The Generational Gap?

28 Jun

There’s a joke that goes something like this. When I was 15, my dad knew nothing; when I was 25, it was amazing how smart the old man had become.

And it is true.

I mention this because amidst the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth on Facebook, since the results of the referendum were announced, was the claim that the vote was decided by the older generation and that the younger generation, mainly represented by students in higher education or university, had been screwed. And yes, many of those students voted to REMAIN. I don’t think that anyone can argue otherwise. But – realistically – just how much experience do those students actually have?

Heinlein observed, many years ago, that old age is not an accomplishment and youth is not a sin. And he was right. As Asimov noted, being young is a crime most people are guilty of at some point in their lives. But while the young often have energy and enthusiasm, the old often have more experience and understanding of the world around them. A man in his late sixties, like my father, will have seen and done far more than a youth of eighteen years. My father’s hands-on knowledge of life is still enough to humble me, even though I’m 34. I don’t have a quarter of the experience he has acquired over the years.

I suppose you could say he had a head start. By the time I made the emotional connection between working and wages, he was already well aware of it. My father’s insistence that I work during university holidays didn’t sit well with me, at the time; now, I am thankful that I wasn’t in more debt. My father could, and did, offer advice on many subjects, applying a steadfast common sense that helped him to understand what was going on. He might know nothing about the details of what was going on, but the principles he had learned through life stood him in good stead.

And all of this raises the question. Could it be that the older generation, the one that rejected the EU, might have good reason to do so? Might their experience have taught them to be wary of the EU?

It frightens me, sometimes, when I think about how little I have done until recently – or indeed at all. I was 18 when I held that holiday job – to the best of my knowledge, I was one of the few students who did. (A handful of students I knew did hold part-time jobs during term.) I was 24, I think, when I first held a full-time job. I was 29, I think, when I lost my job and moved away from home to live with my wife in Malaysia. I was 31, I think, when I had to rent a house in the UK. I also had to work my way through the government bureaucracy to get my wife permission to stay in Britain – and, horror of horrors, do battle with the dreaded taxman over how much I should pay.

I could carry on, but why bother?

No amount of theoretical knowledge, I have discovered over the years, can make up for practical experience.

There’s been a truly disturbing trend, in the last couple of decades, for students to be increasingly isolated from reality. Demands for academic independence have morphed into demands for safe spaces and protection from different points of view. Freedom of thought has become demands for censorship and pleas to silence anyone who dares raise a different point of view. Idealism has replaced practicality to a truly insane degree. As each successive generation grows older, they have found life easier and easier – only to discover, perhaps too late, that it is not like that outside the universities. Young people are increasingly unaware of where things come from, at least at an emotional level, and how society works. They are hammering, carelessly, on the very foundations of our society.

Uniting Europe is an ideal. I can acknowledge that – I do acknowledge that. But the part of my mind that has been shaped by experience – mainly after leaving university – tells me that it is staggeringly impractical. Indeed, all my concerns and suspicions proved to be gross underestimations – I never realised, like so many others, just how dangerous the Greek situation had become until it was too late. Idealism must not be allowed to rule over practicality because the idealist will overlook problems until it is too late.

Perhaps I’m doing students an injustice. It has been thirteen years, more or less, since I graduated. But I would be suspicious of someone with no life experience telling me how I should live my life …

… Which explains a great deal about why the referendum went the way it did.

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60 Responses to “The Generational Gap?”

  1. Gazza June 28, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

    When I was 7-8 years old, my grandfather told me something that stuck with me my whole life. He said “There are 2 kinds of Smart. Book smart and Real world smart. Make sure you don’t mix the 2 up.” I took me ten years to full under stand what he was talking about. My grandfather was talking about common sense VS book smart. Common sense is something that only comes when out living life, you can not get it out of a book.

    • thundercloud47 June 29, 2016 at 4:23 am #

      My favorite saying about common sense is that those who deny it’s existence don’t have it.

      That’s not the exact quote and I can’t remember who said it!

  2. Trisha Simms June 28, 2016 at 10:46 pm #

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Andrew Robson (@AndyInDarmstadt) June 28, 2016 at 11:05 pm #

      75% of the under 25s voted for Remain. It is so hard, they had their future sailed down the river by the stupid, old, white people up north. Or did they? Only 36% of the under 25s voted, or, to put it another way. Only 27% of under 25s voted to stay. 83% of the over 65s voted. Who sailed who?

  3. Veraenderer June 28, 2016 at 11:12 pm #

    You forget one thing: The old grow up in another time with other ideals, with other truths and they will never completly leave that behind even if the truth aren’t true anymore.

    Yes the old have experience they know what did work and what not, but does that mean they know what will work in the future? No.

    Do the youth know what will work in the future? No.

    Who will have to live longer with the choices of today? The youth.

    • Charles Harris June 29, 2016 at 1:34 am #

      A nine year veteran of the Luftwaffe, 1936 to 1945, told me that what he learned from the war was that two pounds are heavier than one. In the idealism of youth he had flown off to war, in the wisdom of experience he had discovered that some simple truths are timeless.

      • Veraenderer June 29, 2016 at 11:24 am #

        While some are timeless some are not.

        100 years ago it wasn’t a stupid idea to get colonies only 50 years later it was better to give the colonies their independence.

        60 years ago the sun did never set upon the british empire and britain was under the 3 most powerful nations in the world, today britain is maybe under the 10 most powerful nations.

        70 years ago Europe was the center of the world, today it is not.

        A person who was born 60-80 years ago will still remember that time. They still remember the “good old times”, where they were young didn’t saw all the problems and everything was better why not go back to that time?

        While a person which was born 20 years ago doesn’t know the time where britain wasn’t in the EU. They are familiar with the EU, the advantages and disadvantages of the EU are normal to them.

        I don’t think that this generation gab came through more experience of the older I think it came through a childhood in different systems which results in a different view of the world

    • puffin muffin June 29, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

      That’s exactly my experience. My parents never had to think about, let alone deal with unemployment, poor job security, depression and divorce. My dad freely admitted he could offer no advice on these. The world has changed drastically in the last two generations and it’s clear they got left behind. The days of trade unions to which he belonged, stable employment and big government are gone.

      regarding the eu it’s funny because my father went from wanting to leave to admiring it. He thought our country backward for not fully embracing it.

    • chrishanger June 29, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

      There are certain rules, i think, that are universal. The background may change, but the rules do not.

      Chris

      • Drowe June 29, 2016 at 10:31 pm #

        That is certainly true for the laws nature provides, if that applies to any other rules is a philosophical question. I don’t believe such rules exist, though I do not dispute that they might.

        If you have any specific examples I would love to hear them, but I am very sceptical when claims of universality are made.

      • chrishanger June 30, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

        Bureaucracy has a tendency to grow/there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch/you get what you pay for/weakness invites attack/the men with the swords make the rules/etc.

        Chris

      • Drowe June 30, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

        Bureaucracy has a tendency to grow:
        That is not a universal rule at all, it’s a statistical prediction. Because most or nearly all bureaucracys grow over time, it’s safe to predict that any specific bureaucracy will follow that trend. If there is one single exception it’s no longer universal, but it’s the best candidate for a nearly universal rule.

        There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch
        This one is hard to pin down because depending on what you mean by that, the answer is different. I’m going with the most likely meaning, that if someone is offering me something for free, they expect something in return, even if it’s not made explicit. This rule is definitely not universal, people do all sorts of things for free without expecting anything in return, be it buying the tired cashier in the supermarket a coffee or the homeless guy a sandwich. Sure in a lot of cases this is true, but if you ever performed a selfless act, it’s contradicting the rule.

        You get what you pay for:
        That is true as a rule of thumb, but not universally. There are many examples where quality and price don’t correspond. For example Apple products, where you pay a lot for the brand, or articles sold much cheaper by a discounter than by the original producer, even though the product is identical (example straight out of econ 101, discounter buys in bulk at reduced cost and offsets a lower profit margin by the large number of sales)

        Weakness invites attack:
        This is impossible to prove or disprove, one can argue this is true because an invitation does not need to be followed and the lack of action does not disprove the statement. But the same can be said for this statement: Weakness invites compassion. You can call it a universal rule, but since this rule does not ensure that the cause implies the outcome I wouldn’t call it a rule at all.

        The men with swords make the rules:
        If that were true we would live in a military dictatorship instead of a democracy. The time when men with swords truly made the rules is long past, at least in the western world. Today it’s usually the men with money making the rules. But even if holding the coin purse is equated with swords, they don’t always succeed in getting the rules they want and thus it’s not universal.

        My point is, we don’t live in a world of absolutes, what is true in one part of the world doesn’t have to be true somewhere else, let alone in a different time. To me a claim for universality or an absolute in anything is a red flag. Usually it’s only an oversimplification to facilitate communication, but it can also be used to incite emotions towards irrational behaviour or at least manipulate people. The more extreme someone’s views are the more they think in absolute terms, and that leads to an either for or against me attitude.

        Drowe

      • chrishanger July 4, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

        I stand by the free lunch one . (And the others too,)

        If I invite you to dinner and I pay, the lunch isn’t ‘free’ because I paid for it. Just because you didn’t pay doesn’t mean that someone else didn’t pay.

        Chris

      • Drowe July 5, 2016 at 12:08 am #

        Chris,
        The interpretation you use is just as easily demonstrated not to be universal, nature provides a lot of things that can be eaten for lunch without anybody paying. You could of course broaden your definition of cost, but where does it stop?

        My point is not, that those rules are false. My point is, that they aren’t universal, simply based on the absolute nature of universality. A single exception is enough to prove that something isn’t universal. Those rules may or may not be generally true, I’m not contesting that, but that’s not the same as universally true. And if something isn’t universally true, it has the potential to be generally false in the future.

        It is your prerogative to stand by your opinion that the rules you mentioned are universal and to ignore any evidence to the contrary. But then it is nothing more than a belief.

        Drowe

  4. jklangford June 29, 2016 at 12:41 am #

    I enjoy reading your blog! Keep it up!

  5. Drowe June 29, 2016 at 2:09 am #

    You raise many good points here, I have a similar relationship with my father in many respects. I recently read a remark that resonated with me:

    Our parents have no idea of the struggles we face because they worked hard so we wouldn’t have to face theirs.

    Each generation has their own challenges, their own struggles. Our parents can help us and guide us and we would be fools to dismiss them out of hand. But the world is changing rapidly, truths that applied in our parent’s generation may no longer apply today. Therefore we would also be foolish if we simply accepted our parents word as truth without question. It is rare for someone young to truly change their mind about anything, but even rarer for someone who has formed his core beliefs decades ago. If the world changes so much that a core belief becomes invalidated the result is what psychologists refer to as cognitive dissonance, the effect often results in the rejection of the evidence in favour of the belief, no matter how solid the evidence against it may be.

    You ask if the experience of the older generation could be valid and their desire to leave the EU be the reasonable and better choice. Since I said it is foolish to dismiss their opinion out of hand, but blindly accepting them is foolish as well, it leaves only one reasonable alternative, make up your own mind. Ask your parents for their reasons, can they name specific reasons based on their experience or have they formed their opinion based on media reports? These are only a few of the things, people could have done before the referendum, now it is too late.

    Another factor to keep in mind is, that humans have a tendency to idealise the past. I’ve often heard this sentiment but it is rarely true. Our memories are not exactly reliant, it is easy enough to alter our memory over time. And it can easily be demonstrated. This is the reason why forensic evidence in criminal trials is more valuable than eyewitness accounts. Our memories alter themselves to better fit what we believe.

    I think we can all agree, that safe spaces in universities is incompatible with the function universities serve, thankfully I did not have to deal with that, though having studied computer sciences, I probably wouldn’t have been affected that much anyway. So I agree with you there.

    Yes the unification of Europe is an ideal. It is difficult and will take a long time, but I don’t see why it isn’t practical. In fact so far I have heard mostly insubstantial arguments that could not stand up to scrutiny from Brexit supporters. The democratic deficit is the most compelling argument, followed by regulation and bureaucracy to a lesser degree. What shocked me about the referendum was not the fact that it passed, but how easily the leave campaign manipulated public opinion. Some of the most vocal advocates especially Boris Johnson flat out lied during their campaign. The emotional response the leave campaign incited was so strong, that reason hardly played any role at all. No matter if you are for or against the EU, this should have alerted anyone who wasn’t caught up in this to the danger this rethoric poses. Instead of a reasonable and necessary discussion of the EU, about it’s advantages and disadvantages, it turned into a farce and media circus.

    You stated that the Greece situation surprised you, that is understandable, many were surprised, me included. But this is a prime example where it’s easy to blame the EU (I don’t know if you personally think the EU is to blame, but I have heard people say that), but blaming the EU does ignore the fact, that Greece increased its spending because interest rates dropped when they joined the euro zone. Could the EU have vetted those who wanted to join better? Maybe, but once they joined, Brussels could do very little. The irony is, that those who demand to reduce the power of Brussels over the the EU members, are actually preventing the EU from taking quick action to mitigate the problems.

    Earlier I read an article by Raymond Guess, professor of philosophy in Cambridge, in a German newspaper, that explained why Britain voted to leave, he cited many plausible reasons, but the gist of it was, that Britain leaving the EU had very little to do with the EU itself. The reason for the result of the referendum is, that Britain doesn’t see itself as a part of Europe, especially older generations, and that the leave campaign successfully placed blame for everything from unemployment to the declining naval construction industry on the EU, directing a lot of frustration and anger at the perceived cause, even if this has nothing to do with the EU. I am not willing to check if those assertions are true or not, but it sounds plausible to me.

    Last but not least, one of the reasons the vote ended in favour of leaving, was the relative low turnout of young voters, who could have, according to an article I read, tipped the balance in favour of remain.

    Greetings Drowe

    • thundercloud47 June 29, 2016 at 4:56 am #

      I’m in my 60’s my parents were in their 30’s and 40’s when I was born. They were born in the early 20th century. They griped at me a lot about how kids in my generation had it easy as if it was somehow my fault LOL.

      The truth was yes we had it easier in some ways but that was cancelled out by other issues. They had the great depression to deal with. I graduated into the recession and inflation of the 70’s. I also had to compete against millions of baby boomers for jobs and even housing.

      I have not forgotten my youth and how I thought and acted back then. I understand that kids these days have far different issues than I did. My son appreciates the fact that I understand these things. Some folks my age seem to think that kids should think and act like 60 year olds.

      I was having a conversation the other day with a guy my age. He was fussing about young folks driving too fast, burning rubber, and making too much noise.

      I just smiled and said to him; “We did the same thing when we were that age.” The fellow got all huffy on me and said ” Well I never did!” The issue of kids driving too fast was quickly dropped.

  6. Anarchymedes June 29, 2016 at 2:42 am #

    Someone (maybe even Buddha himself) said that if the grey hair is the man’s only virtue, then he is old in vain.
    At 40-something (a lot of something 🙂 ) I have a resume about 20 pages long, have lived and worked in Ukraine, the US Midwest, New York City, and New England, and everywhere in Australia except WA/Perth and Tasmania; in my spare time, I’ve done freelance web design/development, martial arts (even as an apprentice instructor), acting in a community theatre, computer arts, and even some extreme sports like skydiving and white-water rafting; as a Uni student, I’ve worked on a lot of construction sites and so-called collective farms, done casual gig as a security guard, walked about glueing ads to the walls, and what not; I speak three languages… And so on. And my mom, who is 70, has led a sheltered life as a Soviet equivalent of upper middle class. In her entire life, she only had two jobs, and only ever lived in two cities, both within the former USSR. She speaks only Russian. So now who has more practical experience, and better understsnding of the real life?
    There is another saying that goes, if you do the same thing for ten years, it’s not ten years of experiene; it’s one year repeated ten times.
    All of this is not related to Brexit, of course: however it came about, I agree that it was the right thing to do. But the generation gap is a tricky thing, made even more complicared by older people not wanting to acknowledge that at least some young people may have been through more in their short lives than some oldsters in their long ones.
    I’ll freely admit I have actually learned a lot from the younger people: in fact, while not being an age-denier and not pretending to be younger than I am, I occasionally find I have more in common with them than with my own age group (no, selfies, Facebook, nightclubs, and Ice the drug are not among those similarities 🙂 Neither is the need to prove myself, or constantly worrying about what others think about me: in other words, I don’t need to be ‘cool’).

  7. PhilippeO June 29, 2016 at 6:28 am #

    Seconded other commenters above (Drowe, Veraender, etc) who says that every generation has its own challenge, and accumulated experience of old sometime failed to understand different ‘current’ world.

    And i even go further, It is DUTY for the young to attempt to fix their parents mistake, improve the world, and do something to make reality closer to ideal. They may fail , They make mistake, even disastrous one. But its still their duty to do that.

    In the long run all change overall results seems to be good (+Abolitionism +Women Suffrage +etc – Abolitionism – Eugenics -etc) and create better worlds. And, even if they make mistake, its they and their children responsibilities to fix that again, just like every generation in human history.

    • PhilippeO June 29, 2016 at 6:30 am #

      (+Abolitionism +Women Suffrage +etc – Alcohol Prohibition – Eugenics -etc)

    • Veraenderer June 29, 2016 at 11:26 am #

      Totally agree.

  8. puffin muffin June 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    I still think the eu is basically a good idea handled very badly. If it wants to be a proper state, then it needs to sort that out quickly, and in particular get used to the idea it needs to protect itself by means of being “nasty” when necessary. Several modern states are made of smaller ones without huge problems (eg USA).

    I also wonder how a state with a population of 65 million can compete politically, economically and militarily against countries with 5, 10 or 20 times that number. It seems to me unlikely that we would prevail.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard June 29, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

      And too many posters here won’t understand what those “interns” did wrong. 😦

      • Drowe June 29, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

        I very much doubt that. This is evidence of bad judgment and ignorance, mostly on part of who ever came up with that stupid idea. Those who just signed it, probably didn’t expect that it would have any effect, and in most cases it probably wouldn’t have, except for making themselves the butt of jokes. As it happens, their former boss was not amused by this and decided to get rid of those who didn’t seem to appreciate the opportunity they were granted. I think that, even if it wasn’t his intention, he taught them a valuable lesson about the real world, a chance to learn from their mistake while the consequences are relatively minor.

      • Bret Wallach June 29, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

        Drowe,

        The boss might actually have been quite amused. I would’ve been – and then I also would’ve promptly got rid of them.

        To me, the idea behind an intern program is to find potential future employees at a (hopefully) lower cost than later recruitment. Interns rarely produce what they cost in the short term, even if unpaid.

        As soon as I received that petition, I’d know that I wouldn’t ever want to hire any of them, so I could save myself the cost of dealing with them immediately and perhaps hire other interns instead. Better yet, these interns would probably spread the word about what an “awful” company we were to fire them because of the petition so only those potential future recruits that have at least a tiny bit of common sense to know the petition was really, really stupid would bother applying.

      • Drowe June 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

        Bret,

        Good point. I certainly don’t fault the boss in this. Personally I would handle it differently, but since I lack the experience of being the employer, my point of view in this has limited value.

      • David Graf June 29, 2016 at 11:46 pm #

        If that company’s management saw the interns as anything other than just a source of free labor to be taken advantage of, then they could have taken five minutes to explain why the proposed changes to the dress code were a bad idea. One of the benefits of being an intern is to get some “seasoning” otherwise known as experience in how to handle yourself in a business situation. Just firing them may have been satisfying but it was the wrong way of handling the situation. If management does something that dumb, then it makes me wonder what other stupidities are they perpetrating upon others.

      • Drowe June 30, 2016 at 12:40 am #

        David,
        I see your point there, I think that would have been a better way of handling it, provided this was the only display of such behaviour. But I disagree with your judgment of the company’s view of their interns based on the available information. This course of action makes more sense if the company is looking for future employees and decided, that this kind of attitude is not what they are looking for. Better hire new interns than waisting time on those who obviously have no future within that company.

    • Anarchymedes June 30, 2016 at 2:09 am #

      I’ve done something similar in my young days: quit a job because producing the crappy-quality code my employer wanted (they just wanted things done fast and didn’t care about the quality) was ‘beneath my honour as a professional software engineer.’ I actually said these exact words to them!!! Now, twenty-something years later I can’t believe it myself.
      Or, rather, I couldn’t have, if I hadn’t seen a kid fresh from the uni stating on the first meeting that if the company wouldn’t rise its coding standards to his level they’d have to terminate his contract. Guess what? They did.
      But once again, that’s not an age or generation thing: I’ve spoken to a few people older than me who told me I was right back then, and should not compromise my professional beliefs (and sit on welfare?) Somehow – and it amazes me how – some people manage to make old bones while still basically remaining kids. And no offense to anyone, but most such people come from the so-called First World. 🙂

    • Jacqueline Harris June 30, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

      What really cracked me up was she was like I never had a job before…Never worked hard in her life and now she thinks she can change there system? And she is not even employed.

  9. Bret Wallach June 29, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    I’m on the other side of the pond so I’ve absolutely no feel for British voters, but it’s surprising to me. It seems like the BREXIT referendum was at least partly about freedom, no? And it used to be that youth would vote for freedom and old age would vote for security. So this seems sort of an inversion with youth complaining that their security has been disturbed and the older folk voting for freedom.

  10. Bret Wallach June 29, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

    “There’s been a truly disturbing trend, in the last couple of decades, for students to be increasingly isolated from reality.”

    Isn’t that the whole point of technology? Reality is scrabbling in the dirt to have a nasty, brutish, and short Hobbesian existence, technology isolates us from that and I’m quite thankful for it.

    With increasing automation, robotics, and burgeoning virtual reality coming, we may eventually lead a Matrix like existence where we choose to be (nearly) completely isolated from reality.

    Lastly, I have to laugh at a fantasy fiction writer concerned with folks being “increasingly isolated from reality.” Why do you think we read your books? I’m pretty sure most of us read them specifically because we want to escape reality for a while. That makes you part of the problem, though I really, really hope you continue to be part of the “problem” for a long time to come. 🙂

    • Anarchymedes June 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

      ‘Lastly, I have to laugh at a fantasy fiction writer concerned with folks being “increasingly isolated from reality.” Why do you think we read your books?’

      Q: What, in plain English, is the difference between creativity and mental illness?
      A: Creative people simply build castles in the sky, whereas the mentally ill actually move in and live there.
      The point: to take a break from reality now and then and see what one wants to see is necessary, if we want to be able to stomach another, say, week of this reality without resorting to chemicals too much, or shooting things up, or driving out car off a wharf, or doing other stupid things; but completely isolating oneself from reality is a different story – a story in which the fellow Don Quixote not just fight the windmills, but call each other monsters and kill each other; that is definitely a concern.

      • Bret Wallach June 30, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

        Ah well, I guess I’m mentally ill then as I try to spend as much time in the “castles in the sky” that I build. Sweet delusions and nice narratives are where I reside and fantasy fiction writers help fill the library of the castles..

        My question is why would anybody actually want to interact with reality when they don’t have to?

      • Anarchymedes July 1, 2016 at 3:50 am #

        ‘My question is why would anybody actually want to interact with reality when they don’t have to?’

        The simple answer is, to feed. In order to eat, one must buy his/her food, and in order to do that, one must earn money. And in the imaginary world, one can earn only imaginary money, which will buy him/her only imaginary food. 🙂
        Ah well, maybe I am wrong, and there is a generation gap, after all: a few millenials have actually told me that ‘money isn’t a priority’ for the new generation – wheras to me, nothing is more despicable than an able-bodied, clear-minded kept man.

      • Drowe July 1, 2016 at 10:25 am #

        @Anarchymedes
        “Ah well, maybe I am wrong, and there is a generation gap, after all: a few millenials have actually told me that ‘money isn’t a priority’ for the new generation – wheras to me, nothing is more despicable than an able-bodied, clear-minded kept man”

        I think you misunderstand that statement. Money not being a priority, doesn’t mean that someone else should provide the money they need to live. It means that other factors are more important than money when choosing a job. There is nothing wrong with accepting a job that pays less, if you are more happy doing that than something else. They saw their parents work in jobs they hated and decided not to make the same mistake. Of course once they have children of their own, that attitude might shift.

        Switzerland recently voted on an unconditional basic income in a referendum. It didn’t pass of course, but a significant percentage of the population supported it. I’m somewhat ambivalent about it, but the idea that the basic needs would be covered for everyone does sound appealing, the reason for this is not however, that people don’t want to work, it’s the idea that freed from worrying about feeding themselves, people would pursue the career they want to pursue instead of working in jobs they hate for low wages, just to survive. There are of course a lot of reasons why this might be a terrible idea, but some of the implications are appealing. Is this a vision of a better future or a disaster waiting to happen? I don’t know, but it’s something to keep an eye on regardless.

    • Drowe June 30, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

      I’m with Anarchymedes on this, there is a difference between taking a break from reality and isolation from reality. Technology can change our reality, that Hobbesian reality you mentioned has been the only reality for most of human existence. Technology has started to change that, though many still live that short and brutal life. The complete separation from reality you suggested may one day be possible, but that time has not yet come.

      That disturbing trend of isolation from reality, is happening. It’s evident in people who think meat comes from the supermarket instead of animals, in people who believed that everyone is equal to everyone else, in people that believe they deserve success without working for it and in people who believe their sex, skin colour or money entitles them to special treatment or those who are different to be inferior. This is nothing new of course, those people have always existed, but our wealth has enabled many more people than ever before to separate themselves from reality. Most people couldn’t afford to do so in the past, and very few people outside of western nations have that luxury. And as more and more people receive a college education in subjects that are not firmly grounded in reality, where objectivity is largely impossible and everything is subject to interpretation, this will only get worse. Additionally, the political polarisation we are seeing has a similar effect, the further different political views drift apart, the more radical their thinking thinking becomes.

      • Bret Wallach June 30, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

        Drowe wrote: “That disturbing trend of isolation from reality…”

        I think the isolation from reality is fantastic and wonderful and I do it whenever possible.

        And what’s reality? Do you think you know even 1% of what’s known? Do you think humans in aggregate know even 1% of what there is to know? Given that the most knowledgeable humans only comprehend a minuscule fraction of all knowledge, does anybody really know what objective reality is?

        I don’t think we’re any more isolated from reality than in the past. We’ve always had stories and narratives and gods and religions and dogmas and customs and taboos etc. to guide us through the labyrinth of life and to isolate and protect us from the overwhelming and crushing complexity of reality.

        In fact, I’m wondering if the disturbing trend is non-isolation from reality. My progressive friends tell me that they’re certain they know exactly what objective reality is and therefore they know exactly how all 7+ billion people on the planet ought to live. If they would just allow themselves a little more isolation from that reality, I know I’d be a lot happier. 🙂

      • Drowe July 1, 2016 at 3:27 am #

        I think you mistake what I mean by this. Immersing yourself in a fantasy is not the same as isolating yourself from reality. It’s a different matter if you expect real people to behave as they do in the fantasy.

      • Anarchymedes July 2, 2016 at 3:01 am #

        I think we should differentiate between education and training. Training hones some skills – and doesn’t give monkey’s about everything else. But education, at its best, enhances the person’s awareness, broadens his/her worldview, and (sorry for waxing all poetic) lifts the soul. So it follows that someone well educated (not just well trained) will find the reality rich and interesting enough not to want to ditch it – even if it’s still challenging enough to require a break from time to time. The imagination is a wonderful thing, so long as it has the way out. In other words, turns into something real. If it gets looped inside, it’s not unlike the effect one gets by holding a microphone too close to a speaker. 🙂

        P. S. ‘There is nothing wrong with accepting a job that pays less, if you are more happy doing that than something else.’

        Tlell me about it: I’m about to do just that again. To take a job that pays way beneath my level of expertise and experience simply because it’s at the location I like. And I’ve been doing this for the past 13 years (I believe I mentioned my love for the tropical climes in response to Chris’ complaints about the Malaysian weather 🙂 ).

      • chrishanger July 4, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

        I think a lot depends on what you need.

        Library work is fun (at times) but I never made more than £1200pcm. If I had five children to support, I’d need a higher-paying job.

        Chris

      • Bret Wallach July 2, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

        Anarchymedes wrote: “So it follows that someone well educated (not just well trained) will find the reality rich and interesting enough not to want to ditch it…”

        I see the exact opposite. I find that those who are well educated and smart, particularly if their education is not in business or the hard sciences/engineering, are able to weave fantastical life narratives that seem to me to be utterly divorced from objective reality, yet coherent enough to be plausible to them. So yes, you’re right that they find their subjective “reality rich and interesting,” but it doesn’t seem to have much to do with any sort of objective reality, or at least what I think is reality.

      • Drowe July 3, 2016 at 1:06 am #

        I agree with Bret. The difference between training and education is in the context of universities largely semantics, universities provide a specialized education aimed at improving your knowledge in a specific field of study. By the age you enter college or university, you are expected to provide your own general education, while schools provide a general education aimed at giving you the basic knowledge and tools to do that. Granted, often schools fail in doing that adequately, but there was no time in history, where it was easier to educate yourself, provided you are interested.

        The real problem is a new kind of extremism that is the result of an increasing shift towards the left in academia. Liberals always were overrepresented among scientists and college professors, but there tended to be enough conservatives among them to provide diversity of opinion. But now there are some academic disciplines, where there are virtually no conservatives in the teaching body. That’s not much of a problem in STEM courses, where ideologies don’t matter all that much, where you incidently also find a better balance between conservatives and liberals. But where it does matter, such as cultural and economic subjects, where opinions and ideology do play a role, it gets increasingly harder to find that diversity. And without someone to provide different opinions, it is a reasonable assumption to see a lack of diversity of thought as the cause for what’s basically liberal extremism.

        The lack of diversity has another rather unpleasant side effect. If there is no diversity, there is no need to devolp critical thinking, a skill that should be taught in schools, but unfortunately isn’t really required to get through the curriculum in school, and in some cases is even penalized.

        To sum it up, schools don’t encourage critical thinking, while college or university assumes students have that skill. And then you have a lack of diversity among teachers, which results in an education that’s strongly biased towards liberal ideas. And biased information coupled with insufficient critical thinking could certainly explain why college students with an already liberal mindset have a tendency to become radical liberals, particularly if their teachers are already radical. And radicals aren’t well known for rationality or acceptance of different opinions.

        Greetings Drowe

    • Jacqueline Harris June 30, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

      I totally get what you mean bret. When I first started college I lived in a fantasy. School stressing me out? just don’t go. Can’t pay rent? That’s what student loans are for. Then after some time I went back to school taking forgiegn language and 18 credits determined to succeed. I got so burnt out I decided to just work. Now I am getting financially secure and taking my time in school. Gordon B Hinckely once said life is meant to be enjoyed not merely endured.
      You have to have a balance of fantasy and reality or life is not worth living. But if you can make your reality part of your fantasy like perusing something you love or want then I think it’s worth putting down the book at least sometimes.

      • Bret Wallach July 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

        I agree that one does have to confront reality in order to eat, pay rent, make ends meet, develop skills and career, etc. and I also admit I sorta forgot about that – I’m closer to retirement age than college age so at this point I have enough saved for retirement that I’ll probably be able to eat and have a place to live even if I stopped working and sheer momentum will get me through the rest of my career years. Well, probably, anyway.

        And I’ve been sloppy in my writing of these comments because the reality versus fantasy I’ve been attempting to discuss is at a higher level of complexity. The BREXIT referendum and follow-on outlook is much, much more complicated than finding one’s next meal or even any one person developing a career and that referendum is the context of my comments. One can be perfectly engaged with reality when it comes to getting up and going to work each day and yet completely isolated from reality when it comes to understanding the thinking of many millions of different people regarding the BREXIT. And I think that the wonderful books written by Chris and people like him make it far more likely that people isolate themselves from reality and withdraw into fantasy reading his books rather than do the really hard work of trying to understand the many perspectives people have about things like the BREXIT and other very complicated situations.

        Anyway, good luck with finding balance. I have daughters slightly younger than you (the older one is in college) and I do remember it being a really hard age. It gets easier.

  11. Jürgen A. July 1, 2016 at 9:31 am #

    I’m a little surprised about this pro Brexit article.
    And just because it looks like the older residents voted for Brexit?

    Did you change your opinion on independend Scotland?
    Short term consequences for the UK from Brexit looks to be dire?
    (But that might be the EU centric views I get here in Austria).

    • chrishanger July 4, 2016 at 8:55 pm #

      Scotland’s relationship with England (far more complex than any independence activist wants you to think) is nowhere near the same as the UK’s relationship with the EU.

      Chris

      • Drowe July 5, 2016 at 7:59 pm #

        That is true in both cases, the relationship between the UK and the EU is also far more complex than any independence activist wants you to think. That is incedently true for nearly all political decisions, which is why governments employ so many people whose job it is to understand the complex issues and advise politicians on policies.

  12. Tom S. July 5, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    I see quite a few who seem to believe that their parents are simply incapable of understanding these “new” problems of the current generation.

    What problems are those exactly?

    We aren’t speaking of the ability to operate the newest apple product. Though my octogenarian grandmother has no problem with her Iphone 6S, I will admit the older folks don’t put as much emphasis on staying current with the latest gadget.

    That isn’t really the sort of issue that is being addressed by this particular vote. Issues such as economics, employment, resource management or issues such as a government being responsible to its people are not new.

    These and many others are issues that have been struggled over for about as long as humans have had systems of government.

    This isn’t a question of the old versus the young. This is largely a question of who has the power to make decisions for a nation, what are their interests and what does that mean for a people.

    Can the EU work as an idea? Maybe. I would argue that the current system has little chance of surviving in the long term. That isn’t because the base idea is bad, but simply because the current implementation is flawed.

    Will Britain do better as a lone nation? Maybe. It depends on what happens moving forward. I would wager that Britain will be better at solving her own problems versus leaders who see the nation as only one part of the whole.

  13. shrekgrinch July 5, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

    Good article on the Sheer Dumbâss Nature of Millennials:

    http://nypost.com/2016/07/04/im-a-millennial-and-my-generation-sucks/

    • Drowe July 6, 2016 at 9:03 am #

      I’m sorry, but that article is a distortion of reality. It’s about as accurate as calling all libertarians anarchists, all conservatives religious nuts or all liberals social justice warriors. There are anarchists among libertarians, there are religious nuts among conservatives and there are social justice warriors among liberals, but they are a minority.

      And the generation of our parents is no different, it was them that made the decisions to take on huge national debts or to invade Iraq a second time. It was their decisions that led to the dot-com bubble and the 2008 financial crisis.

      If you look at any generation and only see their mistakes and failures, then you choose to ignore part of reality. Likewise if you are looking at a generation and only see their achievements and virtues.

      • shrekgrinch July 6, 2016 at 9:08 am #

        Nope. It is an accurate generalization that I have experienced myself. There are exceptions but that is it.

      • Drowe July 6, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

        Nope. It is an inaccurate generalization that I have experienced to be false. There are a few exceptions but that is it.

        Simply stating something is generally true based on your own limited experience, and it is limited because you can’t possibly know a representative sample of any generation, doesn’t prove anything. That’s why my opening sentence is just as invalid as yours.

        People are individuals, by grouping all people of a certain age range together and call them millenials, all you get is a whole lot of people who share exactly one trait, they have a similar age, no more no less. In that group you find so much diversity, that there is nothing more you can say about them. Doing it anyway says more about you than it says about them. I have no problem if you say it’s your opinion, you are free to believe anything you like, but stating it as a fact puts the burden of proof on you.

        Greetings Drowe

      • shrekgrinch July 6, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

        Drove, I am not sure you understand what ‘generalization’ means. It is a specific term. Because the way you are using it sounds like you mean ‘stereotype’ instead.

        And this generalization is an accurate one. I am not the only one who has experienced it with Millennials – especially at work. Millions of Boomers and GenXers have as well. While many have unwisely chose to view Mills with stereotyping, I have not and was careful to point that out.

      • Drowe July 6, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

        Generalization, as I use it, means “a proposition asserting something to be either true of all members of a class or of an indefinite part of that class” (dictionary.com).

        I actually checked if I got the meaning wrong, but I would say that is very much what I was criticizing.

        And claiming ‘I’m not the only one, millions of others think that as well’ is a very weak argument. See it from my perspective, I have not had this experience, and you are telling me this assertion as a fact, should I just take your word for it? My experiences disagree with you, so who is right?

        So far, you have not provided any evidence that supports your assertion besides an article in a newspaper that gets criticized for sensationalism and was written by a 26 year old who writes articles about things like hotdog ice cream or game of thrones. That’s not what I would call substancial.

        If you make such claims, then back them up with evidence, just strongly believing something doesn’t make it true. Especially as older generations have made such claims about younger generations for a long time

        “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”
        A quote often attributed to Sokrates to demonstrate that older generations have always complained about youths, it’s probably misattributed since it was first mentioned in 1953, but it serves my point anyway.

  14. Vapori July 6, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    Forbes disagrees with the New York Post. http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/05/16/six-reasons-millennials-are-actually-the-best-workers/#119e9143837b

    Well, there are some Problems for Menials of course there were other problems for the older generation.
    Today studying is more expensive.. and when food prices might be lower the prices for car’s fuel and housing are often more expensive. today more people studey and have to do so. Europa with it’s declining population has still a rise in students of ~1% every year with a declining population.

    The older generation has problems as well. Interest rates are pretty flat, the housing- markt is a potential bubble..and the stock exchange is quite wild. So many of the people between 50+might age quite poorly.
    More expensive but better medical care might be another worry for some of them.

    Of Course the ~30-50 generation is in the middle raising children who are more demanding then even the millennials. When they have to care for growing number for angry seniors.

    On the bright side the old ones now days are still the most wealthy seniors of all time.. just the distribution might be somewhat unjust.. or maybe not?

    The millennials are indeed the best educated generation since ever.
    With Parents wealthy enough to allow them to study without any other focus.
    actually they can at least claim to be the most intelligent generation.

    Still these generation gap is mostly the case of the different generations having different problems there is no real generation gap in most western lands.. As the personal vallues are mostly the same.

    Well the world is still rapidly changing as we live in interesting times sadly the brexit will surly add to that excitement.

    • shrekgrinch July 6, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

      Vapori: That’s what all the publications were all saying back in 2014. Now they say this:

      http://www.inc.com/jt-odonnell/3-reasons-millennials-are-getting-fired.html

      Drowe: Difference between a generalization and a stereotype. (Dictionary.com is wrong, actually)

      http://www.everydaysociologyblog.com/2012/05/understanding-generalizations-and-stereotypes.html

      My view of Millennials is formed by the generalizations that they deserve and is in fact valid. BUT, I judge individuals on an individual basis. To do otherwise would be to engage in stereotyping.

      In a nutshell, stereotyping would say, “Members of a group tend to exhibit a certain characteristic, therefore ALL members I meet of that group must do as well.” Generalizing omits the last part and replaces it with, “but not all members can be assumed to”.

      • shrekgrinch July 6, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

        Hey Chris, another comment is stuck in moderation. I think it is because I put more than one link in it. That must be what causes it because a prior comment of mine had only one link and it went through just dandy.

      • Drowe July 8, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

        I see your point, I read the article and a number of the referenced articles. My experiences are different, because the cultural differences between the US and Germany are more significant than I realized, that doesn’t mean there is no friction between the generations here, but their nature is different in many regards.

        After reading the articles, I concede that perception of millenials clearly is as you described. But there is some discrepancy between reality and perception, I’m basing this on a survey referenced in the article you posted. According to the articles, millennials aren’t bad workers, but can appear that way because of inexperience, different priorities and expectations. To me it appears to be more a cultural issue than anything else.

        There are cultural differences between each generation, but usually they are relatively small. I think in the case of millenials, at least in the US, that difference is much more significant than usual. If that is true, and I’m not saying it is, it would explain a lot, especially if neither generation is really aware of it. Just as something, that is common sense to you, may seem alien to a foreigner, it may also seem alien to a millennial. But the foreigner is much more likely to be aware that there are cultural differences, than someone who just belongs to a younger generation. Therefore a millennial may simply be unaware of things that are obvious to you. This is just a theory of course and may very well be wrong, but I think it’s a reasonable explanation.

        Greetings drowe

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