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Comment: "over time, I think the wide array of skillsets [of a generalist] will actually lead to higher quality than a specialist"

There were a lot of excellent comments and discussion on "What Separates a Generalist and a Dabbler?"

I'd recommend you check them all out - lots of good insights - and I thought this one by Phaedrus ought to have its own top level post -

Mmmm excellent post! A very good question, and an intriguing style too.

I think Soham hit on an excellent point, which you touched on as well. A generalist may not have a theme for all of his generalities, but he usually does have a purpose for them. The end result of this purpose manifests in shipping, yes. But it also manifests in a consistency of various actions over time.

I’m going to pick two examples from my own life that straddle the line…

Cellphones and Sexualization

On Sex and Toys

I recently read an article on USA today that offered an interesting debate on why child sexualization is so prevalent in today’s society; as children have increasing opportunity in today’s society to access media outlets through devices such as cell phones and laptops, they are in turn subject to more of the sexual content the media has to offer. And, let’s be honest, sex is everywhere on the Internet. You can’t escape it.

I purchased my first clunky Acer laptop when I was 15 (I’ve recently upgraded to a Macbook air. I’ve never released how slow my laptop was before that). Before that, I had to do all my internet browsing on the family computer in the living room where you could always be sure someone was looking over your shoulder. The parents so worried about child sexualization only had television to deal with as a social influencer when they were children, and that TV probably only had two channels and static-inducing bunny ears. But today, hand-held min computers allow us to be constantly glued to popular media. I’ve decided to opt out of the cell phone culture for two reasons: A) it is no means a necessity to survival. Our parents did just fine without one. And B) I’m not fond of spending extra money to do everything I can do on my laptop. But now parents are buying their children cell phones in elementary school (!) for fear that they won’t be able to contact them at every second of everyday. To bring a little sociology into the argument, it would seem that today’s parent is suffering from “mean world syndrome” from watching too many television programs that depict the world in a negative light (the news, for example). In turn, such people see the world as more dangerous place than it really is. Hence, cellphones.

Being cell phone free gives me a lot time think. Like when I’m waiting for the bus, or for a friend, or for anything really, instead of checking Twitter or Facebook I’m forced to contemplate my existence. Well, usually I just have hypothetical conversations in my head, but I’m sure at some point I’ve contemplated existence while freezing at the bus stop. Perhaps I have more time to form views about my sexuality and myself. I’m rarely sad about not being beautiful because I don’t spend every spare minute being bombarded by stereotypical images of beauty and female objectification. Instead, I can create my own hierarchy of what is important in a person without being completely swayed by society. And beauty is nowhere near the top of that list. Yes, I’m no stranger to the Internet, but not having a hand-held computer forces me to think when I’m in a state of waiting.

I have to agree with the aforementioned article in that the constant bombardment of social media at every waking minute of the day does force a definition of “right” onto children and adolescents, especially considering the impressionable nature of this age group. Perhaps if we kept the cell phones away from children who are starting create opinions of themselves and society, they would be less likely to listen to the nagging voice of the media that tells them they have to be “sexy” and “irresistible”. So next time you find yourself with nothing to do, put down the social media machine and have a empirical debate of philosophy. You’ll thank me later.

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