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Friday, January 09, 2009

Lessons Learned in a Bad Economy

The USA Today is currently running an interesting article on their website: A generation adjusts as teens confront a harsh economy. Early on, the article makes this point:

Perhaps never before has a generation that has wanted for so little—these offspring of acquisitive Baby Boomer parents have amassed cellphones, iPods, laptops and a perceived sense of entitlement—been forced to give up so much.

The journalist who wrote the article went to a high school in California to get the reaction of teens to their family’s cutbacks. As you might imagine, many are disappointed that they can’t do as much or purchase as much as they are accustomed to, but they are also learning something.

One teen girl has started going to thrift stores instead of the mall. One teen boy invites friends over to play board games instead of going to the movies. Another girl calls this a wake-up call about how much she and her friends have. And a 17-year-old boy said this, “Things are a lot cozier now. The standard for what makes a great weekend is a lot lower. Video games with a friend are it for me. But it’s OK.”

I wonder if by saying things are cozier, the boy is learning the benefit of engaging with people rather than things. Coziness doesn’t come from playing Xboxes or listening to iPods in solitude. It comes from sitting on a couch with a cup of hot chocolate with a friend or loved one and getting caught up in each other’s lives; from playing a game with people as laughter fills the room; from looking across the table or across the room and seeing a smile.

If he’s learning all of that right now, then having less money in his pocket might just turn out to be one of the best things that ever happens to him.


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