Coming so close on the heels of the introduction of the iPad, I barely caught my breath before the introduction of the new iPhone. I can’t say which version it is, since I don’t have one, never used one and couldn’t distinguish one version from the next if my life depended on it.  But that’s just me.  It appears that other people think it’s a marvel, even if Steve Jobs couldn’t get it to work.

I don’t have every new shiny toy for a very simple reason.  I don’t want to pay for every new shiny toy.  I don’t want to pay the ancillary costs for the service needed for every new shiny toy.  I work too hard to piss away money on every new shiny toy.  Yet it seems like every young person around has one.  Or two.  I see them, on the train, walking about the city, with a shiny thing in one hand and another shiny thing, but with a bigger screen, in the other.  There are often wires coming out of their ears as well.

I’ve seen newborn babies.  They do not come out with wires in their ears.  I surmise that the wires connect to something shiny, even if it’s hidden in a pocket.

How do all these kids manage to have all these shiny toys?  It could be that they are all far wealthier than I, and hence the massive constant expenditures to be on the cutting edge of technology doesn’t affect them.  And yet I keep reading about layoffs, deferments, huge unpaid student loans, no jobs to be had.  In my day, there was a causal connection between jobs and the accumulation of wealth.  Did I miss something?

I fear I did.  I fear that one of two things are happening, and right under my nose.  And I missed it.  Since I know that Apple gives nothing away, and that they must pay for all the shiny toys, these people must have plenty of expendable income.  Either they earned it or somebody put it in their hand and told them to have lots of fun.  If the former, it may signify that they are earning great sums of money, or that they are spending every penny they make.  These toys aren’t cheap, and I know for a fact that a house, food, children, vacations, clothing and cable television aren’t cheap.

If they are spending every penny they make, what will they do on a rainy day?  I can’t believe that holding an iPad over their head can be very good to keep the rain off their head.  Or their iPad.  And what about the other stuff one needs to survive?  Can they afford that too?

But worse than spending every penny of disposable (and not disposable) income is the idea that someone is putting money in their wallet when they aren’t looking, perhaps as they are sitting on the couch playing GameTube and eating Cheetos.  If that’s the case, I bet I know who it is.

I’ve often rapped the Slackoisie for their entitlement and narcissism.  But watching the two-fisted technophiles strutting their stuff, I realize that it’s their parents, my tribe, who have and continue to enable this.  Will they ever believe that a day will come when they have to turn in their iPad for baby food or a new interview suit?  If they never learn, how can they continue to cruise through life with all the toys they haven’t earned?  How can we expect them to learn to grow up, to appreciate the value of a dollar and a hard day’s work, when money continues to appear in their wallet as if by magic, and converts itself into the iPhone 97.0 (platinum card version)?

There’s no reason for the young to stop when we won’t stop enabling their most unproductive tendencies.  It’s bad enough that we’ve blown their priorities, but now we exacerbate the problem with disincentives to take responsibility for themselves?  We tell them it’s a rough world out there, but then put little pillows under their feet so their every step can be cushy and soft.  How do they learn to walk by themselves?

Yes, despite our mistakes and misguided love by shiny toy proxy, they will ultimately have to grow up and take responsibility for the world.  But the persistence in enabling them isn’t helping.  And it’s most assuredly hurting.  Don’t put another twenty in their wallet.  Don’t make their bed or wipe their cute little tushy.  Let them chew their food themselves. Heck, make them chew their food for themselves.

And for crying out loud, don’t give them the money to buy anything that begins with a lowercase “i”.  If they want an i-whatever, let them wait until they can buy it for themselves.  And only after they’ve bought enough food to feed the baby.

15 thoughts on “iEnable

  1. Tim Eavenson

    I won’t say anything about parents, since not enabling my 2-year-old is still considered neglect, I think.

    As a member of the gray area between generations x and y, though, I can add a second source of surprise pocket cash for those coming up behind me: higher education. The ease with which college- (or law school) age kids can get $10k in loans on top of their tuition is scary in that “real-estate bubble” kind of way.

    I visited a friend’s brother at his college last year, and couldn’t believe what I saw – flat screen tvs, bose speakers, multiple-screen computers, iphones. It was like a poorly-decorated investment brokerage.

    The kids called it all “educational living expenses.” Yikes.

  2. Dissent

    If it’s any consolation: I don’t own any i-devices, and have to keep asking my kids whether what they’re holding is an iPod or an iPhone.

    Personally, I’d be happy if someone would just show me how to set my cell phone so that it rings instead of going directly to voicemail. I have no idea nor care what the other features are.

  3. Lisa Gylsen

    I can so identify with how you feel. I’m swamped with teenagers around me having the latest gadget in the market. But I did notice a common characteristic among them – they have parents working away from home, sending high-end gadgets, branded bags and watches to their teenage kids to make up for their absence. They give their kids credit card extensions and are currently trying to keep their heads above a sea of credit card bills.

    I have two teenagers myself, and although they’d mention to me once in awhile that their best friend got the latest headphone model for their iPod for a silly $179 or the latest mobile phone model, they’d rather have Dad and Mom at home everyday when they come home from school.

    They’re happy with a decent PC set-up which they share, and once in awhile would borrow my laptop. They don’t have one of their own yet. They get hand-me-down iPods from their cousins who move up to newer models – and they’re happy with what they have.

    The important thing is to let your children know the value of hard work – and let them see you doing it. Then they don’t demand or squirm when their best friend gets the latest high-tech gadget. Our kids have souls, not just wallets. They appreciate the values we teach them when we hold back material stuff – even if we can afford them. And I know they’ll appreciate it when they’re all grown up.

    My parents did the same thing back then. And I appreciate that they held back, too. My dad was a sought-after lawyer during his times. But he didn’t shower us with material stuff. He gifted us with integrity and a good name – and that’s really what matters.

  4. Kathleen Casey

    How about this? Another expectation out there is that relatives will buy expensive stuff for the kids. I have never been a sap for the gift grab for birthdays and Christmas. Parents, especially females, can be bold about expressing their children’s entitlement and it appears to escalate every year. Does that ever make me even more convinced that I am in the right about keeping my wallet zipped. It is wrapped up on their own egos somehow I guess. I don’t tell them what to do but they won’t return the favor. They are dead serious. They have no idea how amusing they are.

  5. SHG

    There’s an element of plausible deniability when the shiny toy comes as a gift from someone other than the parents, even if it’s the parents who tell the person what to buy. 

  6. brooks

    While I agree with the point of your post, you can get an iPhone for under $100 at Walmart, of all places. I’m not sure it’s the best example to support your argument. Now, the iPad…

  7. Kathleen Casey

    My perception is that they want to indulge them if they can afford to and want the world to know it. Parents also want the world to indulge them especially if it saves them the cost. More of them here in the hinterlands than in your neighborhood may not know enough to disguise the attitude.

    But then again I and everyone else I knew would typically get shirts fit for school and other needs, not wants, from older relatives because they were helping our parents. And nothing from our parents’ generation. They had their own kids and they were typically struggling too. A different experience.

  8. SHG

    It’s fine.  Some will buy them the first day out, and others at Wal-Mart when the price drops.  Some buy the Louis Vuitton bag, and some the knock off.  It still costs money to show the world that you have every toy, and even at the Wal-Mart level, it’s $100 gone.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but $100 is still $100 to me.

  9. Stephen

    Regardless of what the device itself costs the overwhelming balance of the expense is the monthly subscription to run the device – it’s around $30pcm for 18 or 24 months for the iPhone, isn’t it?.

  10. Jamie

    Reminds me of a sign in my law school’s financial aid office:

    If you live like a lawyer while you’re a student, you’ll live like a student while you’re a lawyer.

    They ought to put a variation of that in every undergrad institution’s financial aid office.

Comments are closed.