Are You Thinking Generationally?

If so, you may be doing the world a disservice.

It matters how we see the world, and especially how we see the people of the world. Stereotyping people simply because they have achieved a certain age or are positioned within a certain age group is not a helpful way of relating or ministering to them. So I was grateful to read Rebecca Onion’s excellent article condemning generational thinking as bogus science (“Against generations,” Aeon, 19 May 2015). 

Generational thinking is everywhere these days, especially in the fields of marketing and ministry. Everyone wants to know “how to reach the millennials.” But this is not a helpful way of envisioning the population or the times. Approaching people on the basis of preconceived notions based on anecdote and selective data will keep us from knowing, loving, and serving people for who they really are.

Ms. Onion explains, “generational thinking is seductive, and for some of us it confirms our preconceived prejudices, but it’s fatally flawed as a mode of understanding the world. Real life is not science fiction.”


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