Two studies I find of some personal interest. The first, from the University of Michigan, notes that Gen-Xers (the generational cohort of which I am a part) is largely pretty damn happy, hardworking but balanced, and optimistic about their lives. The second from an English sociologist who’s been tracking Goth since their teens and early twenties and finds them more committed to their once-youthful lifestyle than kids who are part of other subcultures.
Neither of these I find particularly surprising. Anecdotally speaking, most of the Gen-Xers I know seem reasonably happy and reasonably stable. Some of this may just be because as a general rule I weeded out high-drama people from my life some time ago and most of the Gen-X folks I know are also college-educated and comfortable, but I think there are other factors as well. One, I suspect seeing some of the mess our boomer parents made of their early adulthoods and relationships made us a bit more cautious about our own level of personal stupidity and more likely to consider consequences before we engaged in a course of action. Among other things, I imagine this is one reason why divorce among the Gen-Xers I know seems less frequent than it was in our parents’ cohort.
Two, when you spend most of your late teens and twenties being told you’re recession-era slackers who will never do better than your parents, then your expectations, shall we say, are sufficiently dampened. Everything looks good after that nonsense.
As for the Goth thing, that makes sense to me too, since the genre is pretty much designed to age relatively gracefully. The music isn’t generally specifically about being young (it’s about being mopey, which can happen at any age) and the clothes are black, which you can wear at any age. And it fades nicely into steampunk when the goths want to go crazy and wear brown. Equally importantly, Goth does not require an anti-intellectual pose; indeed, the more you know about Goethe, romantic poets, existential philosophy and the European cinema of the silent film era, the better of a Goth you’ll be.
In short, being Goth is neither inherently about being young or stupid. One can be young, stupid and into Goth. But you don’t have to be. And that helps. Beware Goth’s sullen suburban nephew Emo, however. That’s already not aging well.