The Great Millennial Re-Learning
A reader writes:
Recently I came across this blog: http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/
The title is vulgar, yes. Basically it’s a blog that helps young people figure out how to take care of their domiciles.
Then there is http://thebillfold.com/ which helps young people figure out how to manage their money.
Here is another one: http://dearcoquette.com/ This is a sex/relationship advice blog. What’s amusing is how often the advice given can be boiled down to “Be kind to one another.” (my favorite piece of advice she gave, after being asked for a new sex position: “Try the one where you make sober, unflinching eye contact with your partner while sharing a deep emotional connection.”)
You see these blogs popping up all over the place, giving basic life advice to young people about things that my parents taught me to do when I was a child. How to make a bed. How to balance a checkbook. How to treat your significant other with kindness and decency. These blogs are not marketed towards lower-income people who one might reasonably expect would need help with these life skills. They’re all written in a literate, profane, pop-culture-savvy style that is meant to appeal to someone who has been to college. And what this profusion of basic-life-skills-teaching blogs indicates to me is that middle- and upper-middle-class Boomers and Gen-Xers have utterly failed in preparing their children for the real world.
BUT–and this is important–the profusion of these blogs also indicates that the Millennials recognize how unprepared they are, and are coming together on the internet to teach each other how to live. So that fills me with hope.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
I’ve just spent some time on these blogs, and I don’t know that I have anything else to add to your own insights. Yes, they’re vulgar, and yes, it’s a scandal that these blogs exist at all (they’re almost on the level of “how to boil water” and “how to make toast”). But yeah, thank goodness these blogs are there, and I credit the Millennials who are making them happen.
Let’s think about the Boomer and Xer parents, though, who sent children out into the world without these basic life skills. Spend some time on these blogs and you may be shocked that there’s a need for them. How does this happen? Serious question. I’m not looking for groundless snark. I’d really like to know how we got here. I’m thinking about a 1987 Tom Wolfe essay in The American Spectator, called “The Great Relearning” (PDF here). In it, Wolfe said the 20th century was about exploring the idea that we could through out the wisdom of the ages and live according to our own passions. The 21st century, he predicted, would be about having to re-learn why our ancestors were right. I think Wolfe was more wrong than right. We continue to tear down all kinds of fences, because we can. Still, I think this is the kind of thing Wolfe was talking about. It turns out that people need parents, and parental wisdom, if they are going to make sense of their lives. The abdication of parents, and the role of social institutions as paternal and maternal stand-ins, indicates a loss of confidence, don’t you think? Or at least a loss of common sense.
Or have we just become so damn rich and careless that we forgot to raise our kids?