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You know it wouldn’t be Halloween without some spookiness. On this glorious day of witches, monsters, ghouls, and skeletons, a writer from the NY Post is now scolding us millennials for zombifying Halloween. It seems that by not leaving Halloween dead and buried in our childhoods, but instead resurrecting it for another night of fun and debauchery in our 20s, our generation has demonstrated an unwillingness to group up and be adults. That’s right folks: by actually reviving something, millennials are now to blame for killing everything else (an R.L. Stein-esque twist on a classic topic, to be sure).
According to the article, the number of adults dressing up for Halloween this year is at an all-time high, with spending on Halloween apparel reaching over $9 billion this year. In the 80s, the writer points out in a not-so-subtle “back in my day,” adults hardly ever wore costumes, dressed up their pets, or engaged in tomfoolery on Halloween night. Now, those actions are common-place among us 20 and 30 somethings. What’s the problem? According to this esteemed and definitely not out-of-touch journalist, this continued celebration of the best holiday of the year (don’t @ me, it’s true) indicates that millennials are unwilling to grow up.
Halloween is blowing up because childhood is leaking further and further into adult life, and millennials, in particular, aren’t fully sold on the idea that they’re grown-ups. Candy? Costumes? Silly pranks? These things should gradually start losing interest for you about the time you learn what a 401(k) is. Instead, childish behavior is losing all connotations of being embarrassing.
Uh, dude, it’s not like we’re running around wearing princess dresses every day and TPing houses. And while some idiots out there might not like candy, most of us normal folks recognize that it’s a goddamn delicious snack and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a Kit-Kat every now and then.
Also, we’ll abandon our childish behavior when we get to exist an economy where any of us can open a 401(k). Or better yet, one where we’re not paying into about-to-be bankrupt entitlements like Medicare. Otherwise, forgive all my friends and I for wanting to have a little fun and forget for two seconds how badly past generations fucked us. But wait, it’s not just Halloween that shows our generation is a bunch of big kids. See Exhibit B!
Video games — sales of which hit an all-time high of $30.6 billion last year — as well as the increasing popularity of cosplay (dressing up in costumes the other 364 days of the year), comic-book conventions, superhero movies and fantasy sports are all symptoms of what Andersen dubs “Kids ‘R’ Us Syndrome”: We’re losing our collective sense of when it’s time to put away childish things.
Ah yes, the evil scourges of video games, movies, and comic books keep us as kids at heart and hold us back from becoming “real adults.” Sorry that we don’t all want to join the Elk Lodge or Rotary Club and start playing Canasta the moment we graduate college. I’m sure back in your day adults never spent their leisure time playing recreational sports like some continuation of days spent imagining themselves as pro athlete while playing on the playgrounds of their youth. But, you know, that’s completely different because you were outside. Because being outside makes anything you’re doing seem to not be a waste of time, somehow.
But to this writer’s point, how awful is it for us millennials to have interests and hobbies outside of work, which can often be remnants of youthful pastimes? If you don’t like comics, video games, cosplay, or fantasy sports, that’s fine. No one is forcing you to. But don’t make our generation, the one that is most accepting and open to change, feel bad that we’re willing to let our peers enjoy diverse passions. Maybe look at the bright side, that so many have found creative outlets for their time and provided so much entertainment to others. You know, given that arts and entertainment is one of the industries likely to be least affected by job automation in the future.
But of course, this article’s big gripe is that this immaturity is preventing us from hitting the “traditional” hallmarks of adulthood.
According to a US Census Bureau report, among those in the 25-34 age range as of 2016, fewer than one-quarter had completed the big four adult benchmarks: living apart from parents and having a job, a spouse and one or more kids.
Being financially attached to one’s folks, or living in Mom’s basement, bolsters a 30-year-old’s illusion that he’s still a kid. As of 2015, only 41 percent of adults aged 25 to 34 were living apart from their parents and without financial assistance from them. That’s down substantially from 51 percent in 2005 and way down from previous generations.
The suggestion is that if more adults were willing to settle down, move into our own homes, get married before the age of 30, and have kids, we might abandon these childish pastimes. After all, “[n]othing puts the gray hairs in the scalp as rapidly as trying to foil your toddlers’ incessant attempts to hurt themselves, and nothing makes grown-up pursuits so inviting as spending the day crawling around on the rug playing My Little Pony.”
Ignoring the fact that our generation doesn’t tend to move out and buy houses because we entered adulthood in the worst *clap emoji* economy *clap emoji* in the last *clap emoji* 50 *clap emoji* years *clap emoji,* why is spending all day taking care of a kid the idyllic life goal? I’m not knocking those with kids, I’ve heard that they can be great, but so many people just assume that reproduction is the end goal for all of us.
Please accept that a lot of us aren’t fully sold on the idea of sacrificing our freedom and independence to raise a kid we may end up resenting. That’s not immature; on the contrary, it’s very responsible to not bring a child into the world without a strong support system. Also, if I start playing Legos or video games with my child, does that somehow make the act more mature than if I did it on my own? I’m willing to bet a lot of people with kids use it as an opportunity to get a heavy dose of nostalgia by giving their tykes their old Hot Wheels.
What this guy is really trying to get at, though, is a notion that seems repeated often in “Millennials are Killing X” articles: we’re doing things differently and the older generation doesn’t like it. His major criticism, that millennials are refusing to grow up, isn’t actually a criticism. Why is growing up a good thing? Or, more accurately, who gets to define what it means to be a grown-up? I’m in my late 20s with two degrees, a steady 9-5 job, my own place, and savings in the bank. I also love superhero movies, playing video games for hours on end, spending Sundays brunching through the afternoon NFL games, Halloween costume parties, and a bunch of other things you could describe as “childish.” And I’m not alone. There are plenty of people who somehow manage to be responsible adults while also eating candy or going to Comicon.
So let me say this plainly and simply: our generation continuing to enjoy Halloween, and appropriating it for our generation by trading out candy (mostly) for alcohol is not some Peter Pan never grow up fantasy. It’s a desire to make adulthood suck less. We want to recapture the magic of childhood, a time where we weren’t aware of ISIS, global warming, or the possibility that the US’s credit rating could be downgraded. Back then, we just had fun with friends, caring nothing more than how much candy we’d get while trick or treating. Now we’ve swapped candy for house parties and hooking up with a girl wearing skin-tight clothing dressed up as a mouse. We’ve grown up; we’re just making being an adult way better..
[via the NY Post]