Category Archives: fit to print

what is wrong with 20-somethings today?

There is much buzz in the blogosphere this week about the New York Times article: “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” published in Sunday’s edition. The author, in a well written and articulate piece, asks: “Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?” Surprise, surprise: this 20-something disagrees with her views.

Apparently, “adults” are concerned about today’s youth because they are

  • “remain[ing] un­tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes,
  • going back to school for lack of better options,
  • traveling,
  • avoiding commitments,
  • competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs”

She backs it up with some pretty solid statistics:

  • “One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year.
  • Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once.
  • They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch.
  • Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever.”

Okay, fair enough.  I agree with all of the above – in fact I am guilty of half of those awful behaviours. So what exactly am I supposed to be doing differently?

Henig explains there is an “expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids.”  What do the stages of this “orderly progression” have in common? Well from what I can see, they benefit the generations of adults who have already completed them. They keep things on track; they keep society on the same path it has been. Question: how’s that been going?

According to Henig’s research, over half of the population is still heading that direction. So what is the problem, an increase in those who aren’t? A “trend” so to speak? Imagine what would happen if nothing ever changed…imagine the things we could accomplish with all the time we currently spend talking about how things were. Oh, the possibilities. If only…

Guilty as charged

I recently introduced my boyfriend to my family and friends. Among several entertaining (but anticipated) reactions to meeting him (the only serious relationship I’ve introduced to them and a foreigner no less), my favourite was an offering of congratulations to my mother on her daughter finally having found success. It is nice to know that I’m on the right track after years of misguided and selfish attempts to better myself.

I’m a picture of all the things wrong with today’s youth. Since leaving home I have lived in four cities in three countries. I thought I was gaining perspective and becoming a global citizen – in fact I was essentially stealing from America by not purchasing a home and contributing to a local community. I’m not married and I don’t have children. I didn’t know who I was at age 21, but I probably should have committed to raising a family and nurturing a marriage while I figured it out. And worst of all: I travel. Where to even begin? It is wrong on so many levels.

Luckily I do have one redeeming quality: I’ve worked for the same company in a highly profitable industry since I graduated with a business degree. Thankfully I have not sacrificed a comfortable lifestyle and financial independence to help others. Lord knows those Not for Profit Organizations are a selfish bunch who take advantage of naïve and idealistic youth who are willing to work for nothing. I’m glad I didn’t join all the other lazy hippies who pursued their passions – that would have been just dreadful.

Let’s move forward

According to Henig, “we’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls ‘the changing timetable for adulthood.’” She suggests we should “[rethink] our definition of normal development and… create systems of education, health care and social supports that take the new stage into account.”

To slightly contradict myself and momentarily ditch the sarcastic tone – I completely disagree (again). I think we can go too far in embracing change.

For almost every young person who “avoids commitment” and rejects the traditional path, one follows it because it is the “grown up” thing to do – that’s why it works. Both are difficult journeys, and they should be. By choosing we are growing, we are asserting our independence and learning about ourselves. If we eliminate the struggles that come with one option, no one will choose the other; and these fears about the future of society will come true.

“Every generation needs a new revolution.” — Thomas Jefferson

Bottom line: if my generation can offend my mother’s generation as much as hers offended the one before, I will be proud.

just eyeball it

You’re gonna love this new teen trend: pouring vodka directly onto your eyeball. The Daily Mail reported on the phenomenon a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s catching on in America, according to a scary report on CBS2. But why? CBS2 doesn’t actually have any attributable quotes in their segment, but they watched a lot of the YouTube videos and report that “the pain gives way to an instant high and then a deeper state of drunkenness.” [via gothamist]

Vodka Eyeballing (I stole this photo, but so did Gothamist)SERIOUSLY? Where did this come from? Well, Britain…but more specifically – what inspired someone to put vodka IN HIS EYE? Possible answers:

  1. A man promises his wife: “I will go to the pub, but I won’t drink.”
  2. A woman asks, “how much Vodka should I put in my tea?” Her friend replies, “I don’t bloody know, just eyeball it.”

Once in a while the headlines are dominated by concerns about binge drinking – new studies will come out that conveniently support the sponsoring organization’s message and we’ll search high and low for someone other than Johnny to blame for his [insert negative experience here]. Here we go again.

I should point out that “binge drinking” in the US refers to underage drinking (adults don’t binge, we network). American culture celebrates the pastime as if it were the new millennium’s answer to roller disco. Wait…it’s not new? The movie Animal House came out in 1978 (which happens to be six years before the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984).

Don’t waste your time reading scientific research on the matter, grab a cold one and turn on the TV. Channel surf until you land on a picture of Snooki getting punched in the face, but keep flipping past Intervention. Open a magazine to pictures of hot mess Lindsay Lohan or jam out to LMFAO’s song “Shots”on your iPod.

If you ain’t getting drunk get the $%&@ out the club / If you ain’t taking shots get the $%&@ out the club / If you ain’t come to party get the $%&@ out the club / Now where my alcoholics let me see yo hands up / What you drinkin on? / Jaeger bombs, lemon drops / Buttery nipples, jello shots / Kamikaze, three wise men / $%&@ed on that $%&@, get me some gin Shots

Side note – I hate Lil’ Wayne. YEEEEE-AH.

Yes, underage/binge drinking is a problem. Unfortunately it’s impossible to tell whether pop culture is the chicken or the egg.

Americans (especially the under-21 set) love to proclaim, “If you’re old enough to vote and to die for your country you are old enough to enjoy a beer.” So is lowering the age from 21 to 18 going to reduce the ratio of keg stands to football parties? The logic never quite made sense. But in case you were on the bandwagon, consider this: in the UK children age 5 and over may legally consume alcohol in their own or someone else’s home as long as they have permission from an adult.

And then they put Vodka in their eyeballs.

I’ve been an underage drinker, a fake ID carrier, a hide-in-the-bathroom-until-the-cops-leave-the-bar aficionado, and an expert at flirting with bouncers who questioned whether I was a 30 year old 5’2″ blond named Crystal (I’m not).  I’ve complained about the drinking age over many an illegally purchased beverage and begrudgingly paid a fine when I got caught. I’ve binged on more than one occasion and made some bad decisions.  I take responsibility for all of them and I can say with absolute certainty that a change in the law would not have meant a change in my behaviour (for the better, at least).  But hey, at least I never put Vodka in my eyeball.

On a serious note: everyone has been negatively affected by alcohol in some way, be it us personally or our loved ones- be it alcoholism, drunk driving, or just plain bad decisions.  I don’t mean to minimize the issue.

I highly recommend the memoir, “Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood” by Koren Zailckas.  Most everyone will relate to some aspect of her story.  I admire the courage and honesty with which she tells her story of becoming addicted to alcohol as a young girl and her struggles thereafter.