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Make the most of your twenties

Enjoying the moment at Glastonbury in 2019. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

As I turn 29, it’s tempting to see my twenties as “a decade-long defeat, a Napoleon’s-retreat-from-Moscow of financial and sexual calamity,” says James Marriott in The Times. After all, my generation typically doesn’t buy a home, get married or have a baby until our early thirties. But instead of getting gloomy about this, we should embrace the possibilities of what American sociologist Jeffrey Arnett calls “emerging adulthood”. By this he means an extension of adolescence, when “life’s best intensities” are to be found – worrying about how you’re living your life and pursuing deep friendships. In this respect, “I’m glad my life still resembles the life I was living 10 years ago”.

Stop playing the generation game

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Generational labels don’t mean anything, says Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic. Currently, baby boomers are the only living cohort defined by an actual demographic event – the postwar baby boom. All the rest have arbitrary parameters and lengths. “No official body certified these categories and verified the rationale behind them – they just eventually became accepted after getting repeated over and over.”

Besides, our strange obsession with generations only leads to stereotypes and mudslinging: “Boomers are out of touch. Gen X are apathetic. Millennials are narcissistic.” Naturally, older and younger people will always disapprove of each other, “but giving people ready-made, oversimplified labels to weaponise their disapproval does not help”. It’s a shame. Our generational warfare distracts from the fact that society is more age-segregated than ever. “We’re so busy dramatising the symbolic differences between generations that we miss the real harms of being alienated from one another.”

Stop selling us stuff we’ll never need

I’m so sick of stuff, says TV and radio presenter Adrian Chiles in The Guardian. Of course some stuff is nice to have, but I’d hazard that 70% of the stuff I own is useless: “Clothes I’ll never wear, books I’ll never read, kitchen utensils I’ll never utilise.” No doubt that figure will keep growing “until the morning of the day I shuffle off this mortal coil”. At that point 100% of the stuff I own will be totally redundant – I won’t be around to use it. “But what I will be able to do is leave it to my children to bump up the percentage of stuff useless to them that they own. And so it goes on.”

The villains are advertisers, who push at the “open door of our acquisitive instincts” and dedicate their lives “to fooling us into acquiring more”. The worst part is, those sneaky advertisers genuinely consider themselves “creatives”, as if they write plays or books or make art. “Oh, it’s art all right, the very darkest of arts.” It’s “art that so brilliantly lures fools like me into buying stuff we don’t need, or even really want, with money we often haven’t got”.