Sunday, April 20, 2014

Growing Up is For Children

To be an adult is to be scammed. Children are lied to and exploited the most, but they don't have nearly as much of a choice. When you are an adult citizen, you are compelled to breed a monster that is of very little benefit to you.

No, I'm not talking about raising a child.

When I picture the stereotypical American home (white middle class families in the suburbs, ya know), I see corporate notions of value and purpose epitomized. In other words, I see altars to demigods. When are we going to cut the bullshit and acknowledge that the marketplace is our church and consumption our religion?

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On the flip side, I have no idea what it is to be an adult. I am still in the first "quarter" half of my life (let's not be too wide-eyed and optimistic, I drink a lot (of unfiltered tap water)). I'm still new at this.

I suppose my angst and bitterness come from a childhood full of expectations, fair or unfair. We basically were taught that if we worked hard in school, got good grades, and behaved, we'd be guaranteed a successful, fulfilling adulthood. You may be thinking "child, it is more complicated and difficult than that."

Yeah, no shit. We all know that now.

We also seem to have abandoned the notion that education serves any grander purpose than putting people to work. It should be better than that, but we're too uneducated to see why.

Baby boomers and Generation Xers alike lament the idea that we Millennials have had trophies handed to us throughout our respective childhoods. We expect to be rewarded for little or no work. Those before us, after all, worked 9-5 their entire lives and only asked for two-story homes, two-car garages, lawns big enough to be mowed sitting down, multiple television sets, hundreds of channels for those television sets, surround sound speakers, swimming pools, and on-demand pizza in return. You know, it was typical hard knock suburban living.

I think the real reason we got so many trophies is because we had an abundance of cheap plastic available to us that previous generations did not have available to them. We also inherited a dying planet for similar reasons, but that's for another blog post. The trophy thing, while symptomatic of a greater issue (that being Americans value confidence more than they value expertise or technical mastery) is not as relevant as it may seem.

First of all, as one of my coworkers once put it so beautifully, "Sure, we got trophies for losing. But the kids who won? Their trophies were bigger and cooler. As a kid, you want the bigger trophy!"

Second, life is not a game. Sure, I'll grant you that games should teach us lessons about life. You have to be willing to sacrifice your personal wants and desires for the benefit of others. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how hard you try, you're going to fail. Oftentimes, you will get hurt. But one of the biggest lessons should also be "life is not a game." Winning and losing are not comparable to life and death in any facet beyond merely being two kinds of polarities.

I don't take my education for granted. I am incredibly fortunate to have grown up in a highly regarded public school district. I just wish there were more I could do to influence a change in approach to the subject of "growing up." It seems the people who claim to have the greatest handle on the "real world," (the regimented differences between childhood, growing up, and adulthood) are some of the most childish among us, and I think that means something is very wrong.

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