Witness a microcosm of tragedy through the loss of traditions as atomized individualism takes over from culture:
“Young couples starting out don’t want the same things people used to have,” says Susan Devaney, president of NASMM and owner of The Mavins Group, a senior move manager in Westfield, N.J. “They’re not picking out formal china patterns anymore. I have three sons. They don’t want anything of mine. I totally get it.”
Buysse agrees. “This is an Ikea and Target generation. They live minimally, much more so than the boomers. They don’t have the emotional connection to things that earlier generations did,” she notes. “And they’re more mobile. So they don’t want a lot of heavy stuff dragging down a move across country for a new opportunity.”
And you can pretty much forget about interesting your grown kids in the books that lined their grandparents’ shelves for decades. If you’re lucky, you might find buyers for some books by throwing a garage sale or you could offer to donate them to your public library — if the books are in good condition.
In other words, we now live in a society where the individual is obligated to nothing greater than the individual, which we might see as the ultimate democratic ideal. People live only for themselves, and this has produced a dying age where nothing remains, and all is disposable like Ikea furniture and fast food.
Generation X saw this one coming. We realized that the old traditions represented obligations that the contemporary job market and social situation did not support. As such, we could crucify ourselves trying to keep up the habits of the past, or acknowledge that this society has failed and move on to a minimal, transient life where we obligate ourselves as little as possible to the decline.
The sadness hides in the margins here. Nothing you do will last. Nothing you do will have meaning, either, because you are dedicated only to yourself, and work, of course. You work like a good worker in the worker’s paradise. Everyone is equal, which means no one has anything more than themselves and a dollar amount on the paycheck.
Meaning dies when we become so focused on ourselves that we reduce our thinking to materialism in order to avoid exploring those areas where we are not strictly equal. The nation fades away, replaced by an endless row of apartment buildings and strip malls. Now we are truly equal, entropy has won, and in the absence of meaning we sit and wait for death.