The Young and The Feckless: An Intro to Generational Angst and Analysis
Hey Bitch readers,
Welcome to The Young and The Feckless! I thought I would take this inaugural post to do a little table-setting, namely to introduce myself and to give you an idea of what the next eight weeks will have in store. My name is J. Maureen Henderson (ask what the J stands for at your own peril) and I write extensively about Generation Y/Millennial issues and youth culture more broadly, both on my own site and for True/Slant, with an emphasis on personal development (the former) and current affairs (the latter) for those of us in our twenties and thirties (or the quarter-life crisis set). I want to use this column to dig a little deeper into issues at the heart of the intersection between young adulthood and cultural, political and economic influences.
I've told this story before, but in grad school I had a professor who would respond to every intervention or speaking point from his students with, “So what?” Although it seemed rude at the time, I eventually took this response as a challenge to connect the dots behind a superficial observation, to analyze the implications beneath a factual statement and to keeping turning given information over and over like a Rubik’s Cube until I could make the small picture – big picture link. That's exactly what The Young and The Feckless aims to do for the burgeoning field of generational analysis and demographic armchair quarterbacking. But in a totally pithy, popcult referential way, of course. I wasn't born in the 80s for nothing.
Much of the writing, commentary and analysis about Gen Y simply takes the quick-and-dirty character sketch of a cohort of entitled, coddled, technological prodigies as a given, but often fails to question the assumptions inherent in painting an entire generation in such broad, homogeneous (and privileged) strokes or to make linkages between socioeconomic/sociocultural reality and its concrete and lasting effects on youthful identity and aspirations. And that's a can of worms that absolutely needs to be opened. When you combine a failure-proof upbringing, an indefinitely grim economy in which to launch one's career, a revere-scorn relationship with authority/fame and expectations of inheriting our American Dream birthright despite evidence of its increasing implausibility to the contrary, in addition to a heaping helping of existential angst, you also end up with a damn fascinating analytical powder keg. One that surely deserves to be poked with a long, pointy, intellectual stick. And who could object to a good (consensual) poking?
Check back Wednesday, when we'll discuss unpaid college internships and the lose-lose Sophie's Choice they present between padding one's resume and paying the bills. What Would Meryl Streep Do (WWMSD)?
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