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The Webcomic Overlook #132: Nathan Sorry

There’s been a lot of scary hullabaloo in the media lately asking “What is it about 20-somethings?“, i.e. “How come my unemployed, lazy-ass kids are turning 30 and still living in my basement?” Seriously, my wife turned on the TV this morning, and that’s what they were talking about on the Today Show.

The argument boils down to the idea that 20-somethings are afraid of growing up. Now, I personally believe that a lot of this is the typical sensationalist media panic. When I was but a young El Santo, I remember being handed a similar article by my dad from the Reader’s Digest entitled “The Lazy American Teenager.” I imagine my dad afraid I was turning into a burnt out teen. (Guilty as charged!)

But, for the sake of putting together an intro for this here webcomic review, I’m going to go ahead and take this humbuggery seriously. Here’s a quote form the New York Times:

DURING THE PERIOD he calls emerging adulthood, Arnett says that young men and women are more self-focused than at any other time of life, less certain about the future and yet also more optimistic, no matter what their economic background. This is where the “sense of possibilities” comes in, he says; they have not yet tempered their ideal­istic visions of what awaits. “The dreary, dead-end jobs, the bitter divorces, the disappointing and disrespectful children . . . none of them imagine that this is what the future holds for them,” he wrote. Ask them if they agree with the statement “I am very sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life,” and 96 percent of them will say yes. But despite elements that are exciting, even exhilarating, about being this age, there is a downside, too: dread, frustration, uncertainty, a sense of not quite understanding the rules of the game. More than positive or negative feelings, what Arnett heard most often was ambivalence — beginning with his finding that 60 percent of his subjects told him they felt like both grown-ups and not-quite-grown-ups.

In the end, the emotional paralysis stems from the attempt to maintain, for as long as possible, the elusive pipe dream that you can still mold your own destiny into something that’s better than the pains that the previous generation experienced. It rises from a fear that if you don’t get started on the right foot, you doom yourself to screwing up the rest of your life.

The webcomic I’m reviewing today, Rich Barrett’s Nathan Sorry, taps into the same anxieties. However, unlike others, he gains a priceless gift: an exit strategy for the curse of a life lived badly.

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