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BEYOND MILLENNIAL

Last weekend I saw “Beyond Therapy,” a revival of a very funny early (1982) play by Tony Award winning playwright Christopher Durang. It’s about single, thirty-something big city dwellers struggling to make sense of their lives, their sexual orientations, trying to project their ideal selves, looking for love through newspaper dating ads (before match.com, etc.) and seeking help from therapists crazier than they are.

The playbill cites a December 1981 New York Magazine “Single in the City” issue that described the conditions causing the then young professionals’ angst: “the quest for fame and fortune, the sheer number of singles, the pressure to perform…the delaying of marriage for career.” References to the inability of young people to settle down and giving priority to work over marriage (or love), and statistics about educated professional single women outnumbering similar men sound eerily familiar to the Gen Y/Millennial world of today. We can even draw correlations to a down economy in the early 1980s– the second worst to recent times since the Great Depression.

Despite dramatic changes in technology, the status of women at work and demographics of the workforce in the last 30 years, it seems like déjà vu. Note that the characters in the play and described in the 1981 New York Magazine are Gen Xers and the younger Boomers.

This reinforces one reason Gen Xers (and some Boomers) are not generally sympathetic to Gen Yers. Having lived through similar experiences without having hovering parents, coaches and mentors, perhaps their attitude toward the younger generation is understandable: “We survived relying on ourselves.” “Why can’t they figure it out?” Why do they expect so much help?” Often they perceive the Gen Y/Millennials to be unfocused and uncommitted.

It’s worth contemplating…

Your thoughts? Please comment.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

A GENERATION LATER

I am an avid and frequent theatergoer and supporter, and I have tickets for this coming weekend to see "Vanities, A New Musical," part of my subscription to Second Stage in New York. It is a musical version of a long-running play off-Broadway. The publicity says it "spans the turbulent '60s through the late '80s and explores how important friends are as one faces life's defining moments." It follows three women over a 30 year period.

In an interview, the book writer (and playwright of the original play, Jack Heifner) and the songwriter, both men (the director is a woman) were asked if the problems the women faced would resonate with our world. David Kirshenbaum, who wrote the music and lyrics, said," We're living once again in a time of incremental but incredible revolution - politically, technically, economically, culturally - and even though the battles being waged are different, one hopes from those that were fought in the ''60s and '70s, on a certain level I think social changes are ultimately going to be just as seismic."

Do you agree? With change accelerating geometrically, especially from a technological standpoint, will the changes be even greater?

I am eager to see if I think that had the characters been texting and tweeting instead of communicating in person those bonds of friendship would be as strong. 

In any case, studies continue to be released confirming that people with a solid base of social relationships are the happiest and most able to withstand hardships. Or is it that the happiest people attract the most valuable friendships?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

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