TIME Economics

The High Cost of Heartbreak for Modern Singles

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Larry Washburn—Getty Images/fStop

Dr. Adshade has a Ph.D. from Queen’s University and currently teaches economics at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

The turmoil of ending a relationship can have a professional price tag

Almost one half of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 have never been married, while the majority of those say that they hope to marry one day (61% with absolute certainty). This suggests that there are millions of men and women in this age group who are working towards the goal of finding that one true love.

The road to marriage, however, is littered with broken hearts, as they say. This heartbreak is particularly severe for those who have been living with their romantic partner (24% of those in this age group), since those are the relationships that promise the most hope for marriage.

Heartbreak among unmarried young adults is common, with 36.5% of one study‘s participants aged 18 to 35 having experienced it at least once in the previous 20 months.

Experiencing disappointment in the search for true love is nothing new, however those in previous generations would have experienced it at a stage of their lives when those around them (parents, teachers, etc.) were likely to be sympathetic and there were few external costs.

This is much less true for modern singles, who often find themselves searching for love at the same time that they are also working hard to establish themselves in their careers. Broken hearts can’t be left at home during the work day, and the evidence suggests that employers, managers and coworkers don’t particularly appreciate them being brought to work.

In fact, it would be completely reasonable for a young ambitious single to fear the impact that a series of broken hearts could have on his or her career prospects.

Which raises an interesting point. The number one reason young singles give for not being married is that they are “not prepared financially” (34%). That justification for delaying marriage is a little difficult to understand within the context of modern marriage. Long gone are the days in which marriage meant that children would immediately follow, everyone would live on a single income and a house with a yard was the only acceptable living arrangement.

The reality is that individuals who are married are likely to achieve financial security much more quickly that those who remain unmarried, so delaying marriage for reasons of financial security doesn’t seem logical.

What does make sense, however, is that singles are unwilling to allow the turmoil that romantic relationships often bring to interfere with their path to financial security; that they worry that the search for love will lead to a broken heart, or series of broken hearts, that comes with a professional price tag.

If we really care that so many young people aren’t marrying, an argument could be made for bereavement leave for the broken hearted. Of course, for that to actually work people would have to be willing to phone in rejected and, frankly, I don’t see that happening.

Marina Adshade uses research, human insight and economic analysis to unlock the mysteries behind our actions, thoughts and preferences regarding sexual relationships, gender, love and power. She shows that every option, every decision and every outcome in the realm of sex and love is better understood through economics. Dr. Adshade has a Ph.D. from Queen’s University and currently teaches economics at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

It’s October 3rd: 19 Ways to Celebrate Mean Girls Day

Quality: Original. Film Title: Mean Girls/Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert & Amanda Seyfried. Copyright: TM&Copyright ©2003 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. For further information: please contact your local UIP Press Office.
Paramount Pictures

It's not like a regular holiday, it's a cool holiday

Every day is the perfect day to quote Mean Girls, but October 3rd is a particularly noteworthy date for fans of the 2004 hit movie. (A brief refresher: it was the day when things really started to heat up between Aaron Samuels and Cady. He asked her what day it was, and she replied, “It’s October 3rd.”)

Most fans celebrate this occasion — unofficially known as National Mean Girls Day — on social media. But we’re here to help you take your celebration off the screen and into the real world. Here, 19 ways to celebrate all day long.

  1. Start planning your sexy Halloween costume. You can be a mouse, duh!
  2. Eat lunch in the bathroom stall by yourself, just to remind you of the hard times.
  3. Go to Taco Bell, even if you’re on an all-carb diet. (Make sure to stop by Barnes and Noble on your way back to work).
  4. Make your face smell like peppermint.
  5. Polish your fertility vase of the Ndebele tribe.
  6. Eat as many cheese fries as you want. There is no limit to how many cheese fries you can have. THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST.
  7. Make sure you’re in the right school auditorium.
  8. Wear a wig made out of your mom’s chest hair.
  9. Push someone’s hair out of their face and tell them their hair looks sexy pushed back.
  10. Wear pink, even though it’s not Wednesday.
  11. Bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone will eat and be happy.
  12. Start a toaster strudel Twitter nostalgia campaign.
  13. Treat yourself to another pair of white gold hoops. Live every day like it’s Hanukkah.
  14. Spike your mocktail because you’re not a regular mom, you’re a cool mom.
  15. Purge yourself of your secrets and get a Brazilian blowout.
  16. Wear sweatpants AND a vest.
  17. Ask someone why they’re white.
  18. Use the word “grool” at least three times throughout the day.
  19. Watch a Danny DeVito movie. You love his work.

 

TIME society

The Case Against Eating Ethically-Raised Meat

Cow in shed
Rolfo—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Raising animals well ignores the other problems with raising animals for consumption

PatheosLogo_Blue

This article originally appeared on Patheos.

After writing about why atheists should be vegans, I got a lot of responses from readers who said that it’s okay to eat ethically-raised meat. Shouldn’t we pursue those, the argument goes, instead of completely abstaining from animal products? I find these arguments somewhat compelling—after all, if people with ethical concerns left the meat market, that would leave the meat market driven by people with no ethical concerns for how their meat is treated. But I’ve become convinced for a number of reasons that it’s better on the whole to completely abstain from animal products. I came across an article on The Daily Beast, though, that I thought was interesting. It briefly profiles Dan Honig, a former vegetarian with a Masters degree in bioethics who started a high-quality and purportedly ethical meat supplying company. The Daily Beast reports:

To get a Bioethics Master’s Degree at NYU, students must complete an internship. Even though [Honig's] undergraduate studies had led him to be a vegetarian, he decided to intern with a small pork producer. He was curious to see firsthand what an alternative food system looked like. In the interview for the internship, it was when Honig mentioned that he was a vegetarian that the pork producer became interested in hiring him. [...] Indeed, it was his experience working with smaller farms and meat processors that made Honig believe that there can be ethical way to eat meat. That was when he adopted his current practice of eating meat, albeit only occasionally and only when he knows where the meat came from.

It’s worth noting at the outset that I would be much happier if everyone viewed eating meat this way, and the world would be a much better place. But I think there are a lot of reasons this view is mistaken, and why even views like this shouldn’t be taken as a victory for meat-eaters.

1. Even if there can be ethical meat, it’s extremely rare. Almost all animals we farm and consume come from modern factory farms, and no one with even passing knowledge of factory farming practices could seriously maintain that they resemble ethical treatment for any sentient creature. Honig tells The Daily Beast, “It’s a system of mass torture. It’s bad for the animals and it’s bad for us.” According to the ASPCA, 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised on factory farms.

2. From any ethical system, raising animals to kill them seems morally off. Though Honig distances himself from Utilitarianism and instead endorses a duty-based ethical system, unnecessarily ending a life you have a duty toward doesn’t seem morally compatible. It’s not obvious what kind of relationship could possibly include “duty not to harm” but not “duty not to kill.” There’s a local goat farm about thirty minutes from where I live, and they pride themselves in how well they treat their goats. I was delighted that this farm existed, because it seemed like the type of place that would make animal products morally worth eating. I discovered, though, that they kill their goats, who otherwise have lived to be well into their teens, once they’re only two years old. It’s better to treat these goats well for two years than to treat them poorly for two years, but it’s still very hard to see how it can be moral to end their lives so soon if you feel like you have a duty to their wellbeing.

3. Raising animals well ignores the other problems with raising animals for consumption. Even if animals raised for food are raised and killed morally (if the latter is even possible), this still ignores the host of other issues involved in eating meat. Beef per pound has an extremely unsustainable carbon footprint and uses an inordinate amount of water. No ethical meat will be good for the environment.

4. Ethical meat is a luxury good. Honig mentions this as a problem, and I’m not sure it’s avoidable—-ethical meat is expensive and rare. It’s a luxury good. If cost is to be an argument against vegetarianism or veganism, it goes doubly for any ethical meat. The Daily Beast writes:

“We’re pretty expensive,” [Honig] says. “Our customers can demand $50 for an entree.” While he donates 1 percent of his company’s revenue in the form of beef, he thinks the solution to the problem that ethical meat is restricted to the rich will have to come in the form of social innovations.

It seems much easier, and much more ethical, though, for this social innovation to include drifting away from animal-based diets. Any solution, such as subsidizing ethical meat, could be more effective and better for the environment through subsidizing vegan goods.

5. We still don’t need to eat meat. Once we’re in the position where we no longer need animal products to survive (which I take it includes the vast majority, if not all, of anyone who is reading this blog—eating disorders, specific dietary needs, and economic restrictions aside), it becomes harder to justify this luxury. No matter how painlessly or ethically it seems you could kill an animal, it’s still the case that you’re ending a life when you don’t need to for no reason better than that you want your meal to taste a bit better.

Vlad Chituc is the editor of NonProphet Status. He is currently a researcher in psychology, philosophy, and economics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

This Chair Is Supposed to Make You Feel Less Lonely

By hugging you

anti loneliness tranquility chair by unicare japan
Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP—Getty Images

A chair that boasts a life-size fabric doll with long arms for giving sitters a big hug appears to have stolen the show at the International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo.

This $419 “tranquility chair,” manufactured by the nursing care goods company Unicare, is “designed for older people,” a spokesperson told AFP. According to the World Bank, about a quarter of Japan’s population is over 65, and the number of seniors living alone in Japan is expected to grow 54% by 2030, per The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Tokyo, Bloomberg reports.

MORE: Japan: Baby Robots Treat Depressed Seniors

MORE: How Feeling Lonely Can Shorten Your Life

TIME women

The Most Game-Changing Part of the ‘Affirmative Consent’ Law

Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.
Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014. Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis

Quinn Cummings is a writer of three books, Notes From the Underwire, The Year of Learning Dangerously and Pet Sounds.

Consent and lack of consent can look the same

If you’re interested in women’s safety in general and, specifically, women’s safety on college campuses, it’s been a noteworthy week. On Monday, the Huffington Post looked at data from 125 schools, from fiscal year 2011 through 2013, and determined that a “conservative estimate of the cases shows 13 percent of students found responsible for sexual assault were expelled; at most, 30 percent were expelled.”

Stated without the arithmetic: over the past two years, people found guilty of sexual assault – which includes rape, harassment and stalking – were, by a wide margin, allowed to continue their education on the same campus with their victims. In one case where the assault was caught on videotape, the assailant’s punishment was “expulsion after graduation.”

The policies that govern how some schools deal with rape are created and modified by the Association of Student Conduct Administration, a group that describes itself as “the premier authority in higher education for student conduct administration and conflict resolution.” The ASCA recommends that “legalistic language,” such as “rape,” “judicial,” “defense” or “guilty” should be yanked from policies and procedures. To my knowledge, the ASCA doesn’t offer suggestions about what words should be used instead.

If those responsible for student welfare were known to work in tandem with local law enforcement, semantic arguments like these would be just another example of academic nitpicking. In a recent study, however, 73% of schools surveyed had no protocols in place for working with the police and of those that do, the systems are inadequate to the task. Often, a rape victim’s one shot at justice is through a system created by ASCA, an organization whose president-elect, Laura Bennett, is quoted as saying “‘Rape’ is a legal, criminal term,” a harmless enough assertion if she didn’t go on to say, “We’re trying to continue to share we’re not court, we don’t want to be court – we want to provide an administrative, educative process.” Sadly, the “educative” outcome seems to be how to get away with raping a schoolmate.

Having a bad system in place is probably better than having no system, but that’s only from the perspective of the institution, not the victim. It’s easy to suggest that a porous response to rape allegations serves the reputation of any school where these crimes occur – or allegedly occur. Local law enforcement has to make these statistics a matter of public record, while university administrations are under a different set of rules, and, in most cases, no set of rules.

In one survey, 40% of the schools surveyed hadn’t conducted a single sexual-assault investigation in five years, which, not surprisingly, can lead to low numbers of reported sexual assaults. One theory is that an entire generation of women students believe that, as with their sisters in the armed forces, reporting sexual misdeeds is a risky and futile undertaking. A more troubling corollary is that school administrators downplay this criminal behavior as a matter of course, that anything that might smear a school’s reputation needs to be minimized for the good of all involved. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Anyone looking at the current state of administrative response to rape and sexual assault on campus could make an easy leap from benign negligence to silent conspiracy. Everyone simply understands what needs to be done, and why. A look back at how Jim Crow was allowed to fester for decades in the United States speaks to the effectiveness of this approach. As with Jim Crow, the killing of any deep-rooted collusion requires increased public awareness, individual outrage and political courage.

This week, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB967, a bill that could substantially change the nature of sexual conduct on campus and, we can only hope, across the nation. Instead of “No means no,” the new definition of consent will require “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” In short, “No means no” will be replaced with “Yes means yes.” Also, please note the word “conscious.” Anyone drugged, drunk, unconscious or asleep cannot, by definition, consent.

What’s astonishing about this legislation is not that we finally have a law to address the fundamental nature of sexual consent; what’s astonishing is that we needed a law to clarify this in the first place.

Yes, this law isn’t perfect. Unless every dorm room comes equipped with a court reporter, there will continue to be miscommunication. Still, the most important, most game-changing part of this new law may be a single phrase: Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.

This is huge. It should be the beginning of every conversation with college freshmen. High-school freshmen, while we’re at it. As Dr. Deborah Davis, J. Guillermo Villalobos and Dr. Richard Leo have written in a recent publication for the Oxford University Press:

“…the most commonly reported signal to indicate consent, used roughly equally by both men and women, was simply not resisting the sexual advances of the other person (i.e., expressing no response). Nevertheless…lack of resistance to sexual advances could have very different meanings for the two interacting individuals. It might be reflect reactions such as shock, confusion, shame, fear of repercussions of refusal, and others.”

Consent and lack of consent can look the same. A gesture or comment might seem like nothing, but it might be the one chance a woman has to stop something she no longer feels comfortable doing. And it’s important to understand that this new standard also protects men ­– men who may have thought their partners were consenting and genuinely shocked to learn otherwise. The law, and the public, must demand a new conversation for our children and for everyone’s children. When asked why so few expulsions were given out for sexually based offenses, ASCA’s Bennett said, “The worst thing we can do is tell someone they can’t go to school at our institution.”

She’s wrong. The worst thing we can tell someone is that if they’ve been sexually assaulted on campus, they’re on their own.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Behold, the World’s Largest Collection of Harry Potter Memorabilia

Rebecca Blackwell—AP

No word whether Guinness World Records sent an owl to notify him

Guinness World Records has recognized a lawyer’s Harry Potter memorabilia collection as the largest in the world at 3,097 pieces.

Menahem Asher Silva Vargas of Mexico City has spent 15 years amassing magic wands, toy figurines, and Hogwarts scarves inspired by the J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books.

“My salary, my bonuses … it all ended up here,” he told the AP.

MORE: This Discovery Brings Us One Step Closer to Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak

MORE: Harry Potter Stamps Apparently Not American Enough

TIME society

World-Famous Violinist Joshua Bell Performs in Union Station

Joshua Bell performs in Union Station in Washington, D.C. on September 30, 2014.
Joshua Bell performs in Union Station in Washington, D.C. on September 30, 2014. Tessa Berenson

In 2007, Bell posed as a street performer in the Metro, and nobody noticed him. Today, he made sure everyone did.

At first glance, Joshua Bell’s violin performance in Union Station in Washington, D.C. Tuesday afternoon bears no resemblance to his famous subway performance seven years ago.

In 2007, as part of a social experiment for a Washington Post magazine article by Gene Weingarten, the renowned violinist posed as a street performer in the Metro to see if hurried commuters could recognize beauty in their midst. He wore a baseball cap, stood by the escalators in the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in D.C., and opened his violin case for tips. (The case, by the way, that normally houses his multi-million dollar Stradivari violin.) To make a long story short: almost no one noticed him.

Today, Bell is once again playing in a train station, but this time he’s made sure people will notice. His publicist Jane Covner said that it was supposed to feel “impromptu,” but there’s nothing spontaneous about this. The performance was publicized; there’s a designated area for press marked off with red velvet ropes, and there are chairs and microphones set up where Bell performs. People begin arriving over an hour before he’s due to play, and by 12:30, there are hundreds of spectators packed into the main hall of Union Station, sitting on the hard floor, trying to squeeze close to the front along the edges of the room, and some even climbing on construction scaffolding to see over the mass of people.

Compare this to the scene in the train station seven years ago, when in his piece about the stunt, Gene Weingarten lamented, “There was never a crowd, not even for a second.”

Today Bell is playing with nine students from the National YoungArts Foundation to promote an upcoming HBO special entitled “Joshua Bell: A YoungArts MasterClass” and his new Bach album out today. So while 2007 was, according to Weingarten, an experiment in “context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste,” today was all about Bell. His documentary, his album, his performance, his celebrity.

Weingarten took the stage first, appraised the hundreds, possibly thousands of people waiting patiently for Bell—some of whom had traveled from well outside the city to come see him play — and said, “This is a lot better than the first time. A lot better, trust me.”

Better, that is, because people were actually paying attention. This performance is “a do-over for the people in Washington,” Covner said. “Not a do-over for [Bell].” And some of those Washingtonians agreed. Weingarten asked for a show of hands how many people in the audience were some of the “morons” that passed by Bell in 2007; four hands went up. “We accept your apology,” Weingarten deadpanned.

Finally, Bell and his accompanists take the stage. They begin with the first movement of the Bach violin concerto. After the 2007 performance, Weingarten wrote, “There are six moments… that Bell finds particularly painful to relive: ‘The awkward times,’ he calls them. It’s what happens right after each piece ends: nothing. The music stops. The same people who hadn’t noticed him playing don’t notice that he has finished. No applause, no acknowledgment.”

Today, after first movement, the station echoes with booming applause, whoops and cheers. Bell beams as he says, “This is more like it!”

Then, looking out at the impressive crowd, he says, “The only thing I regret is we don’t have an open violin case for tips this time.” (Last time, he made a total of $32.17.)

But how can this performance really be seen as a redo of the last one? Yes, it’s in a train station (albeit a much finer one than L’Enfant Plaza), but the 2007 performance was about whether true artistry could be appreciated without fanfare in ordinary spaces. And while Union Station may not be a grand concert hall, today people came knowing they were going to experience something beautiful, which itself defeats the entire question Weingarten initially posed: “In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?”

So today’s performance was not a redo; it was a reimagining. Bell didn’t like the answer he found last time, so today he created a different one. He wanted to prove that art could transcend, if only you give people a little nudge.

“I think the whole idea is that if you give people a chance to listen to music and let them concentrate, then it means something,” Bell told TIME afterwards. “And this shows even in a train station that people can be totally focused.”

Finally, almost a decade later, Bell got the answer he was looking for when he first donned his baseball cap and descended into the Metro.

“I thought of it as closure,” he says. “It was a perfect end.”

Then he laughs: “I don’t see myself ever doing this again.”

TIME society

‘Smart Cities’ Should Mean ‘Sharing Cities’

Medellin, Colombia
Medellín, Colombia Christian Heeb—Getty Images

When mayors and developers focus on technology rather than people, smart quickly becomes stupid

These days every city claims to be a “smart” city, or is becoming one, with heavy investments in modern information and computing technology to attract businesses and make the city competitive.

But when mayors and developers focus on technology rather than people, smart quickly becomes stupid, threatening to exacerbate inequality and undermine the social cooperation essential to successful cities. After researching leading cities around the world, we’ve concluded that truly smart cities will be those that deploy modern technology in building a new urban commons to support communal sharing.

In India, Dholera is one of 24 new smart cities planned in order to accommodate the country’s rapidly expanding population. The planned city has cleared most approvals, but is stalled with the coastal zone regulatory commission, probably because of the predicted engineering challenges and expenses of a site on salt flats with a high risk of flooding. Moreover, villagers and small-scale subsistence farmers, who inhabit the proposed site and fear eviction from their land and livelihoods, have been staging peaceful protests with support from a grassroots land rights movement.

In London too, smart-city thinking is socially dumb. Here the problem is epitomized by Tech City in the Shoreditch district. Intended as a hub for tech innovation, it has turned into an annex of the London financial complex, dominated by Google, Cisco, McKinsey, and Intel. The artists, designers, and startups that began the process of regeneration in Shoreditch have been displaced by “commercial gentrification.” Just up the road in Tottenham, the rebranding of warehouses as ‘artistic quarters’ has displaced low-rent communities in favor of bankers and financial speculation.

Demographic, economic and cultural forces are bringing humanity together in large (and growing) urban regions, particularly in the global South. The physical nature of urban space demands—and in some ways, facilitates—sharing: of resources, infrastructures, goods, services, experiences and capabilities. Today, population density and highly networked physical space are converging with new digital technologies to drive sharing in cities—particularly in novel forms online.

Unfortunately, “sharing” is often too narrowly conceived as being primarily about economic transactions. The poster-children of the sharing economy are being co-opted by the interests of venture capital and its insatiable demands for rapid growth and high-value exit-strategies. Taskrabbit, started to make it easier for neighbors to help each other out with errands and chores, is becoming a glorified temping agency leaving its participants in the same precarious boat as those on zero-hours contracts. Uber, in theory a ride-sharing company helping cut congestion, is turning into a luxury taxi company serving the global footloose elite. Lending Club is losing sight of its social purpose in providing peer-to-peer loans for those otherwise excluded, or at risk of predatory money-sharks; instead it seems to be focusing on venture loans for entrepreneurs. Airbnb, the couch-surfing website designed to personalise travel, overlooks the growing use of its platform by landlords buying up property for the purpose, and thus enabling gentrification.

In all too many cities, economic divisions are being widened and social capital destroyed due to the notion that only a competitive, wired city can survive in the cut-throat global market. This is just one of the harmful outcomes of the political ideology of neo-liberalism, the market fundamentalism that has gripped Western politics for the last three decades. The problem is not just a failure of participation — as citizens remain excluded from decision-making — but of imagination, as politicians refuse to intervene in markets except at the behest of corporate capital.

Yet there is a better way of using modern technologies to create more just, inclusive and environmentally efficient economies and societies. Humans are natural sharers. Traditional, old-fashioned face-to-face sharing still happens in communities everywhere, but it has largely broken down in modern cities in the face of commercialization of the public realm, and of rapid, destabilizing economic and technological change. All this has dissolved trust, as we spend more time working and hide from our neighbors behind our security locks and alarm systems.

Even so, new opportunities for collaboration and sharing are arising at the intersection of urban space and cyberspace. Kiva City is providing interest free loans to local social businesses. Freecycle is diverting thousands of tons of functional but unwanted things from landfill. Repair cafes, which bring together people with repair skills and those in need of help, are springing up in hundreds of cities. Garden sharing schemes like Landshare are doing the same for gardeners. Shared public Bus Rapid Transit systems are transforming cities like Medellín in Colombia by providing previously marginalized communities with access to jobs and facilities. Such communally inspired sharing is transforming norms and cultures.

New opportunities for sharing create new opportunities to enhance trust and rebuild social capital. But commercial sharing is also creating new spaces in which commercial interests can force workers into casual contracts, privatize public services and drive up land values and rents through gentrification. In these ways the emerging sharing economy can deepen both social and spatial inequalities and deliver injustice. City leaders need to support and emphasize communal models of sharing that build solidarity and spread trust. Sharing systems designed around equity and justice will naturally shift cultural values and norms towards trust and collaboration. This can deliver a further dividend, as increased trust increases social investment in public goods and the public realm.

Sharing establishes a precondition and motivation for collective political debate. The same measures that enable sharing online, also—if civil liberties are properly protected—enable collective politics online and create venues for healthy debate. In recent years, the intersections of cyberspace and urban space have spawned shared protest movements and efforts at political transformation in countries as diverse as Iceland, Tunisia, Spain, Egypt and the U.S. The Occupy movement and its precursors—such as Spain’s Indignadas—are only harbingers of the coming age of shared politics.

‘Sharing the whole city’ should become the guiding purpose of the future city. This offers a radically different vision compared with a global race to the bottom to attract footloose investment capital. It redefines what ‘smart cities’ of the future might really mean—harnessing smart technology to an agenda of sharing and solidarity, rather than the dumb approaches of competition, enclosure and division.

Julian Agyeman is a professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He tweets at @julianagyeman. Duncan McLaren is a freelance researcher and consultant, with long experience in the environmental non-profit sector. He tweets at @mclaren_erc. Their book, Sharing Cities, will be published by MIT Press in fall 2015.

This article was originally written for Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

The Right Way to Ask Boomers to Retire

Millenials Baby Boomers retirement
Jacob Wackerhausen—Getty Images

How ‘polite’ Millennials can convince a generation of workaholics to give up their jobs

Millennials (born 1982-2003) have a problem when it comes to their path to promotions and career advancement. Unless more members of the Baby Boom generation (born 1946-1964) start stepping down soon, younger generations will find themselves blocked in their careers by people who haven’t shown any inclination to leave, especially after the Great Recession devastated many Boomers’ retirement portfolios.

It’s time for Millennials to have that tough talk about retirement with Boomers. But using logic or making appeals to intergenerational fairness aren’t likely to be successful strategies. And suggesting that it’s time for Boomers to shuffle off the stage might seem selfish or cold-hearted to most members of the remarkably well-mannered Millennial generation. Nor is any suggestion that Boomers retire likely to meet with a positive response from that generation of workaholics. Instead, the talk needs to be couched in the language of Boomers and attuned to their fundamental values.

We have written three books on the Millennial generation in which we used the theory of generational cycles, first proposed in 1991 by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, to make our own predictions about America’s political future. Along the way, we studied volumes of research data, and created some of our own, on each of the current generations of Americans and the dynamics of their interactions with each other.

Boomers are an “Idealist generation” to use Strauss’ and Howe’s name for a generational archetype that is focused on deeply held ideological beliefs. Previous American Idealist generations—the Transcendental generation (born 1792-1821) and the Missionary generation (born 1860-1882)—had one key characteristic that is clearly evident in Boomer behavior today. All Idealist generations are driven by strong beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is good and evil. Members of this type of generation resist compromise and are determined to impose their beliefs on the rest of society—even if it means tearing down existing institutions.

By contrast, Millennials are a “civic generation” in Strauss’ and Howe’s categorization. Their historical predecessors were the GI generation that came of age during the Great Depression and World War II and the Republican generation that won the American Revolution and developed the constitutional order by which America has been governed since 1787. All of these civic generations can be characterized as “pragmatic idealists.” Today’s version, Millennials, is interested in working together to make the world better. It is this desire to find mutually agreeable solutions to problems that makes having the “talk” with their Boomer colleagues so hard for Millennials.

But there is a way to turn the discussion into the type of “win-win” outcome that Millennials favor. The key is to appeal to the very ideals that have driven Boomers’ lives ever since they first burst upon the nation’s consciousness in the 1960s. Since then, no matter on which side of the Cultural Revolution they have fought, Boomers have devoted themselves to their work. They are the source of the term “workaholic” and take pride in what they accomplish at work each day. They define their very self-worth by their work, leading them to start conversations with new acquaintances by asking, “So what do you do?” To suggest to Boomers that it might be time for them to retire is almost the equivalent of asking them to die—clearly not the way to start a productive conversation.

Instead, Millennials should begin the conversation by asking Boomers about their ideals and values. Get them to talk about what motivated them when they were young to make the life and career choices they did. Most Boomers love to talk about their youth. They think of it as the best time in their lives. So starting the conversation in this way is likely to make the opening of the “talk” both pleasant and productive.

The next step would be to pivot from the past into the future by asking Boomers what they believe they have yet to accomplish. This should be followed by a suggestion that now might be the time for the Boomer to take up the work that remains undone on their ideological bucket list before it is too late and they lose their ability to make a difference. Assure them that there are other people, maybe from Generation X, if not the even younger Millennial generation, that can pick up the work in which Boomers are now engaged and see it through to completion.

But, crucially, Millennials should also make it clear that no one but Boomers have the wisdom and experience, coupled with the ideals, to take on the challenges they have been too busy to tackle. At that point, moving out of their jobs—and on to their unfinished business—will become something Boomers think they should do, rather than something that is being forced upon them.

The history of previous Idealist generations underlines the importance of having these conversations sooner rather than later. Strauss and Howe, in their book Generations, summarize the very different outcomes that resulted from the choices made by members of Idealist generations at this crucial point in their lives: “Where the angry spiritualism of Transcendental youth (born 1792-1821) culminated in the apocalypse of the Civil War, the Missionaries (born 1860-1882) demonstrated how a youthful generation of muckrakers, evangelicals, and bomb-throwers could mature into revered and principled elders—wise old men and women capable of leading the young through grave peril to a better world beyond.” Members of this generation, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Douglas MacArthur, and George C. Marshall successfully mobilized the civic-minded GI generation to undertake and complete the task of remaking the world according to our democratic ideals.

By analogy, suggesting that it’s time for the current generation of Idealists, Boomers, to lead this increasingly dangerous world to a better place by putting aside their current work and taking on their last and most important challenge is the best way for Millennials to convince Boomers it’s time to move on. The current state of affairs makes it clear that it is way past time for Millennials to start this difficult conversation. Our advice to Millennials: Don’t wait another minute to have the “talk” with a Boomer you know.

Mike Hais and Morley Winograd of Mike & Morley, LLC are business partners whose combined careers include entertainment and media market research (Frank N. Magid Associates), a stint in the White House (Clinton-Gore second term), technology and communications (AT&T), and academia (USC’s Marshall School of Business and the University of Detroit). Based in Los Angeles, Mike & Morley speak, write and consult on the role of Millennials in remaking America. They are the co-authors of Millennial Makeover (2008), Millennial Momentum (2011), and Millennial Majority (2013).

This article originally appeared on Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME women

I Wrote an Article About Marriage, and All Anyone Noticed Is That I’m Fat

Galit Breen Wedding
Courtesy of Galit Breen

When I wrote my article, I included wedding photos that I had never shared online before, because of the way my body looked in them

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

My husband and I celebrated our 12th anniversary this June. We’ve had a good run despite my over-thinking and his over-scheduling, so I did what we writers do: I wrote a neat and tidy article titled “12 Secrets Happily Married Women Know.”

I was feeling especially comfortable in my skin at the time. I’ve been running and lifting and eating (mostly) well, and I’m healthy. The warmth of summer — the rays that hit me in slices throughout the day, the constant comfort of my family around me, the looseness that comes with a lack of a schedule — all wore me down, softened my edges, sent me out of my comfort zone and for one teeny tiny moment, I set aside my deeply ingrained defense mechanisms.

I had met a friend for lunch the week before. She faced me across fresh shrimp and cold beer and we talked about our children and our writing, the threads that hold us together. “I never see candid photos of you,” she mused. The hair on my arms, my shoulders, and the back of my neck stood on end. “I’m not judging,” she added, “But I noticed that you like to have control over that.”

She was absolutely right in the non-annoying way that only heart-deep friends can be.

I do like to have control over photos that are taken — and shown — of me. I’m a selfie re-taker, a Facebook un-tagger, a strategic chin-hand-child placer, and I’m (almost) always the person behind the camera, rather than the one in front of it. When you’re fat, and you don’t want to be, you memorize these tricks of the trade.

So yes, my friend was right. I am normally so very careful about the photos I share, not necessarily for privacy, but definitely for vanity.

But this summer, I was softened. And when I wrote my article, I included wedding photos that I had never shared online before.

I used to hide them because of the way parts of my body looked in them. My chin (double), my waist (wide), my arms (thick). But I included them because, without my armor, I could see what had always been there — my husband and I look so happy in them. Joyful, really, and truly in love. And that’s what my article was about, so I embedded the photos, sent my article into my editor, and really and truly didn’t think about them again.

In the body image wars that women, that I, have with ourselves — this was a win.

When my article got some traction, I decided to take a peek at the comments it was getting. This is a cardinal rule never-ever meant to be broken. But I was curious and I (quite naively) thought, Bring it. I could take whatever commenters could possibly dish about my thoughts on marriage. And this is still true. What I couldn’t take, however, is what commenters — people, human beings — said about my body.

Here are a few screen shots I captured that day, or one of the days after that I went back and looked again (and again).

I peered at comments like these through splayed fingers, counted how many “Likes” these got as opposed to how many readers told these people to stop being like “that” — whatever “that” might be. Cruel, unnecessary, fat-focused. Behind the safety of my screen, I was keeping score — for my article or against my body. Because these are the two camps that the commenters joined.

I couldn’t stop looking. “Cut it out,” my husband said, shaking his head, desperate to help. But what could he possibly do or say to soften this, or to soften me again?

I kept going back to check on it — like a tended fire that I needed to know if it would be smothered or fanned.

On good days, I started dialogue about internet comments, misogyny, and body image. On better days I began writing this article. But on hard days, which was most of them, I cried.

I cried for the words flashing through my mind — Fat. Ugly. Heifer. — and I cried for the way that I averted my eyes whenever I passed a mirror. I cried trying to figure out what my husband thought reading, seeing, feeling those words and how they would make him read, see, and feel about me. I cried for my daughters seeing those words said about their mom or ever hearing them, or even worse thinking them, about themselves.

And I cried for the desire that I had to show photos of myself today — Look! I’m “better” now! Not perfect, but not as fat as that! My self worth suddenly became entrenched in those words. I was tethered. I was also perpetuating the exact same thing those commenters were — fat is bad, body commenting is normal, and valid. I cried a lot about that.

Our society’s incessant focus on women’s bodies and the way we deem it necessary and appropriate to comment on them is, at best, misguided, and at worst, damaging.

There are very few times that I think it’s okay to comment on a woman’s body — in a complimentary or in a negative way. As a mother and as a woman, I think we all need to stop that conversation, to consider it taboo.

People say that the way we’re spoken to becomes our self-talk. In my experience this is very true. And as much as we’re loved, it’s incredibly difficult to undo this.

I can’t tell you how body talk makes every woman feel, but I can tell you that staying away from body compliments and body bashing, body noticing and body commentary leaves room for the kinds of words that we want the women — and the girls — in our lives to hear, to repeat, to have written to them by the typewriters in their own minds. And that, can’t hurt.

Galit Breen is a Minnesota writer. She has had essays published in several magazines and anthologies, co-directs the Listen to Your Mother Show in the Twin Cities, and writes for allParenting, Everyday Family, Mamalode Magazine, and The Huffington Post blogs.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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