February 2, 2005
This is my article that made it into the upcoming issue of Iron Warrior. Relevant to us n’est-ce pas?
This week’s Time Magazine has an article about “twixters”. What are twixters? Although it would seem to make a lot of sense, they aren’t actually people who collect Twix. They are people in the twenty-something age group who aren’t kids anymore, but haven’t yet become adults in the sense that they aren’t ready to settle down and start a family. I think the best way to describe a twixter is one who has just graduated from university.
It seems that in the last 20 years or so, western civilization has stopped marrying in the early 20s and delayed marriage for almost ten years. During these extra ten years of freedom, they’ve been bouncing between jobs, trying new things, travelling, sleeping around, and most importantly enjoying their lives. Of course they’re not completely wasting their lives; they’re picking up practical life skills that school hasn’t exposed them too and saving money by living at home. The article cites that 20% of twixters are still living at home at age 26, double the percentage that lived with their parents in the 70s. The norm of a 40 year old, balding geek with a big beer belly living in the basement of his parent’s house is not so far off anymore.
A second reason for the increase of twixters is that it’s become difficult to be economically independent by your early 20s. Most new graduates coming out of university at age 22 or 23 are burdened by student loans and will have to end up carrying more debt to buy a house and a car. The thought of raising your progeny without a stable income doesn’t seem to appeal to most people.
Being an engineering student at Waterloo does have its advantages. While our program lasts longer than other universities, we end up with fewer student loans (those 15% per year increases in deregulated programs don’t really help!), and pick up those valuable life skills over Coop. We shouldn’t have problems to the same extent that twixters do; but unless you’re lucky and well off, you will still have to save up before you can build a home for your family.
It would be unfair to say that being a twixter didn’t have its advantages. When you’re not tied down with a family, you have so much more freedom. Can you imagine having to bring your wife to a strip club in Vegas? neither could I (but if you could, then she’s a keeper). Without a home, you have no responsibilities. All your income is disposible so you can buy the latest high-definition portable plasma media centre that you’ve been salivating over. And perhaps the most important thing, if you don’t sleep at night it’s because you chose not to, not because your goddamn baby keeps crying and waking you up.
I made a joke near the beginning by saying that a twixter is someone who has just graduated from university. I’m in 4B so this is my last term as an undergrad and I can confidently say that very few people really know what they will be doing a year from now. Oh sure, people have plans to travel or maybe they even have a job, but these seem like putting off the inevitable decision rather than taking the next step and getting on with your lives.
I remember being in OAC (a long time ago), and I had to make a life altering decision; I had to decide where to go for university. I could’ve stayed at home and attended the University of Toronto, or I could move out and go to Waterloo (or I guess to some of those other universities which can’t compare to the high quality education I received here). The consequences were huge, but the conclusion was reached relatively quickly.
This time around, the decision is not as easy as it was in high school. University and Coop were supposed to help us decide what we’re going to do, but it seems most likely that if you’re in fourth year and clueless about what you’re going to do in the future, you will for better or worse end up as a twixter.