some time ago, i read an article from new york magazine about “grups”, shorthand for a newly quantified demographic of adults who are erasing the generation gap. i found the article in a link from thinkchristian.com. the thinkchristian post also had a link to an al mohler blog post about the same article. all three are worth reading (especially the article). however, i strongly think they (particularly the new york mag piece and even moreso al mohler’s post) have completely missed the point.
first a bit of a summary. a few quotes from the article:
He owns eleven pairs of sneakers, hasn’t worn anything but jeans in a year, and won’t shut up about the latest Death Cab for Cutie CD. But he is no kid. He is among the ascendant breed of grown-up who has redefined adulthood as we once knew it and killed off the generation gap.
This is an obituary for the generation gap. It is a story about 40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old. It’s not about a fad but about a phenomenon that looks to be permanent. It’s about the hedge-fund guy in Park Slope with the chunky square glasses, brown rock T-shirt, slight paunch, expensive jeans, Puma sneakers, and shoulder-slung messenger bag, with two kids squirming over his lap like itchy chimps at the Tea Lounge on Sunday morning. It’s about the mom in the low-slung Sevens and ankle boots and vaguely Berlin-art-scene blouse with the $800 stroller and the TV-screen-size Olsen-twins sunglasses perched on her head walking through Bryant Park listening to Death Cab for Cutie on her Nano.
For a Grup, professional success is measured not by how many employees you have but by how much freedom you have to walk, or boogie-board, away.
There’s that tricky word again: passion. What’s with the Grups and passion? It’s all anyone wants to talk about. Passionate parents, passionate workers, passionate listeners to the new album by Wolf Parade.
here’s my gripe: i think the article wrongly focuses almost completely on clothing and music choices. then good ol’ al mohler takes this a step further, and implies that it’s an issue of immaturity, that growing up would entail knowing when to wear a good suit (my words, but not far from his).
COMPETELY MISSING THE POINT ALERT!
let’s look at the positive intent here (something i’ve found to be extremely helpful in understanding any conflict or change). maybe the grups (do i qualify? i don’t wear $200 dollar jeans, but i do wear shorts or jeans everyday, and rarely anything but a t-shirt. and at 43, i’d rather listen to death cab for cutie or system of a down than led zepplin or the journey or anything that actually came out of my generation.) are rejecting the crap values of a previous generation. and, to take it a step further, maybe they’re rejecting the values of their own teenage years.
in other words…
how is not a GOOD thing that a 36 year-old is more interested in quality of life than in corporate climing? how is it not a GOOD thing that a 33 year-old would rather work a job that provides meaning and significance from contribution (even if it means less pay or ‘status’ in the way that used to be quantified), rather than working a job that provides high pay or prestige or power over others, but robs the soul. and to the fixation with clothing and music found in the article and mohler’s post… well, i’m just baffled. how is a suit and tie somehow, instrinsicly, better? if ‘appropriate clothing’ is a societally-prescribed norm, it’s a “it is what it is” at most, and annoying group think at worst.
well. i could rant about this for a while, but i sense i’m rambling. let me just say that i want clothes that are comfortable and allow me to focus on my priorities in life, which do NOT include propping up a previous generation’s norms. and let me just say that i want to listen to music that moves my soul, not music that makes me think of the past — and since my spirit and soul continue to grow and change (thanks, god, transformation’s a pretty cool invention of yours!), music that moves my soul will likely continue to grow and change also.
HERE’S THE THING: the observation that the generation gap, as experienced in every previous generation, is disappearing… now THAT’S something worth talking about and studying and thinking about. what are the implications? what are the risks? what are the new opportunities this provides us — especially in the church? wow — just think of it! is it possible to conceive of a time when worship style wars won’t be drawn along generational lines? how cool would THAT be?