American Consequences - February 2019

pared-down existence versus “keeping up with the Joneses.” I came away from my venture into the gig economy with feelings of both admiration and concern... Admiration for the ingenuity with which young people relentlessly search for authentic ways to build a self-sufficient life, and concern that this restless search for authenticity while avoiding a dreaded single point of failure will lead to fractured professional and personal relationships. And I can’t help but wonder where the jobs will be for those not as educated and nimble as the coworkers at Seed. And will anyone want those jobs? Perhaps that’s why a disdain for capitalism and the promise of universal income are so attractive to millennials... As they’ve experienced it, the system is broken. Yet, everyone I spoke with was passionate – even optimistic – about voting and was deeply committed to the environment and improving quality of life. So, music aside, I’ll take Hipsters over Hippies any day.

Kristin and Andrew’s goal, like so many of their employees, is to do what they love and build a business from it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy... or that much fun. Most millennials grew up with dizzying new devices – like 2007’s iPhone – amplified by 2008’s frightening financial instability. It’s easy to imagine anxious parents obsessively grooming their children to succeed in a world whose technology and promise they, themselves, didn’t fully understand. Because of this uncertainty and upheaval, today’s 20-somethings often juggle multiple jobs, anxieties, and relationships in an attempt to eliminate a single point of perceived failure in their professional and personal lives. This allows them to be web designers by day, bartenders by night, with “side gigs” in between. And while pursuing your passion may sound appealing, stress lurks behind every espresso machine... often piled with a mountain of college loans that makes every financial decision more difficult. Back at Seed Coworking, Dylan said that while his lifestyle might look fun, he has no structure or boundaries for his work. Ty, another Seed coworker, agreed that he feels the pressure of work anywhere he goes, “fun” or not. (Ironically, he added that he hated to see his father work at a job he didn’t like until he died.) For some, there is a way out. Many in the gig economy aspire to “get FIREd”... “Financial Independence, Retire Early” is their mantra... To retire early and focus on things that matter – giving back to their community and leaving the world a better place. It’s cutting back and learning to live a

John Fedderke is too young to be Don Draper and too old to be Mark Zuckerberg. He owned an advertising agency for many years and, after retiring, became Director of Marketing for The Toledo Blade. He has lived in Toledo all his life.

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