Headline reads: “The NATO summit comes to Chicago, no one else cares”
I can’t steal it, but here’s a picture of my newspaper clipping that is now lovingly pinned to my desk.
Let’s play best caption wins. I’ll go first: “Turtle Man looks on uncomfortably after overseeing the reunion of the long-lost Flower Cult.”
The feature article in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine has, as usual, been released early, with the hopes that it will get enough buzz that people will actually care about a publication that hasn’t been good since Adam Moss was in charge of it (for those who don’t stalk him, he is now running NYMag, which has clearly benefited hugely from his presence). This week, it’s What Is It About 20-Somethings?, as if we’re some kind of amusing trend, to be mentioned along with jeggings and dayglow accessories (which, especially when put together, are actually not that amusing if you ask me).
Flavorwire has a good rundown of all the things problematic with this article that’s worth looking at, especially the points about demographics. But from a historical angle, this period in time at which our generation is coming of age is worth exploring. I suppose it’s not Robin Marantz Henig’s fault that the article was accompanied with some of the most uninteresting pictures ever taken, which merely further the idea that 20-somethings do nothing but hang around and take pictures of themselves with weird lighting (and that the NYTimes is obsessed with hipsters). Except for this one:
This mural is right across from my house and I’ve loved it since I was a little girl. But no 20-somethings live in my neighborhood, so shockingly enough, this in no way represents the tone of the article.
Anyway, back to history:
“An understanding of the developmental profile of adolescence led, for instance, to the creation of junior high schools in the early 1900s, separating seventh and eighth graders from the younger children in what used to be called primary school. And it led to the recognition that teenagers between 14 and 18, even though they were legally minors, were mature enough to make their own choice of legal guardian in the event of their parents’ deaths. If emerging adulthood is an analogous stage, analogous changes are in the wings.”
It’s unfortunate that Henig’s rundown of the development of adolescence restricts it to the 1900s — in fact, as early as the late 1800s, the entire family structure in American society was shifting so children got more attention from their parents and were no longer treated as mini-adults, expected to work and support the family. The Teenager may not have become a marketable concept until the 1950s, and the Tween not until the 1990s, but both creations were brewing far before then.
The only other thing that really struck home was her section on how current economics may have contributed to the development of this 20-something “Emerging Adult,” because really what else is worth writing about than the recession? Not much, I’m sure. I’m also not sure if it’s as much the recession, but perhaps an overall difference in the quality of life that is attainable for our generation, as compared to the baby-boomer’s. Sometimes I wonder if we just won’t be as prosperous as they were. Henig doesn’t seem to account for the possibility that we’ll have our own 20-something children and not be able to support them. This “Emerging Adult” could merely be a fad, and not part of a changing family structure that’s here to stay for awhile. Everyone says that this recession is the worst since the Great Depression, and perhaps that’s true. But sometimes I think we don’t forget history completely, only the parts that are convenient to forget. We forget the recession in the 1970s that many of our own parents grappled with when they graduated. We also forget that when our parents were 20-somethings, a lot of them probably weren’t doing much of anything either.