Are Generational Designations Useful?

It has become fairly common to refer to generations of people using  a nickname, like “Millennials” or “Gen X”. Are these designations useful?

It doesn’t take much effort to find articles or websites that define a generational group based on some age range. For example, the “Boomer” generation, named after the Baby Boom that occurred in the 1950s, typical includes anyone born between 1946 and 1964.

The exact dates, and even entire generations, are hotly disputed. However, regardless of the exact definition, many people find it convenient to group people together in this way. Then some broad generalizations can be drawn over the group.

For instance, the group referred to as “Gen X” is often called by the alternate name, the latch-key generation. This refers to the fact that many kids in this generation were highly independent, largely as a result of both parents entering the work force. Every day, latch-key kids got themselves home from school, made a snack, did homework, and entertained themselves without any assistance from parents.

However, it isn’t true that every single member of the generation was like this. In fact, it is doubtful that even a majority of people who are classified as “Gen X”  had this experience. Similar examples exist for any one of the defined generations.

As such, is it actually useful to draw these generalizations? While the idea of these groups might hold some appeal to our order-seeking brains, are they actually illuminating in some way? Are there actual, helpful inferences to be drawn by these generational classifications? Or do individuals defy stereotyping?

Related questions: How do you show your age? In what ways do you not act your age? With which groups do you identify?

Do You Replace What You Have Lost?

We all have experience with loss.  When you have lost something — a pet, a loved one, a friendship — do you attempt to replace it?

In one sense, life is just an accumulation of various kinds of loss. Over the course of your life span, you will, at one point or another, lose just about everything, from your car keys, to your innocence, to your parents.

Since we all have experience with loss, we also can learn to deal with it. Some losses are more impactful than others, while some are downright trivial.

Replacement is obvious in some cases. Of course you replace your credit cards if you lose your wallet. Of course you send out your resume if you lose your job.

However, in some cases, particularly if the losses are emotional and not physical, it is not so clear. If you are emotionally devastated at the loss of a beloved pet, do you get another one? Or is the emotional wound so raw that you cannot risk getting hurt again?

Similarly, as friendships come to an end, it may not be clear that you will make new friends. For most people, making new friends gets more rare the older you get. Is that because you get pickier when choosing who to spend your time with? Or is it something else?

Generally, how do you deal with loss? Is your instinct to try and replace the thing that is lost? Or do you try to forget about it, and concentrate on other areas of your life?

Related questions: What would you do if you lost part of yourself? How do you deal with loss? What can you learn from loss? What do you miss? Who do you miss?