Thank you for being a friend.
So goes the signature line from the heart-warming lyrics of one of the top TV programs of the 1980’s. Said program actually lingered until 1992, and endures in syndicated re-runs to this day, over two decades after they finally turned off the kleg lights and a quartet of grandmothers slid their walkers off our screens. Except Betty White, who has experienced a Renaissance unseen since, well, The Renaissance.
That’s right, it’s The Golden Girls. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088526/
I’m going to cut to the chase, which is unusual for me.
Last week’s blog post, Arrested Development, posited that America’s current generation of young people are developmentally delayed. With a greater percentage of people in their late-20s still living at home, with marriage being delayed (for men) almost to age 30 and sales of video games stronger among adults rather than children, the perception of last week’s post was that our child-centric society has brought an overall diminishment of maturity in western civilization.
Besides being an extraordinarily lengthy sentence, this post would like to point out that the preceding sentence’s conclusion is inaccurate.
You see, just like Blanche, Rose and Dorothy (guided by the cutting wisdom dispensed with aplomb by Sophia, shuffling around the condo in her house coat and slippers), the rising generation really wants nothing more than good friendship.
As a person who entered the 80’s as a 1st grader and exited the 80’s driving a car, I came of age in a time when productivity and making money were the thing. Thus, my priorities were shaped by a culture in which achievement and status went hand in hand. And if a relationship had to get lost or trampled in the name of success, so be it. Competition, even greed, was good.
Today, it seems as though friendships are focal points. Productivity is no longer primary. Greed is most certainly not good. The definition of success embodied by Alex P. Keaton in the 80’s has been replaced by the cozy feel-good era of pseudo self-esteem that desires nothing so much as connection with others. Which is embodied by the upcoming film aptly entitled Touchy Feely, in which a massage therapist’s loss of her magic touch is a tragedy too impossible to bear.
Of course, when we’ve grown up receiving validation for mere appearance, why would achievement be necessary?
Not to worry. If your 29-year old is living in your basement, or if you’re a 29-year old living in a parent’s basement, things will be OK.
This week’s post refutes and rebuts last week’s Arrested Development post with the truth. Just like Betty White and the Golden Girls (except Dorothy, may she rest in peace), people are just simply living longer. Today’s 29-year old is yesterday’s 19-year old, and 1900’s 13-year old.
In 1900, an American woman’s life expectancy was 48.3. (men – 46.3)
By 1980, that life expectancy had jumped to 77. (men – 70)
Today, it sits at 80+.
You see, relative to life expectancy, those 20-somethings (or even the occasional 34 year old), are just hitting their stride. Relative to people born 100 years ago, if emotional and social development matched physical longevity, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a 28-year old to exhibit the same level of emotional control once acceptable only by an 11-year old. We’ve got more time, so why not take longer to mature?
So take that, Arrested Development. It’s not that people are lazy or immature or stupid. They are just taking a little longer to walk the road from adolescence to adulthood. And who’s to say what it means to be an adult anyway?
Just like The Golden Girls, life is about hanging out, shooting the breeze, enjoying the little things. Indeed, it’s all about being close to the ones you love and finding that deep meaningful connection. Or, at least double-digit “Likes” on Instagram.