Goofs and Gadflies

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Silver Spoons Generation

Who do you live your life for? If you have a child, the answer is “I would die for my kid”. If you are a man in his thirties repatriated to the family home, more than likely you live for your parents. You are affected by their ascent into the octogenarian realm and all the vagaries that aging brings upon the mind-set of a parent. Since the number of adults moving back into, or in some cases never leaving the family home, has sharply increased in recent years in Canada, the question of how this affects the family dynamic is one that is increasingly being asked by academics. The questions of freedom and growth and familial responsibility all intertwine in this new dynamic. Still, there are people who have left the family home who remain heavily dependent on the support of parents, and people living in the family home who absolve themselves of all save the most basic contributions. There appears to be one standard similarity in the majority of situations falling into the multi-generational family dynamic: Today’s young adult seems unwilling to accept a significantly lower standard of living unless it is unavoidable.

Who’s to blame? As always, I blame TV. I blamed TV for my fascination with all things new and improved. Consumed with consumption, I became the vanguard for all new marketing tools. I began to look for products now bursting with more real fruit flavour. I needed the beta version of life. Everything had to be new and improved, even if the old and just plain proved worked unfailingly well. I never thought to save as a child, because saving was an impediment to consumption. How was I able to resist a GIC rate of 17% interest annually for a 5-Year Deposit? Atari, bitch. That's how. The original generation of vidiots, salivating at blinking lights and monochromatic destruction. At least we had to use our imagination with the first genesis of video games. Today's Mortal Kombat allows graphic depictions of electrified human entrails with the correct pressing of about 8 different buttons.

I blamed television for creating a generation of informed political youth. Teenagers who believed they could make a difference, and then went out and stopped a war. This is the early morally sacrosanct television that was a respected tool of education and closeness within the family unit. I liken this version of TV to thin Elvis. Parents may have shook their heads when Elvis shook his pelvis on The Ed Sullivan Show, but they were right beside their kids to tell them right from wrong. Then TV got fat. It grew as the capacity for carrying its signal grew from antennae to a system of underground cables. Unfortunately the content did not match the deliverance. There was as Bruce Springsteen said “Fifty-Seven channels and nothing's on”. This form of television consisted of cookie cutter programming focusing more on the art of the social commentary then the provocation of conversation. This is the fat Elvis, choking on a peanut butter and cream cheese sandwich.

So we are left with a new class of adult, the rise of the affluent poor adult. These are the people who have enough for a weekend of blow filled fantasy or a jaunt to Cancun or Vegas, yet who have a bank statement that is more difficult to reconcile than Elizabeth Taylor's fourth marriage. Asset light and debt heavy, these new adults are spending their days waiting until they can spend their parents inheritances. These are the adults reminding their folks to specify that "no special measures" be taken to extend their lifespan and enrolling their parents in advanced rock climbing courses at the local gym. Granted, these affluently poor adults are a *very* small portion of our generation and it is remarkable that they are even an identifiable sub-class of generation stratum. The people existed in every generation previous except we called them something else. Fuck-ups. Losers. Ne'er do wells.

Because our parents and forbearer toiled for four score and..... screw that, it was the technological age that ushered in this prosperity. We have maximized the utility of human energy and are able to extract and manipulate global resources at a heretofore untold level. The only thing our parents have failed to do is grow with this technological age. It is this generation that is so different that it has created a standard of living so attainable it makes George Jetson look like a Luddite farmer. In this vein our parents are the Luddites and we are the space aliens waving our Ipods around.

Somehow these late bloomers of the boom will find their way out of their parent's basements and into the basement apartments of the home one of their friends just bought. Life goes on. The next generation of slackers will make the former look like a group of bon vivants. These are the adults that will have never known the magnetic mystery that is the eight-track tape. They are the people who live in the Age of Pentium. The people for whom Rick Schroeder was an actor on a cop show, and not the symbol of agregious consumption. That my friends, is the nature of progress. End scene with a sepia toned Bob Dylan walking off frame, guitar slung around neck and a pile of cue cards left fallen on the street.


  • Wow. I couldn't agree more. You just have a way of "putting" it.

    By Anonymous Neena, At 8:38 AM  

  • Hi! I see on your list of books read in 2004 you had read Jitterbug Perfume. That was one of my all time favorite love stories. I know what you mean about #1 on your list. I've always found that people are suprised to find out I am Jewish. Really, I try to explain that I am more jew-ish. The way I see it, it got me through the times where I had some really tough questions (like, where does monosodium glutamate come from? And, why does pork taste better sliced thinly with BBQ Sauce?)

    If you don't mind me asking, what is the correlation between typepad and blogger?

    By Blogger Rye, At 9:54 AM  

  • Hi Rye! (hee hee it rhymes-lame, I know)

    Anyway, I LOVED Jitterbug Perfume, Alabar was just a wise, insightful guy (I guess that comes from living for a thousand + years).

    I can appreciated your jew-ish(ness). But I don't even want to be Mormon-ish. They bug me. Even though most my family is.

    The correlation between Blogger and Typepad.....I had a Blogger account, but then my sister gave me a free account at Typepad so I moved over there, they were a little more user friendly for me, and I couldn't exactly turn down my sister. Anyway (I'm makeing this too long), lots of my blog "friends" are at Blogger, and Blogger has the "browse" option? So, I like to search a few here and there, and when I find one (like yours) that really hits home, I bookmark and comment if I feel the need. There's tons of "bad" ones but occasionally one really shines (in my mind). That was yours. So I commented. Sorry for the major novel comment. Anyway, it's just a little voyeurism on my part, I guess. :-)

    By Anonymous Neena, At 10:44 AM  

  • That "Moron" and "Mormon" are separated by the absence of a single letter is not lost on me. Many times religion has served me well. Its when people start parcelling out religion and taking a carry on bag of dogmatic idioms, that I want to draw the parallel of dropping the m. I like religion when people do it wholeheartedly. I can't get with taking the convenient parts of religion and discarding what doesn't fit, if one is going to preach. If its for personal consumption then by all means take just what you need.

    As for rambling, fear not. I am pleased to have acquired a new reading list to peruse and look forward to when you complete your Top 100.

    By Blogger Rye, At 4:52 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Rye, At 4:53 PM  

  • I'm so glad you're writing again and that I know where to find you.

    By Blogger Michael Nolan, At 4:23 PM  

  • This:
    is interesting. (stolen from the archives of Sergeant Fun's blog)

    The we're young and we want it all. Now. attitude amazes/confounds me. I should have been born 30 years earlier, I think.

    Being broke is hard, but fun. My husband and I just got back from an el-cheapo Vegas trip (we actually went on one of those pretend you want a timeshare things and made $75) and we brought a cooler and our own breakfast (cheerios/cornflakes). These are the kinds of things our spend-happy friends tease us about. But... we will have our student loans paid off before we are attending a ten-year reuinion.

    We watch from the sidelines as one of our friend's buys everything he wants, regardless of what he needs, with the realization that living with your parents until you are making $75K a year can be detrimental to your personal contentedness. (But lucrative for the malls and electronic stores you frequent.)

    My soapbox just collapsed. Cheap Costco cardboard. And my tea is done.

    Thanks for an interesting post Rye.

    By Anonymous robyn, At 4:54 PM  

  • Werd, Ryan.

    TV is the devil. Even though you're Canadian, you have the right idea on the subject. Especially when it comes to American Asshole.

    ~Jay from Livejournal

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 1:58 AM  

  • Hey Jay, Glad you found the blog. I've caught your last few posts and good to see you are writing again.

    By Blogger Rye, At 10:54 AM  

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