The dark days of December

Every year – as the lights start to twinkle and music turns to bells and jingles, – my thoughts nearly always begin to head in a darker direction.

The rational side of my brain tells me that I have a lot to be thankful for; I have a job I enjoy, I have my health, a family I love and who loves me in return.

And yet, and yet. 

My body and brain begins to be seized by a malaise that defies rational thought. It tells me I am – contrarily – alone, unloved and destined for failure and ruin.

On the face of it, I appear unperturbed. In the office I continue as always – laughing and joking, happy to be the butt of jokes and giving as good as I get.

To friends I bump into around town, on my commute or social media, I exchange pleasantries and give the ‘same old, same old’ sort of replies.

I know most people would probably happily listen if I gave the time, but that’s yet another consequence of the illness – an assumption that you’re not worth bothering with or talking to. 

After all, who wants to listen to a torrent of ‘poor me, poor me’?

Given time, I know I’ll come out the other side. Not stronger. Not even necessarily weaker. Possibly a little dimmed.

And always resigned to the knowledge that the same thing will happen again.

Roll on spring with those daffodils and gambolling lambs ?

Why Millennials, Generation X-ers and Baby Boomers have reached their sell-by date

Stereotypical image of an older woman and younger woman in a business environment
I stumbled across an article last week, mentioning a term that was new to me, yet simultaneously enraged me: Xennial. 

Apparently, Xennials are people who straddle the Generation X and Millennial generations – born between 1977 and 1983.

The term has been ‘invented’ specifically to accommodate a group of people who don’t feel as if they fit into the X or Millennial bucket…

And this neatly sums up my irritation with the lazy way we ‘label’ people and why it has to end.

Let’s just examine this for a second: you take a group of around 7m people (in the UK) who were born between the mid-1960s and early-1980s and apparently they’re all meant to think and do things in the same way?

This group covers people who would have experienced punk at the age of 13, as well as those who experienced Pulp’s Common People and Oasis’ Roll With It at the same age. 

How can they be similar?

Baby Boomers are no different. My mum is at the front end of the so-called Boomer generation, who turned down tickets to see The Beatles live. A fellow boomer at a comparable age would had to turn down a Duran Duran gig.

Like each other? I think not…

And yet these ‘buckets’ of people are used widely – and very often pejoratively – to describe how the UK acts and thinks.

Millennials are regularly tarred with the ‘lazy’ brush, for some inexplicable reason. Boomers are all rich, while Gen X-ers are sceptical risktakers. 

As data allows us to be more nuanced about what people think and want, can we not expunge these lazy, wholly-inaccurate phrases from our language?

Why technology is really not ‘too difficult’ to try and understand

Confused: CC Image via flickr

We live in a time where the pace of change is frenetic. Twenty years ago, there was no Google and no Facebook. Amazon was still only a baby and Apple – while cool – was almost 4 years away from the launch of the iPod.

It’s 2017 and those four companies now dominate our lives. So much so that Scott Galloway has just published a book – The Four – that examines the companies and the effect they have.

The way that technology now dominates the world, it can be easy to shrug when news of the latest ‘big thing’ arrives. As we all get older, the shock of the new can be tough to cope with.

As Hitchhikers Guide author and polymath Douglas Adams once said:

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works; anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it; anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.

Should we not bother?

As someone in their mid-40s, I could be forgiven for being one of those that Adams alludes to – looking at new developments and deciding not to bother.

Scott Galloway makes this point in his book.

The 55-year-old who says (proudly) he or she doesn’t use social media, has given up or is afraid.

But – as far as I’m concerned – that’s the wrong way to look at it. When it comes to technology, it pays to understand, rather than become the expert.

Unless you’re 11 you won’t get Snapchat, but you can at least learn what it is, why it’s popular and how it works.

Scott Galloway again:

Get in the game. Download and use apps. Use every social media platform and try to understand them. Buy some keywords and post a video on Google & YouTube.

It sounds obvious, but so many people don’t try. They assume that it’s pointless. But it isn’t.

Open to all

The one brilliant thing about emerging technology is that it’s open to everyone.

  • Making and editing your own videos can be done on your own smartphone
  • A chatbot can be created in just 7 minutes using a free online product, such as Chatfuel
  • Social media can be played with for free

Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. Find the time to have a go and discover just how ‘not difficult’ things really are.