Coming of age in the eBay generation:
'Life-shopping' and the new life skills for the age of eBay
Life-shopping, YEPPIES, Peter-Pan Syndrome, The New Collectivism and the Quarter-life crisis
We've all heard about the 'quarter-life crisis', and associated trends such as adult children still living with their parents, becoming 'permastudents', taking second or even third gap years, job-hopping, mate-hopping, flat-hopping and generally failing to grow up and settle down in the traditional career-house-marriage-kids fashion. Even if they do get married, it's often a 'starter marriage' that falls apart within a few years – and none of them seems ready to have children until it's almost too late (apart, that is, from the ones who get pregnant while they're still at school).
Cue the customary national moan-fest: all the columnists and pundits and letter-writers are either complaining about the feckless behaviour and irresponsible attitudes of the youth of today, or bellyaching on their behalf about how difficult life is, what with student debts and house prices and all, or casting about for someone to blame -mostly coming up with the usual suspects: the government, the schools, the parents, the media, the internet, fast food, mobile phones, computer games…
But what's this really all about? What's really going on here? Why are young people having these 'quarter-life' or 'mid-youth' crises'? Why can't they just grow up, settle down, knuckle under and get on with it (this debate seems to be awash with phrasal verbs) like their parents did? What exactly is their problem? eBay commissioned the social scientists at the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) to find out.
We set out to provide insight into the lives of the 'eBay generation' – those reaching adulthood in the current 'age of eBay. Our aim was to explore and explain current concerns about the 'quarter-life crisis' and associated trends, but also to look ahead: what does the future hold for the eBay generation? What new life-skills will be needed for the age of eBay?
The SIRC study draws on a wide range of data sources – including:
- a critical review of the available research and statistics on young people's lives and opinions
- SIRC's own national surveys and qualitative studies on different aspects of young people's lifestyles and attitudes (everything from drinking and flirting to risk-taking and saving)
- specific focus groups and in-depth interviews exploring the lifestyles, thoughts, plans, hopes and fears of people in both the quarter-life-crisis age-group and the previous generation