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A Letter from Tucker Max to the Lost Generation

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If you haven't been following the plot, Tucker Max has moved on from writing about drunken antics to offering general life advice. [See one of the earliest entries on his new blog, explaining why you shouldn't go to law school.]

His latest blog post is based on a speech he gave at Pittsburgh University, title What You Need to Know About Life, But Haven't Been Taught. If you're one of the multitude of over-educated/under-employed youth and have to deal with Boomer parents who think the world is still more or less enjoying post-WWII prosperity, then it's a good read.

Whenever you hear about the failures of young people, all those breathless New Yorker articles about 27 year olds with masters degrees living at home, the implication is that it’s the kids fault. It could never be the parents, no of course not, they cared so much. Thats what you’re always told, that its your fault, right?

It’s not. Your parents and your educational institutions have completely and utterly failed you. They really have only one job, and that is to educate you. For what? Fun? No, for life. They need to teach you the things that matter in an honest, truthful way. But they haven’t. They have failed you, and THAT is why you are so fucking unready for whats coming.

This might sound like typical boomerhate, and in some ways it is, but Tucker does what many people (especially Boomers) have failed to do, and that is separate the issue of blame from the question of what the youth ought to do:

Don’t start crying Matt Damon. This isn’t that sort of speech. I’m not here to bitch at them, because even though they failed us, we still have to clean up the mess. Ultimately, its up to us to solve our problems, even if we didn’t make them.

The typical Boomerlogic is: If you blame someone else then you won't feel it's your job to improve your situation, and you ought to improve your situation, so you ought not to blame someone else, especially if that someone is me and my generation.

Of course, the Boomerlogic is wrong. If someone shoots you in the leg, it'd be stupid at the trial for the defense attorney to say "You know, instead of testifying here today and trying to play the blame game, you really ought to be working on your physical therapy. Seeing my client in jail won't help you recover."

The rest of Tucker's post boils down to three life lessons:

1. Get drunk and have some fun while you're young. Not just for the sake of having fun, but because taking risks teaches you about the limits of yourself and the world around you, and you learn how to cope with failure.

2. Question everything and assume that most of the life rules and prefabricated narratives you're supposed to follow probably exist to benefit someone else and not yourself.

3. Spend more time pursuing a passion than idly hoping to find one. Even if you waste time on the wrong thing, at least you'll have developed the skillset needed to help you pursue the right thing later. You don't want to figure out what you want to do with your life only to realize you haven't figured out how to overcome procrastination.


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