Friday, December 16, 2011

The "Quarter-life Crisis"

I like the phrase.  Don't mistake it for the "mid-life crisis", only earlier.  The classic mid-life crisis comes in one's 40s or 50s and is about wearying of the duties of adulthood, of wishing life had been different, of sometimes acting on that wish, of acting foolishly and irresponsibly.  The quarter-life crisis, by contrast, is about never shouldering the duties of adulthood in the first place. 

The phrase works for me, first, because it captures something timeless about human nature.  As David Bass, its coiner, reminds us at the beginning of the piece: "Never underestimate the human proclivity for wanting more, and wanting it for free."  Truer words could not be written.  It also works because, consistent with those words, it describes something unique about our age, at least our age in the West, that is, not only the presence of, but the encouragement toward and even celebration of perpetual adolescence.  It's now OK to want more and to want it for free.

It begins as early as age 12 and ends, well, maybe never.  Like the mid-life crisis, it affects men chiefly and then women through men.  And it has consequences for our society, most of'em bad.  

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