Aug 25, 2010

Diagnosing twentysomethings, ctd

Jamelle Bouie adds his perspective:
I finally got around to reading The New York Times Magazine piece on the aimless 20-something, and as a somewhat aimless 20-something, it strikes me as a little blinkered. For starters, outside of a few nods to the recession, there isn't much of an effort to understand why financial independence is so hard to find. But the truth is that the recession has wrecked havoc on job and career prospects for 20-somethings.[...]

That said, my main problem with the piece was simply the fact that there wasn't much of an attempt at making class distinctions. It delves into the "extended adolescence" of relatively sheltered graduates from major universities, but what about the mass of 20-somethings who either didn't go to college or pursued degrees at community colleges and local universities?
Amanda Marcotte chimes in, and goes nuclear on some Baby Boomer:
By casting the entire situation as a matter of desire and choice, the author missed the big picture, which is that people delay adulthood because the ability to be an adult requires a certain amount of privilege increasingly unavailable to young people. I tweeted about it at the time, noting the answer to the question, “Why don’t people grow up faster?” is incredibly, stupidly simple---because they are no longer any jobs for people in their early 20s that provide the means to be a full adult. Full stop. I don’t mean that entry level jobs only pay enough for a small apartment or a simple lifestyle. Often, they don’t pay enough to cover the rent on that small apartment---if they can find those jobs in the first place---and that’s why people move back in with their parents.

Which is why I saw red when I read this smarmy, self-righteous screed from some Baby Boomer. It’s a classic example of being born on third and thinking you hit a triple. She assumes that her ability to pay rent with her first job out of college is strictly because she’s so much more fucking awesome than you spoiled kids these days, and her parents were so much more responsible than the softies of today.
Dan Drezner:
As I think about it, here are the Millennials' foundational foreign policy experiences:

1) An early childhood of peace and prosperity -- a.k.a., the Nineties;

2) The September 11th attacks;

3) Two Very Long Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq;

4) One Financial Panic/Great Recession;

5) The ascent of China under the shadow of U.S. hegemony.

From these experiences, I would have to conclude that this generation should be anti-interventionist to the point of isolationism. Then again, I'm looking at this through my own irony-drenched Gen-X eyes.
More and more it seems like the article took a small change in US culture and blew it up into a seismic anthropological shift. As far as Dan Drezner's question, I can say he's definitely on to something, though I wouldn't say "isolationist." I do sympathize a lot more with paleoconservatives and other skeptics of intervention, though I still believe it is in some cases justified.

Perhaps I should just carry more stuffed animals.

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