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?

Does Knowledge Have Inherent Value?

Knowing information can help in a variety of different ways. But does learning have value, even if you don’t use that knowledge in any way?

Kids attend school in their formative years, because learning is key to success. (Some kids don’t thrive in a formal learning situation, but that’s not important for this discussion.)

How is learning important?

For one, you have greater control over your situation. Knowledge helps you make better decisions, because you know more about how things work together, and how they fit into the world.

It also helps to not have to reinvent the wheel. There have been billions of people who have walked the earth before us, and in many cases, their knowledge is passed along to us. We can learn from their mistakes; no need to make them ourselves.

And learning can be fun. Experiencing an ‘Aha!’ moment when things click into place and you understand something for the first time feels good. Our brains evolved to solve problems, so using our big brains for their intended purpose feels right.

But what happens if you strip all that away?

A common complaint heard by teachers is “When am I going to use this?” And certainly, it is hard to accurately predict when something you learn might come in handy. You might very well be surprised at how often you call upon something seemingly unrelated in your life.

But what if it never comes? If you learn something that you cannot use in any way, is it still valuable? Or does knowledge only have meaning and utility in the way that it is applied?

Related questions: How do you learn? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? Why are we fascinated with the unknown? How do we know what we don’t know?

Why Does Time Seem To Move Faster As We Grow Older?

As we age, time seems to speed up. A month might seem a long time to a child, but a short window to an adult. Why?

I distinctly remember events in my childhood taking a long time. A year between birthdays, for example, seemed to stretch on and on. Starting a new school year was significant, because each school year seemed to last a remarkably long time.

In contrast, as an adult things happen quickly. It seems like you barely change your clocks and then it is time to change them again. Birthdays start to merge in your memory. Even things that take years, like the Olympics, seem like little more than the blink of an eye.

The amount of time passing, of course, doesn’t change. A year consists of the same amount of time when you are five as when you are 50. However, the way we experience that year is quite different.

Is it the fact that there are more demands on your time as an adult? We need to do more, and we never seem to have enough time. That might make each day (and week, and month, and so on) fly by.

Does it have to do with how close you are to the end of your life? After all, A journey of a thousand miles might seem much shorter when there are only 10 miles left to go.

Does it have to do with novelty? As a child, nearly every experience is brand new. But when we get older, we settle in to a routine. The brain seems to process new experiences in a different way than something we have done over and over.

Or is it a combination of all these things, or something else altogether?

Do you agree that time seems to move faster the older we get? Why do you think it might be so?

Related questions: What is time? Do you have unstructured time? What would you do if you had more time? What do you spend too much time doing?

How Do You Bridge A Divide?

As our society becomes more polarized, finding common ground can be difficult. For two people bitterly divided, how can they bridge the gap between them?

At times, it can feel like there is more dividing us than there is uniting us. Whether it is politics, religion, gender, age, income, skin color, or any number of other differences, the distance between two people can seem like a chasm.

And yet, there is a need for two people to bridge that distance and talk, no matter how far apart they might be. Doing so might be necessary to build a working relationship at a job. It might mean a harmonious atmosphere at a family dinner table. It may even lead to a political committee with adversaries accomplishing meaningful change.

Of course, finding common ground is easier said than done. What are the elements necessary for two people who disagree, perhaps even strongly, to build a bridge between their two viewpoints? Particularly if the environment they are in encourages or rewards polarization and divisiveness?

How do you bridge a divide between two people who are far apart in several different ways, and have little in common? After all, each one of us may find ourselves in such a situation.

Related questions: How can we encourage meaningful conversation? What is necessary to change your mind? How can you love someone who does something you hate? Why are we so divided?