I haven’t read this now stupid-famous article.
Everybody my age has and has an opinion. I am my age and I have lots of opinions. I should have an opinion on it. I do.
Two writers I respect dearly in their 20 somethings wrote responses that were both reasonable and mildly whiny. These are just two of hundreds of articles written about how the New York Times has misrepresented the almost youth of our country. Beyond the written responses, my peers love to run up to me with their first New York Times Magazine every screaming “did you see this shit?!?!?” Eh.
I feel like from the criticism I’ve heard, and quotes that have been pulled out for me that Arnett (the psychologist who headed up the study) and Henig (the writer of the article) has done a poor job understanding the issues facing a 20 something group heading into a dying job market and using their white privilege to be comfortable while they try out different career paths besides working in offices – which are also dying of people because technology has made most offices near unnecessary. This is not the 20 something’s problem. The fact that they are waiting tables and tending bars or travelling to poor areas and teaching Math and English is not a problem. Those are fine professions. The fact that they aren’t doing what they will be doing in 20 years is not a problem.
The problem with 20 somethings is that they respect 40 year olds.
You remember when you were a senior in college and you were at some party with some freshman and the freshman started talking about how good they were at beer pong and then they told you some story about some beer pong experience they had in high school? Do you remember how the story ended? No. You know why? Because you stopped paying attention because you were like: “This fucking child doesn’t understand what they are saying and there is no way they are going to surprise me with some childish story about how they got drunk in their parent’s basement.” That’s fair. You were probably right. You might not have been. That kid with the almost facial hair and the hair that’s too long for the first time because mommy hasn’t forced him to cut it and he doesn’t need to because he’s trying to save money now, which is why he just spent $40 on alcohol tonight could have a badass story about drinking out of solo cups. Probably not. But maybe.
40 year olds like Jeffery Arnett think of us the same way. When we say we are trying to find ourselves he sees himself at our age and wishes that he had learned the things he knows now, then. I look back to every point in my life and wish I had the knowledge that I have now – that’s part of living: Regretting.
So, now Arnett is looking down at 20 somethings for shit he wishes he hadn’t done, just as we’ve all looked down at freshman for staying with their high school boyfriend, or getting too drunk, or being annoying and stupid. Part of life is hating younger people. They are stupider than you because they haven’t experienced what you have experienced. That doesn’t mean they are wrong – they are simply gaining those experiences that you already gained.
People can’t learn calculus before they learned addition. Their is no hierarchy, one just comes before the other.
Sure, Arnett is a dick for demanding that 20 somethings act differently, but we are being annoying and whiny for giving a shit what he thinks. Also, just as Arnett is painting all 20ers with the same brush in his article, we are painting the New York Times readers and writers with a broad brush by assuming that they all agree with Arnett’s “findings.”
Let’s all chill out. We’re only 20 something.