Friday, May 16, 2008

The Europeanization of the US

Much has been said about Gen Y's reluctance to sacrifice their personal lives to achieve career success. But with a declining competitive position in the Global economy and traditional, competitive corporate career paths being stripped of their formerly luxurious vermeer faster than an aging former Melrose Place actress, it feels as if a broader range of young US professionals (including Gen X) are "done" with the notion of making work and professional competition their priority (and strongest source of self-identity). Can anyone that worked 50+ hours a week at Goldman or a myriad of other investment banks possibly feel vindicated when the real estate crash has thrown their firm into bankruptcy - and negated the bonus they were counting on? Many young (or young at heart) professionals are growing jaded and instead setting their sites on a more traditionally European focus on quality of life - and looking into leaving their office gigs for more creative, lower paying, and less traditionally structured jobs. Some are even strongly considering moving to Europe altogether (which, ironically, seems to be Americanizing).

Is the US priming itself to enter into its own psuedo-Renaissance period - with a large wave of young professionals leaving their classic office jobs and instead taking up with a more creatively-focused (and lower paying) profession, pursuing their passions and taking more time to enjoy their personal lives? Are we looking at a busier Starbucks or local coffee shop on random afternoons - simply because it's nice out? More people working from home - or at least leaving the office at 5PM so they can make it in time to their Photography or Playwriting class? More cigarrettes being smoked to fuel our writing (and reading) more books, plays and scripts, taking (and selling) more photographs and attending more museums?

I certainly hope so. It's quarter to 2 on a Friday afternoon - I gotta run so I can wrap up and head out by 4PM to meet friends. And drink coffee. And wine. And take photographs outdoors. On a gorgeous Friday afternoon.