Monday, February 27, 2006

Curses - I Can Only Afford a 30GB iPod!

Kerry Howley has a nice piece up at Reason discussing the unhappiness of the present generation of young people – “Generation Debt”,as the title of a recently-published book describes we malcontented twenty-somethings. Howley rightly sees the parallels between the trend of today’s youth feeling sorry for themselves and the countless “find the negative in a positive” games played by pundits, journalists, and academics:

Here's a surefire way to pitch a book idea: Take a sign of human progress—any sign—and spin out a tale of decline. The end of hunger? Try an obesity epidemic. More options on the supermarket shelf? Call that the crippling paradox of choice. That whole overpopulation thing not panning out? Start sweating the birth dearth. But if you haven't been keeping up with the progress-as-panic publishing glut, take heart: Journalist Anya Kamenetz's first book is a veritable Cliffs Notes for the entire genre. Better yet, she focuses her efforts on the biggest bummer of all: youth.

Young people bitching about how bad things are for them is probably a tradition almost as ancient as older generations complaining about the lack of moral fiber found in the current crop of youngsters. And while I think we have some legitimate beefs with the baby boomers and their spendthrift governments that we’ll eventually be paying for through higher taxes, I just can’t find the compassion to feel that sorry for my generation of iPod-listening, cell phone-carrying, flat screen TV-watching, world travelers. We might not have the job security of Jack Nicholson’s character in About Schmidt – toiling away in an office for 30 years of boredom until retirement – but is that really what we want, anyway? I sure hope that's not the life young people today are dreaming of. Yes, we are delaying having kids and paying back student loans – but the life we’re living while we’re doing that seems far from shabby, from my perspective. Howley concludes:

The people Kamenetz interviews lack the imaginative capacity to conceive of a hell worse than a 9-to-5 temp job paying $18 an hour. Perhaps, like bulging waistlines, such conceptual boundaries are a tolerable byproduct of a nation enjoying unprecedented wealth. But as long as we, the put-upon members of the Debt Generation, are taking this moment to air our worries, here's mine: A generation nostalgic for a past that never existed might carry us back to a place we've progressed beyond. And then we'll really have something to complain about.

Read the whole thing. And for god's sake, get positive!


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