What’s all this stuff about motivation? If you ask me, this country could do with a little less motivation. The people who are causing all the trouble seem highly motivated to me. Serial killers, stock swindlers, drug dealers, Christian Republicans. I’m not sure motivation is always a good thing. You show me a lazy prick who’s lying in bed all day, watching TV, only occasionally getting up to piss, and I’ll show you a guy who’s not causing any trouble.
— George Carlin
The real issue, which he hints at while pointing out that 18-24 year old males play more daily hours of video games than 12-17 year olds, is much more compelling: we have entire generations of people who aren’t growing up because they are not going through the normal socialization process that is supposed to follow college graduation. When U.S. News estimates that 85% – !!!! – of the Spring 2011 graduating class moved back in with their parents, we have a bigger problem here than 1970s feminists making men feel all butthurt or whatever his point is.
…It’s a symptom of a larger problem: that young people are graduating college but continuing to live and act like children. Why wouldn’t they? They’re not earning anything, so they continue the Broke Undergrad lifestyle to which they are accustomed. They don’t have jobs to force them into an “adult” routine of hauling their asses to work and back every day, for better or worse. They fail to become financially or emotionally independent of their families. They lack the means to take on responsibilities like home ownership, marriage, or parenting even if they were motivated to do so. But they lack motivation because they graduate into a world that has nothing for them except “No Vacancy” signs. Twentysomethings are disturbingly immature, perhaps even more so than in past generations, because they cannot get onto the conveyor belt that takes people to the kind of job-kids-spouse-house version of adulthood that Bennett believes they need.
Yes? So? For some reason, I’m reminded of all the balding guys who used to obsessively tell me to cut my hair. I’m just sayin’, when you make adulthood sound like some sort of deranged Greek myth where you get chained to a desk and forced to eat runny shit sandwiches all day, every day for what seems like eternity, don’t blame the kids for saying thanks, Pops, but fuck that; we prefer virtual reality.
You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that kids were expected to grow up in the small towns in which they were born, do the same job their family had done for generations, and settle down with the most convenient available choice of a spouse in their immediate vicinity. We had a nice interlude of a few decades where we were free to indulge a new conception of selfhood that involved each child blazing their own unique path to adulthood, different from their parents as well as each of their siblings, but those days are gone, and we’re back to extended families (or several housemates) living together under one roof and patching together whatever part-time work they can find to pay the bills. Except now, we’ve got a lot of incredibly cool video games to distract us from how much we hate everyone else in the house. What’s the problem?
I raised my stepson from when he was two, even after his mother left us when he was fifteen. He’s twenty-one now, and still lives with me while working part-time. When his relationship with his girlfriend got serious, he asked me whether I thought it would be better for them to rent an apartment or a house. I said, “Hell, why don’t you just keep living here? Don’t be in any hurry to start paying three-quarters of your paltry income on bills; stay home and save your money. She can come live with us.” So she did. My sage advice to them was: “Don’t get pregnant, and don’t get yourselves into debt. Find work you can at least tolerate and do competently, and enjoy your life.”