Being a Grownup™

I was reading a blog post called Why I’ll Never Be an Adult.  I’m guessing the author is somewhere in her late twenties/early thirties.  She speaks of physics classes, so she’s neither stupid nor incapable of thinking structurally.

It’s funny, because we all seem to have this idea that being a Grownup™ means perfect self-discipline, and if you don’t have it, you’re not a Grownup™. This particular blogger will try to be a Grownup™  by doing lots of housework, cooking perfect meals, and scheduling her life to hell and back.  She’ll also find herself failing miserably because she’s set the bar too high.  She’s trying to be more and more “perfect” in managing her life.

It’s not that I don’t get how it happens. I do and mostly because I do that.

It also has zip to do with being a grown-up.

I think we’re looking through out tween to teen goggles when we assess being a Grownup™. We see being a Grownup™ as being frenetically active and working all the time, never ever being slow, or late, or forgetful or…

You know, I’m older than one of my grandmothers was when I was born[1].   When my mother was my age, she had a married child.  I think that gets to count in terms of age.   In terms of where my life is and how I live daily?  My life isn’t really like either of theirs.   I made some radically different choices. Does that make me not a Grownup™?

Part of it might also be that we’re forgetting the help we were to our parents.  Keeping the house neat is easier when you have the husky teenager doing some of the work.   Do they do it as well as you want it done?  Almost certainly not.  I know for a fact I didn’t with my mom.  But the laundry still got folded, she did not clean every bathroom in the house, and Dad certainly wasn’t wrangling all the wood to heat the house by himself[2].   Why?  That’s more work than one person can do![3]

When we try to do it all ourselves, we’re actually setting the bar higher than our parents did for themselves.      If you’re not feeling like a Grownup™ because you can’t get it all done to white glove perfection all by your lonesome, cut yourself some slack.  Grownups™ have historically gotten help.

And if you have a kid, go make ‘em do a chore J

[1] Good lord, I actually have conscious memories of Nanny at my age.  Scary.

[2] In fact, my brother and I have had a bit of a chuckle at the fact that they got a gas furnace after he and I moved out of town.

[3] And while I don’t know this for certain, I’m willing to bet that in my grandmother’s case, her home was neater when she had three girls at home v. when they moved out.

Production and Consumption

Steel Beach was one of my favorite novels for awhile.  The basic plot revolved around an entertainment reporter who specialized in scandal and juicy stories.  People read them on “pads” that were more or less tablet computing as we know it.  One subscribed to a dedicated service — both the service and the device were referred to as pads.

It’s kinda cool that he noodled about how electronic publishing might pan out.  But I find it interesting that he still postulated it as a one-way street.  The professionals hired to do it produced, the public consumed.

Back in the dark ages of the 1990s, few people only consumed material online.  Most people did a fair amount of producing as well, be it a My Pet Goldfish webpage (and a single page it was!), or participating in discussion groups.  Even with the explosion of online media and millions more people participating social media does encourage discussion, at least.  While the percentage of people producing actual content is getting lower, it’s still pretty impressive.

However, with tablet computing being pushed, I do wonder if we’re going to fall back to a mostly-consumption mentality.  I hope not.  Some writers and thinkers seem to think that the archetecture of participation will endure, but I have to wonder how much so, especially with devices that make production more and more difficult.

I’m curious what other people think.

Defined by who you're not

I was reading the Israel Derangement Syndrome II article and got to thinking.  I don’t often speak up publicly about my feelings about US-Israeli relations, mostly because I feel like the minute I open my mouth, I’m gonna get slapped with an anti-Semitic label before I get to outline how I feel.  I encourage you to read the article before you go on with reading what I have to say, as he does comment rather succinctly on some things.

But, I actually want to pull another thread — how we identify ourselves and with what subset of humanity.

I do it.  I’ll identify as a Virginian pretty quickly, even if in the 21st century, one would think that identifying by nationality would be the important thing.  There’s even some historical precedent.  If Bob Lee hadn’t identified as a Virginian first and an American second, there’s no way in hell the Civil War would have lasted as long as it did.

And that’s kind of the point.  I think we sub-identify too much.  Sure, sure, having your tribe feels good.  I enjoy going to parties full of geeks with similar tastes and viewpoints to my own.  It’s nice not to feel like an alien.  I like going to family gatherings for a similar reason.  The shared experiences, the shared viewpoint and history is a powerfully bonding experience and it satisfies our monkey brains on a deep level.

What I wonder is if it is possible, without some sort of outside reference, to have that sense of identity with being a human being and denizen of the Planet Earth.  I don’t know, really.  Science fiction is loaded with examples of authors postulating that a shared alien enemy will be the driving force to unite human beings.

Me?  I don’t know that I like the idea of being defined in terms of what one is against or what one is not.  The problem is that I wonder if this oppositional behavior and viewpoint is necessary for in-group bonding, and without it, we’re lost in a floating sea of aloneness.

I’d like to think not, but I have to wonder.