The attractive thing about Class Diagnosis is this: It’s simple. Neither the official nor unofficial sort of diagnosis requires much contact, dialogue, or individual analysis. Everything is on the surface, so it’s easy.
And so wrong. We resented it when they did it to us back in the day and our children resent it now. Class Diagnosis isn’t scientific; it isn’t even rational. It certainly isn’t fair.
Class Diagnosis has a still uglier outcome: Self-fulfilling prophecy.
When we kept hearing how self-centered our generation was, a lot of Boomers reached a point where we seemed to give in. Why wouldn’t we? American business worked from the hypothesis that self-centered people could be bought. So they tried to buy us and eventually it worked. They succeeded at least partly because we bought into the stereotypes about our out-of-control appetites. If I have but one life to live...
When our older children heard how lazy, unmotivated, antisocial and disaffected they were, some of them reached a point where they seemed to give in. Why wouldn’t they? We didn’t ask, we just assumed. And you know what happens when we assume...
Those who graduate from high school or college this spring are not Generation X or Y, as envious middle-aged baby boomers have been pleased to tag them. They are as much Generation A as Adam and Eve were, as the middle-aged baby boomers, their parents, used to be.
—Kurt Vonnegut in Rolling Stone, 5.28.98
What assumptions are we pouring on our younger children? How long before they say screw it and just give in?
The last thing I want to do to someone I care about is frustrate her by assuming I know her thoughts and motives without bothering to ask. I know that’s ugly because I felt like adults did it to me when I was young. I also know I’ve done it to my daughter and if I could take back just one thing, I think maybe that’s what I would choose. So...sorry Kate.
— from Raising Adults