From the NYT we have yet another fluff piece about why young people “just can’t get it together.” This is far from the first article discussing this trend, but it takes the same track as every damn one of them. Namely, “back in the day, it was a tremendous burden to get a job at 22 and work for the rest of your life, pay a mortgage, and have a family. Now, young people have independence! They don't have to conform to these outdated indicators of success!” What a load of horse shit.
The spin-masters try and fool young people into thinking that these markers of middle-class stability aren’t “worth it.” They tell us that, rather than being achievements and signs of prosperity, owning a home, being married, and raising kids is a tremendous burden and we should all be glad that we can’t afford to live this way. I'll agree that mortgages, marriages, and children certainly are a burden. Hey, life is a burden. I don’t know about you all, but I would much rather get a decent job in my 20s, work for the same company until retirement, and be “tied down” by the privilege of being able to afford a home, than be six figures in debt and live with my mom until age 40. Those stodgy old markers of the middle class sound really, really rough, I tell ya!
Fluff pieces like this continually try to convince young people that drawing out life is great. What they fail to mention is how these generations have been utterly screwed to the point of no longer being able to AFFORD what was previously a very achievable middle-class life. For as much as they discuss (without citing any evidence of causation) how progressive social factors are to account for this, it’s clear to any 20something suffering through debt slavery and a looted economy that we’ve been sold out. It's not that 20somethings are all happily rejecting marriage and a picket fence en masse. (Some of them are, for various reasons, and more power to them.) It's that very few people in their 20s can AFFORD to live like their parents and grandparents did at the same age, thanks to educational debt and a lack of decent job options. If we hadn't jacked up the cost of higher ed and destroyed manufacturing and service jobs in this country, my guess is many millions more 20somethings would be quite pleased to be living the way previous generations did.
These articles like to present delayed parenthood), living at home for years after graduation, and shitty jobs as the benefits of an enlightened society. We've all been convinced that this “freedom” is really stupendous, as a cover-up for how much we've been screwed. Purveyors of this "more freedom" lie apparently spend little time pondering the social effects of having tens of millions of young people shut out of traditional avenues of self-improvement and socialization. Used to be that getting a job and a mortgage was a great way to impart civic responsibility and a sense of collective work ethic on people. But I'm sure these things don't matter anymore, and we're all better off for being rid of this kind of "oppressive" thought.
Maybe there are a lot of people these days who think waiting until 40 to ever afford a home, kids, a spouse, is just the bee’s knees. Maybe I’m really out of touch. I can’t be the only one who wants to get started on life, rather than spend the next 20 years in purgatory. Yes, there are more “options,” and social pressure for people who no longer want “traditional” lifestyles is alleviated. This is good; no one should feel like a pariah for foregoing a cookie-cutter lifestyle.
However, when the trappings of this lifestyle—home ownership, the ability to provide for a family (if desired), disposable income—are now out of reach to millions of young people, something is very wrong. Telling us all how better off we are to be relieved of these burdens isn’t going to work. We all know that we’ve been priced out of a decent life. Young people are saddled with six-figure debt before they have a chance. The jobs that would have helped dig us out are long gone. As much as the media tries to tell us all how great and liberating it is to live in mom’s basement until age 35, I don’t think we buy it. It’s not some great social revolution that is causing people to delay adulthood, it’s economic reality. No one can fucking afford it. Just another daily reminder of how we’ve been scammed hard.