It's so easy to dislike Mark Zuckerberg.
All you have to do is pay attention to news about Facebook. Marky's iron grip on control of the company has turned it into a blight on society, and he doesn't seem interested in fixing it.
Or, you might know the story of how Facebook came to be (the film The Social Network does an excellent job). Not exactly a nice guy.
But we have to admit that he's smart, right? Not necessarily. For example, at the ripe age of 22, Zuck claimed:
Young people are just smarter.
Not only is that a dick thing to say, he's not even correct. Research from Harvard reveals that workers in their 40s and 50s are on average smarter than everyone else in three key areas:
1. Math: I'm still fond of quoting Chevy Chase from a classic SNL sketch: “It was my understanding there would be no math.” And despite the fact that we all have a calculator in our pockets thanks to our phone, the ability to do arithmetic in your head increases as you age, peaking in your mid-50s.
Does this skill matter given the tools we have? Actually, it can:
If can quickly do math in your head, you're less likely to be fooled by fake statistics and more likely to spot obvious errors in, say, business spreadsheets.
2. Comprehension: People in their 40s and 50s have accumulated a lot of useful knowledge on a broad range of subjects, and we're better at both comprehending and explaining complex, interrelated subjects. That skill is invaluable in a business environment.
This explains why people in their 40s and 50s make better mentors than their younger counterparts, even if the youngsters are themselves quite brilliant.
3. Creativity: As machines become a bigger part of our work lives this decade, it's creativity and imagination that matter even more than knowledge. Fortunately, creative people often do their best work while they're in their 40s and 50s.
Since creativity is the source of innovation, companies that want to remain nimble in the face of global competition might be better served if they hired more Gen-Xers and fewer Millennials.
Companies should do that, but I wouldn't necessarily count on it. The idea that younger people work better with technology is a fallacy, but if your boss believes it, you may be better off taking control of of your work and income.
Also, maybe Zuckerberg shouldn't have dropped out of Harvard. Just saying.
Odds are better than ever that your kids will return to live with you. That might not be so bad, as long as they don't walk all over you. It's best to have a frank discussion, and then put your expectations in writing.
The Practice of Purpose
“We don’t have to worry about finding our one true purpose; we can find purpose in different areas of life. In fact, purpose isn’t something we find at all. It’s something we can cultivate through deliberate action and reflection.”
Self-care is any action or behavior that helps a person avoid health problems. It also helps you sharpen your mental and physical health through better self-esteem, stress management, and overall well-being.
Down below, Trudi takes you on a trip into the world of microdosing. And in the Flashback (no pun intended), we remember a song about a drug you probably shouldn't experiment with.
Finally, if you enjoyed this issue of Further, could you do me a favor and forward it to a fellow Gen Xer? They can sign up here for their own subscription.
By Trudi Roth
Here’s a stat that might blow your mind: in the last few years, LSD use has risen by 223% for people ages 35 to 49, and 45% for 50+. Neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt speculates in Scientific American that the surge is due primarily to the popularity of microdosing.
I’m not surprised that our generation is the driver of this resurgence. After all, we put the “X” in Gen X with MDMA in the 80s, cutting our teeth as pioneers of rave culture. Plus, microdosing seems made for us — we latchkey kids were pummeled by “Just Say No” while simultaneously looking after ourselves. We get self-moderation.
So what’s the big deal about microdosing? The anecdotal benefits are plentiful, but lawmakers are still tripping, so here’s what we know.
Flashback: A brief history of psychedelics
Organic psychedelics like magic mushrooms (psilocybin) — used for centuries for spiritual and healing purposes — are having a renaissance, along with its lab-created sister, LSD.
Accidentally synthesized by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in 1938, his research and the work of other psychedelic evangelists like Timothy Leary helped paved the way to more than 1,000 scientific papers in the 1950s and 1960s about psychedelics’ potential in treating mental illness and addiction.
That ended in the early 1970s, when political and social backlash empowered Nixon to classify the drugs as Schedule 1 narcotics, even though science shows they’re non-toxic and not addictive.
The psychological promise of psychedelics is slowly starting to re-emerge, thanks to changing social mores and the legalization of other drugs, like marijuana, that have clinically proven healing effects. In the last few years, a handful of FDA-approved clinical trials are looking at the psychedelic compound in MDMA to treat PTSD, psilocybin as a treatment for depression, and LSD to defeat alcoholism.
So even though psychedelics are still technically illegal, plenty of microdosing enthusiasts anecdotally extol the benefits of a minuscule dose (1/20th to 1/10th of recreational use) every few days. They point to a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression and increased creativity and productivity — all without hallucinogenic effects.
Sounds like a solid antidote to the ennui of a pandemic, if you ask me. Then again, I prefer pursuing ego dissolution and moments of calm through meditation, another 1960s approach to chasing away the existential blues. Either way, now’s the perfect time to turn on, tune in, and drop out — in a small way.
If you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole, check out Michael Pollan's excellent book on the topic:
Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life
Third Eye Blind, 1997
If you're not a lyrics person, you might think Semi-Charmed Life is just an upbeat alternative tune from the 90s. But if you do listen, you'll hear that it's about a young couple on a crystal meth binge — definitely breaking bad. (YouTube)
Please forward this issue of Further to a friend. Thank you!