The Spider and the Ant

Tue May 13, 2003

The Echo Booms are confounding predictions. My own feeling is that they will be pretty libertarian, with strong family values and a fierce sense of personal and civic responsibility. In this way they’ll combine the hopeful liberalism of their parents – which stressed personal freedom – with our Gen X pessimism about feeling deeply uprooted.

This means they’ll try to settle down much earlier, but will also make a big deal over this being a
conscious choice. They are less afraid of closing their options than we were at their age, maybe because they intuit their privilege, maybe because they know that there are no geographic pockets of money anymore.

(There may be Silicone Valleys in the future, but right now the economy sucks all over, so why alienate yourself by wandering around looking for a better break?)

These kids are not afraid to work, but work doesn’t motivate them, either. On the other hand, they are not like us. They won’t default to choosing the individual over his or her job… I think they have strong ideals, based on being invested in the economy and local communities, so they’ll eat shit if they have to, but their loyalties aren’t to the company anymore than ours were / are.

However, where we looked at our resumes or made choices based on how satisfied we felt, the echo booms are much more likely to compromise short-term goals for longer-term ones. And I'm not really talking about stock portfolios here, but some deep sense of investment that's hard for us to imagine.

They will be poor managers, but great team workers. They will make fine parents because they will be more likely to sacrifice their happiness for the happiness of their families, but they will also lack the depth to teach their kids about the complexities of moral choices. Not quite as pragmatic as most of us have been, they will succeed based on their powerful cooperative strategies, not their networking or negotiation skills.

The age of the spider is ending. The age of the ant is reaching its dawn.


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