Thursday, January 27, 2005

Twixters

Meet the Twixters. This in-depth article introduces us to the stories behind the kids who move back in with their parents after college and stay there into their late 20s. What's driving 20% of 26-year-olds to live with their folks? All the usual suspects -- college debt, crummy entry-level earnings, volatility in the job market -- but I'm more fascinated by the motivations related to lifestyle choices:
"The real heavy lifting may ultimately have to happen on the level of Western culture itself. There was a time when people looked forward to taking on the mantle of adulthood. That time is past. Now the current culture trains young people to fear it. 'I don’t ever want a lawn,' says Swann. 'I don’t ever want to drive two hours to get to work. I do not want to be a parent. I mean, hell, why would I? There’s so much fun to be had while you’re young.'"
Maybe the Twixters are giving up some independence and privacy to embrace consumer culture, using money saved on rent/food/utilities to buy great toys, fancy cars and vacations. Why not take the perks of affluence without the responsibilities if it's available, right? That's not to say that the trend is driven primarily by greed:
"But whatever the cause, twixters are looking for a sense of purpose and importance in their work, something that will add meaning to their lives, and many don’t want to rest until they find it. 'They’re not just looking for a job,' Arnett says. 'They want something that’s more like a calling, that’s going to be an expression of their identity.' Hedonistic nomads, the twixters may seem, but there’s a serious core of idealism in them."
Lots of great food for thought around this concept. They believe that they should follow their passions and find the perfect work, but it's like they're waiting for it to land in their laps.

Thanks to Gwen for this great find.

12 comments:

Garth said...

Awesome article Jer! I have the distinct privilege(?) of interacting with many so-called "twixters" and it does appear to more than just a fad. Interestingly, I've also seen a growth of experiential type programs for young adults in which they may travel overseas and teach english in Korea for a year or do some type of a mission like working at an orphanage. That would be the positive side of waiting or taking a break within education. Lots of life skills are learned and cultural understandings are expanded.

However, the article focuses on the other side - and there does seem to be this weird 20-something live at home to save money while accumulating things like a flat screen (admittedly - I'd really like one) or sports car, etc. before having a steady job or income.

I know of a number of students at university/college who still do not have their BA and its been 5 or 6 years of picking away course by course.

I hope to digest the article further and comment some more! Again - great link and I may have to blog about it as well. It definitely affects how we do education and the practical end of education is definitely in demand.

G

Jeremy said...

Hey Garth, I think I'll be returning to read that one again too. It weaves some fascinating sociology into the report and raises all kinds of interesting questions about what people value. Glad you liked it -- we can both thank my friend and workmate Gwen.

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I took a year off between high school and college to volunteer for "Habitat for Humanity", and that year helped for formulate my political and world views.

I'm now a high school teacher who encourages my seniors to take a year to travel or volunteer between high school and college. A few of the parents have complained about this advice, because they fear if this happens, their children will never go to college. I still believe, however, that giving teens that chance reflect after 13 years of schooling will allow them to make a better choice in college majors. All too often, young adults become "career students" or graduate with degrees that they never intend to use, simply because they weren't ready to decide (yet) on a major.

As for living at home? Too many parents coddle their grown children's sense of entitlement. And, as a result, they keep their children in perpetual adolescence by allowing them to shrug the "mantle of adulthood" by allowing them to live at home indefinitely. IMHO, this harms rather than helps their children.

Shamash at http://shamash.typepad.com/shamash

Anonymous said...

Too many parents coddle their grown children's sense of entitlement."

Well said -- the idea of entitlement permeates the entire article, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Whats the big deal with people living with their parents? sure young people need to effectively learn how to be adults and find direction in their lives but I see nothing wrong with living with parents. In fact I think that this culture of the breaking up of families in Western society is the cause of the social ills and depression so prevalent. Theres a big difference between being dependent on your parents and simply living with them while you support yourself. Human beings are social and the family is the foundation of mental health. when people go off on their own and lose that connection with their parents (not to mention grandparents and extended family) then you have what we have today. This whole notion of "independence" is a myth. people in the west need to get over their pride and silly ideas of independence and get back to family. then mabey we can finally throw the prozac away

Jeremy said...

That's a great point -- think of all the aging boomers living alone in their 3,000+ square foot houses. Why not share resources and support each other throughout our lifespans, rather than trying to compartmentalize each life stage?

Anonymous said...

right Jeremy - it would be ideal but within the framework of modern life rare is it that people can maintain careers and strong family bonds. how can people care for their elderly parents when they have to work 40 hrs. a week and spend hours in traffic each day. there needs to be a change of values in western society and I truly hope that over time it eventually takes place. one easy thing would be for there to be a reduction in the amount of time that people are forced to spend at work!

Jeremy said...

I think you're right about the obstacles, and I might add another: mobility. Most young adults are emerging from university with student loans to pay and must often consider moving to find work in their field...especially if they come from rural areas or smaller cities with fewer professional opportunities.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that this is what the state of affairs has developed into to I think Jeremy. This whole phenomena of "twixters" has me curious though. It's seems that it's possibly an awakening (of some sort) among a new generation. Mabey we are starting to redefine what being an "adult" means, that theres more to it than simple responsibility of yourself and your kids only.

Sarah McClure said...

For all you twixters out there, there's a new magazine online that is written by, managed, and about being a Twixter.

www.twixtmagazine.com.

Enjoy!

Ebooker said...

I don't like twixterdom. My wife and I live in a 14x70 mobile home and her daughter and her husband also live here too. Privacy? forget it!! stress? plenty accusations fly and arguments rage. The husband has a job but will not try to get an apartment. Not my idea of paradise nor a walk in the park!! I think this generation needs to get over it and get out on their own. Would be advantageous for all of us. So I declare "DOWN WITH TWIXTERDOM!!!!!!