“There have been many names” can’t have described it better when it comes to obsession found primarily in Western culture on the subject of emerging adulthood. Now that quote is from none other than Da Vinci Code, the movie, a story of a woman who wants to find a killer of her grandfather, which then turns its head around for a conspiracy. Emerging adulthood gains its name from endless pursuit in open-ended, fruitless, and yet always irresponsible actions done by adults, the group of people who, bizarrely enough, can only be categorized by age.
The story runs like this. A seemingly innocent girl visits her father’s workplace, the Apple campus. As a Youtube vlogger, she wants to make a video diary about new discoveries she had inside the campus, new gadgets, softwares, and perhaps the experience of seeing the corporation headquarter herself. She then uploads the video, which is later picked up by tech journalists and interested Apple fans. Apple immediately moves to take her video down, –which she did– and her father lost her job over the Youtube debacle. A girl apologizes in the following video on the same channel.
As such as it is, the story has its untold moments. The girl is not a teenager who was visiting her father’s workplace on “bring your daughter to work day”. In fact, she is married; some of the videos she has uploaded discuss the questions of starting a new family and pregnancy. Her father, who could not have profited from this fiasco, hands out the sensitive material and does nothing to stop the filming. So why did the media went frenzy with “girl gets her Apple engineer father fired” routine?
What we are seeing here, what she is classified under, is called “Emerging Adulthood”. Now I may have limited background in psychology, but I can easily call the conventional wisdom to the stand to tell you such concept is still developing and in dispute as well. What made this generation of people to live under their parents’ roof until late 20s may be considered as a phenomenon of developed countries, but not an universal stage in development of human psyche. The previous generations would have been expecting a second child by late 20s, and so are the some parts of the developing countries. Furthermore, why are we so prone to conform on a new, flimsy cultural phenomenon?
When the Youtuber in question uploaded the second video, the media picked it up and called it an apology of sort. But how can a video considered to be an apology or even an explanation, when truly all it is about her and her father? Even the title of the video insinuates it is another open diary entry, not an explanation for rest to see. This debacle is designed to go in a roundabout: the father was reckless, the daughter is stupid, Apple ruthless. Which one is it, or does this just happen to have many names?
With some comfort, most people found the daughter’s action to be culpable. Again it will not explain why a married woman, to be a mother of a child, would openly disclose her living on Youtube and then move on to disclose people around hers. Like many of us would have, people assumed it was a teenage stunt at first; an immature child making a video that would wreck her dad’s career in innocence. But soon it became a public knowledge that she is an adult, well-past 18. Where does she fit in now, and how do we explain it?
Youtube video going viral on internet is a common thing. A teenager making a video while filming for a Youtube video is another common thing. An engineer fired for violating the terms of his NDA is a sensible thing. But a Youtube video of an adult, making a teenage-like mistakes while filming at the cost of her parent’s job is not so. What are we missing? It’s simple: the plot.
We have many names for it, and probably there have been many. In the end, Da Vinci Code concluded with the arrest of the murderer and conspirator behind the veils. It was nothing more than untrimmed fat for the conspiracy theory Dan Brown wanted to tell. But as a fiction, having a plot was crucial. However, somehow in contemporary journalism it is important to have themes and memes, but not the plot. An engineer from a silicon valley corporation getting fired over trivial video is a framing device. What happened to the families? How did that affect her and her father? What does Apple have to say about the lay off? That’s why we have many names for them; not because there many versions of the same story being told, but because there is no story. That is why this generation of 20s are called “Emerging adulthood”. We are yet to find a story for them.