Readers of The New York Times Magazine were undoubtedly disappointed when the June 20th article titled, “It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave,” neglected to cite which duly constituted body in fact solemnly declared that the “boomerang kids” won’t leave. It also doesn’t tell us who the “boomerang kids” are (garage rock band?) or what they won’t be leaving. Reminiscent of last May when the much lesser-known PolicyMic proclaimed, “It’s official: The law school bubble has popped,” based merely on a paper by Moody’s, I think this idiotic trope deserves exploitation.
By the power vested in me by WordPress.com and abrogated editorial standards, I hereby decree that it’s official: I am your Sovereign. You may kiss my hand and remit your tax payments to…
You can read the rest of the Times Magazine article if you dare. To summarize: After a 197-word anecdote about what I guess is a “boomerang kid,” it tells us without reference to any sources that “One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents,” even though the Census Bureau says that 31 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds are children of householders. (For the 25-34 bracket, it hit 14 percent in 2013. The trend began ticking upward in 2006, and it’s mainly driven by women.)
The article then goes about treating the increase in young people living with their parents as equal parts bad luck and policy Rubik’s cube. (At least it didn’t say that “tough choices had to be made”.) It impliedly dismisses the notion that simple solutions could change things for the better, like abandoning the labor policy of mass unemployment. No comparisons to Japan are made. There’s a paragraph-long digression on the advent of childhood in the 19th century. Then the article substitutes careful analysis with grand philosophizing, e.g., “[W]e are living not simply in an unequal society but rather in two separate, side-by-side economies.”
Whoa. Think about that the next time you pay your rent.
Then the article torturously spends its final four of its fifteen paragraphs on yet another anecdotal individual who is “emblematic of a generation.” Really, I could’ve been much harder on this piece. Although, to its credit it doesn’t conclude with rabid college-for-all frothing.
The only question I’m left with is, “Has reporting on young adults ever not been infantilizing and uninformative?” Perhaps I’m setting the bar a bit high for an article that slaps “official” onto its title to trick its readers into thinking that it’s so. Maybe editors will stop pulling that the day you all send me, your official Sovereign, your tax bills.