Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Put Away Childish Things

Yes, I am jumping on the Obama bandwagon. For it was he who revived this instruction from St. Paul and told us all to well, grow up.

One thing anyone who has been shopping with a child knows is that the urge to consume - and difficulty controlling that urge - is indeed very strong in children. I want it! I want it!

And you could interpret Obama's instruction as analogous to a parent telling his or her kid to shut up because 'we already have lots of treats at home' and 'it's almost dinner time'.

Unlimited choice and personal freedom, immediate gratification of needs are the driving themes of consumerism. And it was the baby boomers - the generation who swore never to get old - whose values have been so aligned to that ideology. Boomers celebrated childishness as no other generation had before. From the right to wear jeans to the day you die to Microsoft terminology (I am the only one who thinks "My Computer" and "My Pictures" sounds a little Fisher Price?).

I do not believe it is a coincidence that Obama is seen as the first Gen X president (although he is officially a boomer). I cannot help seeing him as Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties or Saffron from Absolutely Fabulous - Gen X kids trying to teach responsibility to their Boomer parents.

Too late now. Gen X is a small cohort and is now left holding the bag until the Millenials arrive. One study I read recently shows that people growing up in recessionary times tend to be more frugal in their later years. Very interesting to see how the values of this Millenial generation will evolve.


400gtpw said...

Your Alex Keaton/Obama comparison is right on mark. But have you never heard of Generation Jones? You clearly get it, even if this is the first you are hearing about it.

Generation Jones was born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Google it and you'll see it’s gotten a lot of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) are specifically referring to Obama, born in 1961, as part of Generation Jones.

Great op-ed about GenJones this week in USA TODAY:

Martin de Jonge said...

The boomers should have listened to Neil Young a little more closely when he sang "sooner or later it all gets real". "I hope Neil Young will remember" singing that every time more news of the crumbled financial industry churns out. But I hope Obama backs off the Christianity and prayers in his speeches and in his rhetoric. He's charismatic enough to forge ahead and be a leader without appealing to religion at all, let alone a specific one.

Mr. Fulong Beach said...

I enjoyed Conan O'Brien's response to that comment by Obama, especially the Really Tall Dachshund...

Martin de Jonge said...

400gtpw, if that is your real name, this article on Generation Jones rings so true! Born in 1957, I've never felt to be a boomer. Ever. Influenced by boomers, yes, inspired by them, no doubt, more respectful of them than of those older than them, for sure. But to them we were punks. We empowered the term 'punk'. Coming of age through stagflation and hand-me-down ideals, we were the incidentals, the rejected. I'm not complaining. I seem to have made it through okay. I'm just saying that I never have felt comfortable with the generalizations people so liberally apply to those they've decided to call boomers - and, for that matter, gen-xers!

Robin said...

Yes, 400 - thanks for the heads up on gen Jones. That makes a lot of sense.

Martin - maybe the boomers should have also listed to Neil Young when he "burned his credit cards for fuel and headed out to where the pavement turns to sand"