It's no coincidence that American adults in our 20s and 30s, who've recently been labeled Generation Me, were the first cohort to be targeted as child consumers back in the 1970s and 80s. Saturday morning cartoons were punctuated with commercials of shiny happy kids playing blissfully around the latest talking board game. As we aged, the media became experts at creating marketing campaigns and cultural phenomena that kept us salivating for more. (Fellow New Kids on the Block fans, please rise.) If I had the new tape, I needed the figurines. I already owned the t-shirt, so when was the tour coming to town so I could wear it? (My own father, in fact, drove two hours the week before my 10th birthday so I could see the New Kids live. It was less that I was spoiled and more that all my internal organs would have shriveled and disintegrated if I'd missed seeing Jordan Knight live on that fateful evening in December 1989. When we ran into them having dinner at Denny's after the concert, I was too shy to even utter an awkward, brace-faced hi.)
A famous song from the 1970s suggests you can't always get what you want. Really? Because our generation does. My recent article, Why Am I Still Single?, discusses how consumer culture has made us narcissistic relationship partners, telling us that we should never have to compromise. Those jeans shrunk when you washed them? Sister, go get your money back! That friend chews kinda funny when you go out to dinner? Divert her calls! You're not happy with that job? Change careers! Don't let life's little inconveniences make you suffer -- kick those speed bumps to the curb and get to your happy place!