting easier to use and increasingly dumbed down. So the younger generation is not likely to have any native technological advantage over the older generation, in the way that millennials have had a significant advantage over baby boomers.
- Relatively fast adoption of new technologies is already pretty much a necessity for adults today. So the idea that young people adopt things more readily or more quickly while older people end up frozen at a certain technological moment will probably fade.
- Better health and medical technology will make the physical differences between the young and the old increasingly less salient. Eventually cognitive advances may improve the brain plasticity of the old as well, which has probably always been one of the primary driving factors behind generation gaps.
- The increasing difficulty of finding a job, the growing impermanence of jobs that exist, the inevitable transformation of higher education, and the continued decoupling of education from work—all of these trends are going to undermine the idea that older generations are necessarily more stable and settled in their careers. Everyone, young and old, is going to be scrambling to stay afloat.