It used to be that there was a clear normal outside of which lay clear tangents. In that setting, achieving a sense of individuality was a relatively straightforward matter of being gutsy enough to take a risk and step outside the mainstream These days, being different isn't so clearcut. With no one obviously dominant culture, individuality requires...


Some time ago, in order to shake things up, one had to have access to established platforms of influence. In that top-down reality, it was center versus periphery, powerful versus weak. While a select few maintained control, the rest of us did what we could to have a say in the collective conversation. Now, we’re seeing a healthy preference for...


In days gone by, achieving contentment was more cut and dried. If something wasn’t happening nearby, there's a good chance it wasn’t of concern. Feeling happy with our choices was a fairly straightforward matter of keeping our heads down and banking on the idea that there were only so many proverbial Joneses to keep up with. Fast-forward a few years to today, and we have...

In the past, belonging was determined by religion, ethnicity, geography, class, and other such traditional markers of community. Membership in one of these groups was tantamount to who we were; everything started and ended with house of worship, neighborhood, social rank, and on and on. Today, establishing belonging...


In another era, duty was about living up to an agreed upon code, one that we all learned to internalize as truth even though few of us ever had a hand in its creation. Call them shared values or merely conventions, being seen as a respected member of society meant following those rules. But the tides have turned. In place of that externally mandated sense of duty...


At one point, renewal required turning one’s world upside-down. Making a change was a high-stakes decision that involved complete transformation. When stagnation occurred and exhaustion set in, experiencing a breath of fresh air often meant converting from one way of living to another. These days, for those of us lucky enough to have freedom of choice, reinvention is...

Previously, there was room to express oneself in ways that were wholly new. When inspiration struck, it was possible to create fresh visions for all manner of cultural production that had never been seen before. Around every corner, there was uncharted creative territory. At present, though, the possibilities feel less than endless....


A few years back, whenever a sense of injustice filled the air, the natural impulse was to pit oneself against the system as a whole. Taking issue with the status quo meant rejecting it lock, stock, and barrel. We were Rebels with a capital “R” doing everything we could to make our objections known, to burn the whole thing down. More recently, rebellion has lived on as...