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?

How Much Risk Makes You Uncomfortable?

Over the course of a lifetime, we all encounter extreme levels of risk at some point. What level of risk makes you uncomfortable?

Risk is all around us.

Sometimes, it is physical. Perhaps you enjoy the high speeds and twisty turns of a roller coaster. Or maybe jumping out of an airplane is on your bucket list.

Another kind of risk is financial. Taking on a large debt, like a mortgage or a student loan, can be daunting. Putting your money in the stock market, where you might lose it, may seem dangerous to some.

There are also other, more abstract, kinds of risk. Asking out someone, with the possibility of being rejected. Leaving a job where you are comfortable for one that might be worse.

Apart from these riskier behaviors, we also do small things are potentially bad or dangerous. However, the downside may be so small, we might not even realize the potential harm.

For example, think about eating some tasty, but unhealthy (or fattening) food. Too much of that can put you at risk for heart disease, not to mention obesity and the many health problems that come with it.

Or maybe you buy the occasional lottery ticket. A few bucks, even if you are unlikely to win, might seem like a gamble you are willing to take for the possibility of a big payout.

Most people probably find a threshold of risk somewhere between these extremes. Not everyone is comfortable with, say, rock climbing. But most people are willing to climb over a few boulders when out for a hike.

What do you find an acceptable level of risk? Has it changed over time, and if so, how? Is your comfort level different for you than it is for a loved one, like a child or an aging parent? Have you forced yourself to take risks that you weren’t comfortable with, because of a potential reward?

Related questions: How do you evaluate risk? When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone? What is uncomfortable but rewarding? What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

How Do You Deal With Major Life Changes?

As we go through life, there are bound to be major changes that happen to you. When they do, how do you deal with it?

When you look back on your life, chances are you remember most clearly the times when things changed. Graduation, getting married, a new job, and so on.

It is easy to see why these moments are memorable. Most likely, there are many new experiences involved, and when your brain is active forming new connections, memories are formed along with them. In addition, when things are changing, your future is uncertain, and that uncertainty can be scary (which is memorable).

These major life events can lead to all sorts of emotions, possibly at the same time: happiness, fear, loneliness, nervousness, relief, anticipation, and so on. Because of this, there are also numerous ways to react.

If you let your happiness dictate your response, you may react with more at ease. Fear, on the other hand, may lead you to reacting defensively or cautiously. Other emotions may lead to different reactions.

Can you think of patterns to how you react to big life changes, whether they are good or bad changes? Maybe you are consumed with glee or worry; perhaps you instead try to remain logical and as unemotional as possible. Or something else entirely.

How you deal with life’s big changes can say a lot about who you are. If so, what does it say about you?

Related questions: What was your last big change? What makes change possible? Can people change? How have you changed?

Hold A Grudge Or Let It Go?

When it comes to personal slights, do you tend to hold a grudge, or let things slide off your back? Do you wish you were different?

Share why if you wish.

Hold A Grudge Or Let It Go?

How Can Humans Become More Humane?

Human history is filled with aggression, violence, betrayal, greed, and other negative acts. How can we become more humane?

While there are plenty of instances of people treating each other with grace and dignity, the opposite is alarmingly common. And all too often, the underlying cause is suspicion and mistrust of the other.

It is easy to understand bad behavior when life and death is on the line. If my family is going to starve, I might steal your food to feed them. That may not be right, but it makes sense.

However, what do we make of more abstract differences? Why do we attack or enslave someone else because their skin color is different from ours? Or they pray to a different god? Or they speak a different language?

There may be an evolutionary cause to our behavior. A person who mistrusted others in different tribal groups may have been more likely to survive into adulthood and have offspring. We may be hardwired that way.

Now however, that same behavior is counterproductive at best, and actively destructive at worst. We can see divisions growing between groups for the simplest of reasons. People are insulted and attacked online, which ruins the experience for everyone. Misogyny, homophobia, racism all run rampant in today’s society.

Is there any way we can improve things? Can we train ourselves to treat others with respect and compassion, even if we don’t know them? Can we overcome our baser instincts and be more humane? On a personal level, what do you do if you suspect you might be succumbing to your darker nature?

Related questions: How can we encourage meaningful conversation? Why do we hate? How can you love someone who does something you hate? Why does social media often bring out the worst in us?