What do you do with a whole generation of slackers who thinks they deserve rewards just for existing?
Someday, there will be a snappy acronym for the period we’re living though, but right now — three years after the crash of 2008 — American life is a blurry, scratched-out page that’s hard to read. Some Americans have recovered, or at least stabilized, from the Great Recession. Corporate profits are at record levels, and it’s not just oil companies who are flush.
For many computer programmers, corporate executives who oversee social media, and some others who fit the definition of the “creative class” — a term that dates back to the mid-’90s but was given currency early last decade by urbanist/historian Richard Florida — things are good. The creativity of video games is subsidized by government research grants; high tech is booming. This creative class was supposed to be the new engine of the United States economy, post-industrial age, and as the educated, laptop-wielding cohort grew, the U.S. was going to grow with it.
But for those who deal with ideas, culture and creativity at street level — the working- or middle-classes within the creative class — things are less cheery. Book editors, journalists, video store clerks, musicians, novelists without tenure — they’re among the many groups struggling through the dreary combination of economic slump and Internet reset. The creative class is melting, and the story is largely untold.
It’s happening at all levels, small and large. Record shops and independent bookstores close at a steady clip; newspapers and magazines announce new waves of layoffs. Tower Records crashed in 2006, costing 3,000 jobs. This summer’s bankruptcy of Borders Books — almost 700 stores closed, putting roughly 11,000 people out of work — is the most tangible and recent example. One of the last video rental shops in Los Angeles — Rocket Video — just announced that it will close at the end of the month.
Some of these employees are young people killing time behind a counter; it’s hard for them, but they will live to fight again. But education, talent and experience — criteria that help define Florida’s creative class, making these supposedly valued workers the equivalent of testosterone injections for cities — does not guarantee that a “knowledge worker” can make a real living these days.
Is it a recession, a transition, a reset, or all of the above? “I think we’re nowhere,” says Donnelly. “We’re in a no man’s land.”
Well boo-fucking-hoo you WATBs.
Seriously, who do these morons think they are? Did they really think they were just going to crank out the next great American novel in their spare time and then live la dolce vita evermore?
My generation looked forward to 40-50 years of hard work after graduating from school. A lucky few would get rich, far more would die in middle age from strokes and heart attacks.
These are the leaders of tomorrow? We are so fucked.