There used to be four common life phases: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Now, there are at least six: childhood, adolescence, odyssey, adulthood, active retirement and old age. Of the new ones, the least understood is odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood...People who were born before 1964 tend to define adulthood by certain accomplishments — moving away from home, becoming financially independent, getting married and starting a family....In 1960, roughly 70 percent of 30-year-olds had achieved these things. By 2000, fewer than 40 percent of 30-year-olds had done the same.
...you can see the spirit of fluidity that now characterizes this stage....everything seems to give way to a less permanent version of itself...Dating gives way to Facebook and hooking up. Marriage gives way to cohabitation....Graduating seniors don’t find corporations offering them jobs that will guide them all the way to retirement. Instead they find a vast menu of information economy options...what we’re seeing is the creation of a new life phase, just as adolescence came into being a century ago...European nations are traveling this route ahead of us... Europeans delay marriage even longer than we do and spend even more years shifting between the job market and higher education...Someday people will look back and wonder at the vast social changes wrought by the emerging social group that saw their situations first captured by “Friends” and later by “Knocked Up.”
Monday, October 15, 2007
New phases of our lives...
NY Times columnist David Brooks muses on how the phases of our life have increased in number (PDF here). Some clips: