Why do we put labels on people? Sometimes it is individual people (that are definitely a Type A) and sometimes it is groups of people.

We label politicians … liberal, moderate or conservative.

We even label CPAs … tax, audit or consulting. We’ve been doing that for years!

But what really got me thinking about labels was an article in USA Today recently – Generation Whatchamacallit (May 4, 2012). Suggestions for this “new” generation include “Generation Wii” — after the video game, and the “iGeneration” for the iPod and/or iPhone. Other possibilities are “Gen Tech,” “Digital Natives” and “Net Gen.”

The article does pose an interesting question: “What does one generation have to gain — or lose — from the name with which it’s tagged?” The article goes on to suggest that some members of any given generation really don’t want to be associated with the tag for that Generation.

I know many members of the “Silent Generation” who were anything but silent. Wasn’t that the greatest generation? Why have we now decided to call them “Silent”?  I also have met a bunch of “Gen Xers” that are more than willing to engage in a dialog about why they are NOT a “Xer.”

There also was a recent article in Fast Company –  This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business (January 9, 2012). Get this … it isn’t really a generation. Members of this “generation are any age and from any industry or profession.” What? Why do we call it a generation then? I don’t get it.

I guess we are just obsessed with labels … categorizing people … highlighting differences.

We should probably stop that. We actually have from time to time. We never hear about the “Beat Generation” much anymore. Hippie is a word you only find in history books. Do you remember when we were calling young boomers “Yuppies”? What is the point? What was the point? Did it make it a better world to slap these labels on groups of people? And by the way, when and how did “Yuppie” morph into “Boomer”? Maybe some boomer decided that he or she didn’t much care for the label.

Perhaps we should focus on what we have in common … our common values and beliefs. Maybe, just maybe, we would be more productive. At home, in social settings and at work.

Our elected representatives could try that as well, both in state houses all over the country and in Washington, D.C. A focus on the common good. A focus on – as the constitution says – “we the people.”  Not “we, the generation that is different from everyone else.”