In Defense Of A Boring, Comfortable Life (analysis)

An article on, In Defense Of A Boring, Comfortable Life, is going viral:

There is nothing wrong with living a comfortable and unadventurous life.

I know. This is the internet. The odds are good you just spent five minutes watching someone do something incredible. After watching that video, you probably thought to yourself, “Wow. I should totally go and punch a giant shark in the face.” Or maybe, “Sure. I can take that zip line over a volcano. Why not?” Then you realized, like most people, that you’d rather go hiking instead. But then you find hiking is super boring and nature kind of sucks. Especially if you’re like me, and insects make you the main course every time you enter the woods.

It’s then you begin to realize, as I did when I turned 33, that maybe the adventurous life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It just looks fun, and because we’re regularly exposed to other people’s allegedly fun lives, that makes us imagine doing the same things with our own.

If you want to live in a beautiful, comfortable apartment, and chill out and watch Netflix on the weekends? (And I mean really watch Netflix, which is why I put the “chill” first there), there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s your life. You should do what makes you happy. Honestly, I read a lot of books. If I can spend my weekends working on my comic and reading a good book? I’m as happy as a clam.

This article echoes many themes of this blog and post-2013 society and culture, such as millennials choosing to be alone, at home being introspective or watching Netflix, instead of engaging in ‘adventuresome’ activities such as traveling or going to nightclubs, as part of embracing a ‘spartan’ or ‘boring’ lifestyle of frugality, minimalism, and intellectualism–not excess, materialism, or extravaganza.

Part of this economics: a perpetually weak job market, as well as too much student loan debt, means less money to spend on traveling or going out, but intergenerational cultural factors may also play a role.

Millennials are sorta like 20-something curmudgeons. It’s not the 70-something yelling ‘Get off my lawn!’ – it’s the 20-something saying ‘I want to watch Netflix or read a book at home alone. No, I don’t want to go to a social event such as a club, a baby shower, or your wedding’.

The ‘boomers’ when they were young embraced escapism (such as through psychedelic music, cross-country motorcycle trips, and recreational drug use) and rebellion (against ‘the system’, ‘the establishment’, and ‘the man’).

Gen-x, while there was less rebellion, had escapism in the form of alternative and grunge music, MTV, ‘dumb’ sitcoms (such as Seinfeld, Friends, etc.), as well as drug use. There wasn’t as much intellectualism back then, and consumerism was everywhere. But at the same time, for much of the 80’s and 90’s, living standard for many Americans still weren’t that great, corporate profits & earnings were much weaker than they are now, and interest rates were too high.

By contrast, as mentioned in Intellectualism, Individualism, and Wealth, Part 4 (philosophy of millennials), millennials (with some exception of SJWs) generally don’t seek to rebel or escape, but rather adapt and be in the ‘present’, engaging in studies and online debates on philosophy, finance, and economics, all to better understand ‘the system’ instead of fighting it. Escapism for millennials is generally constructive and intellectual, such as watching documentaries and high-production shows on Netflix, posting or blogging online, or reading (such as in the case of the author of the article, B.J. Mendelson), not binge-watching Friends or zoning-out on music videos. Although millennials created OWS, it quickly fizzled out, and they soon realized that it’s more productive to learn to emulate the rich and to understand how the economy works than rebel against it (which is counterproductive).

There is also less drug and alcohol use than earlier generations (although marijuana may be an exception):

As a result of this saturation of information, the media latches onto millennial drug use. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), millennials actually use fewer drugs and less alcohol than their parents’ peers did. Tempting though it may be to point fingers, teenage drug use declined by more than 34% between 1993 and 2013, a crucial time period that encompasses the teenage years of almost all millennials.

By all accounts, alcohol use is also less common for millennials. According to the same NIDA report, teen drinking has decreased by 42% since 2003 alone, and by more than 60% since 1995. Now that most millennials are in their 20’s or 30’s, this demographic is also leaning away from hard liquor, preferring craft beer and wine. In fact, millennials drink twice as much wine as their parents did at the same age.

This article also relates to ‘advice culture’, borne out of Millennials learning how to adapt, not rebel, to a challenging economy, which seems to reward individualism and lavishes heaps of praise upon an exalted few, with mediocre job prospects and student debt for everyone else. Edgy, contrarian articles (such as In Defense Of A Boring, Comfortable Life) that offer ‘advice’ on navigating post-2013 society and culture often go viral, as millions of people (not just millennials) are coping with ‘how to be average’ if you cannot be the next Zuckerberg, Musk, or Theil (not that everyone wants to be like them, but they are portryed by the media as paragons of success and accomplishment).

And from Wealth, Intellectualism, and Individualism, Part 2 (the obsession with finance):

But at the same time, an article about ‘being average‘ also went viral. This ties into post-2008 ‘authenticity culture’, of how it’s better to be authentically ‘true to yourself’, even if it means being average, than being deluded and afflicted by Dunning Kruger. Biological determinism again rears its head, with genes limiting the potential of people who aspire to more than their biology will allow. This is related to ‘share narratives’, as millions of people are seeking answers to existential questions like, ‘Can someone who is only average find meaning in life in an economy and culture that seems to rewards individual success and talent, and how so?’ Not everyone can be a day trading genius, a web 2.0 billionaire, or a top physicist or mathematician, so learning or coping with being ‘average’ is a useful skill.

Although job prospects may not be as good, the good news is many millennials are rejecting the corporate ‘rat race’, preferring a lifestyle of minimalism over consumerism, as a way of not only adapting to a more difficult economy but as part of a culture that has become more intellectualized. Millennials would rather code and stay home and read, sometimes in the case of the former becoming suddenly very wealthy, but in spite of the wealth still living a minimalist lifestyle.