23 January 2008

Detritus of the American Dream

This is smart:

Maybe you think the American Dream is about getting a good job and earning more money than your parents. But the American Dream used to be about moving west and buying land, and now we see that as something for older generations that doesn’t apply to us. So maybe the idea of more money and better jobs is the new detritus of the American dream [...].
As I say, this is smart (even though PT isn't the first to say it) but I continue to be puzzled by her overall 'generationism' -- a word I didn't know existed until I went looking for an appropriate description of her view that Generation-Y has a fundamentally different, and better, sense of work-life balance than Generation-Boomer. I seem to know an awful lot of people my age and younger who are totally committed to working long and hard and sacrificing a personal life -- I think some of them have early retirement in mind, but this is stupid, because (1) life is not like dinnertime, where you have to eat your vegetables before you get dessert, and (2) retirement would be boring. On the other hand, everything I know about defining work success in a way that actually makes you happy, I learned from my mom. So I'm sympathetic to Penelope's vision of the future, where careers are complementary to -- not competitive with -- relationships, but I'm suspicious of the idea that all people born after 1980 have this intuition naturally built into their psyches.