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Brooke Shaffer

Author, Gamer, and Cat-Collector Extraordinaire

World Building: Social Life 2

Welcome back to the series on World Building. Today is part two of Social Life. In part one, we covered childhood, how your people, be they human or alien, come into existence, how they learn and interact with their society, and how they become adults.

Today we’re going to talk about adulthood, the years of your people where they are physically and mentally matured and fit enough to perform the functions that society expects them to perform in order to advance themselves or said society.

We talked a bit about how your child person becomes an adult. How is this viewed from a child’s point of view? Now that your person has become an adult, how do they view this rite of passage, whatever it may be? How do they see their child self and those years? How do they reflect back on their immaturity? How do they see other children who are about to become adults? How do they see others who have only recently become adults themselves?

How long is the adulthood of your people, compared to their overall lifespan? How do they view this time? Is it a long time, perhaps a burden, or maybe a good amount of time to accomplish one’s goals? Is it considered too short, that there is no time to do everything one wishes to do?

How are new adults treated? What rights or privileges are they granted? How do they view these rights and privileges? Are there more rights or privileges to be gained, or lost, as they get older?

What new responsibilities does a new adult take on? What role is he expected to take on in society? Does he get to choose? Has he been groomed for a particular position his whole life? How does he prepare for and step into this role? Is this role fixed, or can it change? How does it change?

What is the goal of your society at large? Materialism and accumulating stuff and wealth? Pleasing the gods? Exploring the world or other worlds? War and conquest? Something else? Within this larger goal, are there pockets of more specific expectations, within certain towns or cities? Are there pockets of dissent, who choose to live differently? How does your new adult fit into this overall goal? How does he feel about it?

Where does your adult begin his new life? How does he expect to advance his station, if at all? Is it better to stand out or blend in? What if he does the opposite?

How are younger adults treated by older adults if they excel in certain aspects, or are deficient in others? Are they ridiculed? Praised? Is there a concept of mentorship? What if a younger adult outperforms an older one? What is the social dynamic? What is expected of the two parties? Is an older adult always right? Is a younger adult always wrong?

What are the expectations for an adult to procreate, and how does it vary from people to people? Are they expected to have children continuously as soon as they are able? Are they discouraged from natural procreation in favor of other methods? Are there certain biological or sociological minimums or limits to procreation? What happens if these limits are defied, or perhaps never met?

How do your people reproduce? When or how does a person decide that it is time to engage in such behavior? If it involves another of his species, what does he look for in a mate or mates? How does he decide between multiple qualified candidates? What are the expectations of mating? What must be done to be successful? Is it done only for procreation, or is there an intimate aspect to it as well?

What expectations are there for procreation? Are children made for love, for family? Are they made in order to breed stronger generations or for other specific physical, emotional, or psychological traits?

Is it possible for your people to mate with other species? What are the limits? What are the social or political ramifications? How is a cross-breed child viewed?

What are the roles of the parent or parents? Are they permitted to raise their child as they see fit, or is it on the collective to integrate the new unit into society? What happens if a parent disagrees with this? What happens if a parent does not raise their child as expected? What if they are harsh and abusive? What if they have no interest in their child? What if they are overly-permissive and provide no discipline?

What help is available to parents? Are they expected to go it alone, or does family help out?

How do parents feel about their child growing up? Do they wish for it to be expedient, or are they unable to let go? How does the relationship change on the part of the parent? What new roles are they expected to take when their child becomes an adult? How does the dynamic change on the part of the parent? What happens if the parents are unwilling to make this change? How do the parents react if the child is unwilling to make this change? How do the parents react if, for some reason, their child cannot become an adult?

What do your people consider “success” in life? How would one be able to spot, at a glance, whether someone is successful? Or unsuccessful? How is this success achieved? When making small talk and meeting new people, what is the measure of a man? What questions are asked of him? What happens if a man’s individual sense of success does not conform to societal norms?

What happens if someone decides he does not want to have children? What if he decides he doesn’t want to take his expected place in society? How is he viewed and treated? What if he decides to proclaim his unusual lifestyle in public? Is there such a thing as corrupting the youth? How is this dealt with? How do older adults see this? How do younger adults and children see this?

How are sickness and disease treated socially? Is it just a part of life? Is it evil spirits who must be cast out? Are there literal or metaphorical leper colonies? How does your person react if someone gets sick? If it’s someone they know? What if they are the one who gets sick? How do your people react to death? Are there differences when an older adult dies compared to a younger adult? What if a child dies? What if it’s your person’s child?

How do your people respond to disaster? What social rules are suspended, and what new rules may be put in place? Are these rules sensible and practical, or merely psychological? When is a disaster declared? When is it declared to be over? How easy is the transition into and out of the disaster state, socially and psychologically? Is it different across age groups?

How does the psychology of your people change as they get older? Do they become wiser, more thoughtful, more docile? Do they become more reckless, more impulsive? Something else?

What happens when your person reaches the midpoint of his life, when he finds himself on a shorter road going forward than looking back. Is this occasion marked in some way? How does he feel about it? How do others feel about it? Are there any psychological or sociological changes when he reaches this point?

What is the relationship between an adult and his older parents? How is he expected to treat them? Is he expected to care for them unto death, or is there another system in place? What responsibilities does a person have toward his older parents? What responsibilities do older parents have toward their adult children?

So that’s the rundown on adult social life. The final social life installment will feature old age and retirement of your people.

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