I read an article in Philly Mag the other day that says that Young Men, ages 18-34, just aren’t behaving like adults in the way that society says they should. The Author, Sandy Hingston, cites numerous statistics that all show how young men are staying home, not getting jobs and definitely not getting married, or at least not doing those things before age 30. The big statistic that she quoted that hit home with me was this:
“Sociologists cite five “markers” or “milestones” that have traditionally defined our notion of adulthood: finishing school, moving away from the parental home, becoming financially independent, getting married, and having a child. In 1960, 65 percent of men had ticked off all five by age 30; by 2000, only a third had.”
Now, I am 24, I’ve lived away from my parent’s house since I was 19, I’ve graduated from college, I have a job, I pay my own bills, I even have a girlfriend who I’ve been dating for 4 years, and I’ve got 6 whole years before I’m 30 to get married and start having kids. With all that, it would be pretty easy for me to dismiss this whole article as the grumbling of an older generation against the younger one. I want to say: “I’m doing just fine, mom and dad, even if I didn’t walk to school uphill both ways in the snow.”
But, even with all that I have to admit that she has a point. Things are changing quite a bit in young men my age, and I’m not entirely convinced that it is for the better.
Before I go any further, I want to point out that this article is extraordinarily biased and does not take many factors into consideration in a lot of it’s points, but I don’t really want to delve too deeply into that rabbit hole. I still recommend reading it; just remember to take some of the points with a grain of salt.
The thing that made me take the article seriously wasn’t all of the statics on how young people are living with their parents longer. There are plenty of explanations for that. More and more people are staying in college longer, getting masters degrees. The economy is really tough right now and families often have to band together to make it through. I’m sure some of us are even living at home for medical reasons, taking care of our parents because we’re afraid to leave them home alone (if you’re one of these people I recommend getting your parents a Medical Alert they make the best medical alarms for seniors). All of those are totally understandable reasons for living with your parents in your 30’s. The thing that got me was that in the interviews the author conducted with people my age there was an all too familiar theme of apathy ringing in their words. It wasn’t just that they had to move home for financial reasons; it was that they didn’t care.
It’s one thing to have a hard time finding a job after college, or to fall on some hard times and have to move back home, it’s another thing to settle into the comfort of home with seemingly no desire to leave. The scary thing to me was that the apathy I saw in Hingston’s interviews wasn’t very different from the apathy I’ve seen in a lot of young men I have met.
So what do you think? Is the younger generation really just lazy? Or am I just turning into the kind of guy that tells kids to get off his lawn a little early?