Friday, February 1, 2008

Extended Adolescence

I was listening to NPR this morning. The director of "Rock the Vote" was interviewed about harnessing the "youth vote." She was asked who was included in this demographic. Turns out, 18-29 year olds are considered "youth."

Are you kidding me? A 29 year old is a youth?

Our culture's extension of adolescence is ridiculous. I have students who call their parents for advice EVERY DAY. Legally, they are adults, but they consult their parents about course schedules, friendships, even what to eat for dinner. Their parents call the university to complain about roommate issues, course evaluations/grades, and their child's sleep schedule. It boggles the mind. I would have been mortified if my mom called ANY administrator when I was in college. Students have handed me their cell phones so I could speak to their parent.

Did you know that many Fortune 500 companies now include parents when they hire new employees? They report receiving phone calls from parents trying to negotiate salary/benefits. Parents send their child's resume. Many companies now hold parent seminars and tours. Several will even send parents a framed job offer letter.

Where are the grown ups? As much as I love Jackass, it frightens me to think of all the men that emulate 37 year old Johnny Knoxville.

Can you imagine seeing It's a Wonderful Life-era Jimmy Stewart clamping a lobster to his pimply ass? Laughing that jackal-ish cackle?

I long for the time when we all grow up and start acting our ages, with some dignity and charm. I think we may just be the most distasteful generation.


Kalin said...

I agree, in so many ways. Sometimes I wonder if those of us in education are in a better place to see what's coming... I also wonder if shows like Jackass just cater to our inner idiot -- or make it bigger? Who knows.

That said, the description of 18-29 year olds as "youths" may have more to do with generation shift than anything else. I remember reading up on Gen X and Gen Y and finding that (at 30) I'm part of the last year of Gen X. Hmmm. Can't there be a transitional generation? I'm not sure I like being categorized with either of them...

nik said...

asparagus gives me a tummy ache.