Generally Speaking


“The idea that young people don’t want to work is a myth. The exception, i.e. he who is content to lay about the house, playing video games and soaking up cheap beer, is the idiotic exception. In a generation that is defined almost completely by consumerism, work is a necessity not only to attain one’s economic desires, but also to give outline to an otherwise vaporous form.” – D.A. Portoraro.

I don’t like when others speak for me. I often hear things like, “My generation… (insert generalization)” from my peers. Or people will write in the second-person, “You go to college, you get a job, you retire at 65.” Or worse, when they write in the second-person negative, “You know you can’t just not work, so you find something you like, even though it pays less.”

These people are trying to speak for me. They assume their experience is similar to everyone else’s experience. That their experience is universal. That their limitations, desires and values are universal to their generation, their peers, or their countrymen.

Well they’re not.

But maybe I’m in such a minority that I’m being unfair. Perhaps I’m being too demanding that they be more inclusive. If that’s the case, well I don’t mean to be a nag, and they can continue on with their gross generalizations. But often I get the impression that it isn’t that they are being unaccommodating, but rather, it’s that they are completely unaware that a valid, viable, healthy way of life different from their own is possible. And is a legitimate option for them and their peers.

Too often brazen careerism, hand in hand with its counterpart, consumerism, is seen as the sane, only choice. And anything else is for hippies, idealists, and immature people who need to grow up and be responsible.

The only thing such a simplistic attitude reveals is either a writer’s ignorance about the myriad ways to live a good life, or his cowardice in the face of venturing away from the herd.

My generation is ‘defined by consumerism’, Mr. Portoraro? Really?

I’m a ‘vaporous form’ without work and consumerism? I had no idea there was so little to a man.

Perhaps he comforts himself by projecting his lack of depth upon everyone else. Well sir, you are not everyone, and the circle of like-minded friends you surround yourself with are not everyone. We all don’t want the same thing. Some of us prefer to spend our time seeking truth, love, justice and beauty. – Reveling in friendship, an afternoon in the sun, and endless time to study and explore as we wish. – In an effort not to raise our paychecks, but our minds. Some of us study for our souls first, and our resumes second. There are people who don’t seek to define themselves by the title some company has bestowed upon them. There are as many ways to live as there are men.

If you disregard me in your generalizations because I’m in such a small minority, well that’s fine, I don’t mean to be a bother.

But if you do it because you think your generalizations are true, and that your way is the only right way, well then, perhaps you’re right after all. -That without a career and gadgets, as a man, you’re no more than a vaporous form.

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  1. bigato
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I’m 30 and all of my life until now I remember the feeling of people looking at me as a child that is yet to “grow”. Maybe it’s the same to everyone that doesn’t follow the herd?

  2. dmitry
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Right on, Mike. This guy should not project himself onto the entire generation (or anyone else, for that matter) especially if without a job, he is just a “vaporous form”.

    I am sorry, Mr Portoraro, that you are “defined almost completely by consumerism”. That must suck.

  3. Kelly
    Posted October 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Who wrote this?

    I was having a very difficult thing with this very thing. I don’t know how I ended up here, it is actually quite weird. I was doing homework for a graduate class, and typed a website we have to use… and ended up here. On Generally Speaking?

    It was exactly what I needed to read, as I was very upset not 30 minutes ago over this very thing. People not understanding that I don’t want to walk on the path.