Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crises, Real and Imagined

Quarterlife crisis.
This phenomenon, known as the “Quarterlife Crisis,” is as ubiquitous as it is intangible. Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.

I can recognize some of that in my life and in the lives of others I know. I went to grad school, I guess. Does this have any validity? Some, I suppose, but I'm not sure it's an entirely new phenomenon even if it manifests itself in different ways.

Then there are people with real problems that don't involve whining about "life decisions." How ridiculous is it that after Haiti's 1804 slave revolt led to their independence from France they had to pay $150 million francs in reparations, a debt they didn't retire until 1947? "Yeah, see, here's the deal. We're no longer getting all of this money by enslaving your people and pillaging your land so you're really going to have to start paying us back for that. kthx." According to this Times of London article at the turn of the 20th century 80% of their budget was going to paying down the debt and they were the only slaves in the world that had to do so. It also details the exploitation, this time at the hands of American corporations among others, that continued until the 1970's and lays out a lot of the corruption and other issues that led to the crushing poverty that existed even pre-earthquake. Kind of puts Quarterlife "crisis" in perspective...

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