Last week The New York Times had a feature on the slow pace at which young people are developing in to full-fledged adults. The article observed that while many members of previous generations would have had careers, spouses and children by their mid-20s, most twenty-somethings alive today have managed to acquire few, if any, of these trappings of adulthood. Instead they're spending their time living with their parents, wearing body stockings, growing ridiculous facial hair and sleeping with a parade of sweaty, hair-netted strangers. Today's young person seems to have some pretty different ideas about how to spend their 20s than their parents did.
Because the article was something like 10 pages long, no one in their 20s actually read it. So, in an effort to get the real talk on how twenty-somethings are progressing towards adulthood, I went around town trying to interview them. However it turns out that my research outfit (a stethoscope and tiny shorts with "SCIENCE" written across the ass) prevented me from gaining admittance to any but the least discriminating clubs, where instead of young people offering useful data, I met naught by old men who offered me naught but cocktails. My research seemingly failed, I retired several days later to the office to re-evaluate my approach. Realizing that Cracked's audience was massively stacked with 20- to 30-year-olds, I dug through our database of registered users, and using the detailed private knowledge that we've had access to ever since we installed those Facebook links, I filtered the list to find the least advanced twenty-something I could find, and came up with a 26-year-old man who goes by the username RandyRooney. Wanting to know why Randy was failing to make his way past five key milestones on the road to becoming an adult, I approached him via IM for a brief interview.
Milestone 1: Completing School
Obviously schooling can take up a big chunk of a person's 20s, and in many cases, justifiably so--there's probably a good reason we don't crank out doctors after four months of classroom time and a couple field trips.
"There is some chance we left a Fruit Roll-Up inside of you."
But in many cases, young adults aren't using school as a launching pad for their lives, they're using it as a stalling mechanism to delay having to deal with the real world - having convinced themselves that they actually give two butts about Russian Literature.
What a Real Twenty-Something Has To Say:
Cracked: What is your problem?
RandyRooney: Pardon me? I thought you wanted to do an interview?
Cracked: I'm sorry, I should have been clearer. To clarify, have you completed school yet, and if not, why not?
RandyRooney: No. I guess not. I just started my masters in linguistics.
Cracked: Wow. The scientific study of natural languages.
RandyRooney: You copied that right from Wikipedia, didn't you?
Cracked: No. It just always takes me 20 to 30 seconds to remember words. So do you actually like linguisting or what?
RandyRooney: Sure. It's pretty interesting. I've been mainly studying semiotics in Mesoamerican cultures.
Cracked: I've heard there's lots of money in that. The margins are apparently just insane.
RandyRooney: Ha ha. You sound like my dad.
Cracked: YOUNG MAN I AM YOUR COMEDY WEBSITE AND I KNOW HOW THE WORLD WORKS. THERE ARE HORRIBLE MEN IN THIS WORLD AND POLITICIANS WILL DEFILE YOU AND WOMEN WILL CAST STONES AT YOU IF YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO WORK WITH MACHINE TOOLS.
RandyRooney: I take it that you're done with school then?
Cracked: That's right. By the time I was 25 I had attended three different "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" seminars, and read most of the first half of his book, concluding my formal education. It was around then that the banks and I decided that a future in obtaining small-business loans wasn't for me. That's when I fell back on comedy writing, my safety career.
Milestone 2: Moving Out Of Parents' Home
This is probably the only item on the list on which there is a common understanding amongst all observers, young and old. Living with your parents is a pretty clear sign that You're Doing Something Wrong.
What a Real Twenty-Something Has To Say:
Cracked: Seriously though, what is your problem?
RandyRooney: Seriously? Fuck you.
Cracked: OK, I guess that was partially my bad again. What you should have done is read between the lines, where you would have seen the question: "Do you still live with your folks?"
RandyRooney: Yes. I do.
RandyRooney: Oh, OK. Well when I went back to grad school, I thought I'd be able to stay on part time at the bookstore. But they wouldn't give me the shifts I wanted, so I had to quit. It's been hard finding other work. It's pretty rough out there. So I moved back home.
Cracked: I see. And does this make you feel like less of a person? Like some kind of subperson? Like some kind of half-man/half-baby pit-beast who terrifies the villagers, and is always kept indoors?
Cracked: I see. You should consider it.
RandyRooney: And I assume you've moved out of your folks' place?
Cracked: Of course. Mom and I came to an agreement when I was 28 that I needed my own space and that she needed to move to a different, hidden town. I've been living under my desk at work since then.
RandyRooney: It strikes me that your position is not measurably better than my own.
Cracked: You know what strikes me? Janitors and their vacuum cleaners. Am I right? Ha ha ha!