Moving out of the family home to go it alone is usually a necessary rite of passage for most millennials. But if you have to do it before youâ(TM)re ready - if you get nudged out of the nest rather than getting the option to fly - well, it kind of dulls the excitement a little bit.
If someone had predicted 10 years ago that by 24 Iâ(TM)d be renting in a house with a bunch of strangers while my old, comfy bedroom six miles away sat completely empty and all my friends stayed at home, I would have said that scenario didnâ(TM)t make any sense. My adolescent plan was to live-in; to drain the food supplies and hog the television â" along with my brother â" so we could save money after graduating.
The expectation when I turned 18 was that I would continue my education, but work weekends and evenings to pay for it and get my own place, which I did. And the utilities, And clothes. And transportation. In other words, take responsibility for my life as an adult. I wasn't the only one who did this - my next 3 sisters also moved out on their own in their teens. We couldn't wait to actually be free - even though it meant lots of hard work.
And now we see a surfeit of 30-something and 40-somethings, still virgins, still living with mom, still spending their free time on the internet or playing video games because anything else is too threatening. The same characteristics that make tech a safe choice (no need for social skills, safely isolated from the general public, a culture of sublimating sadness with pissing contests and electronic toys) - well, what are they going to do when mom dies or gets placed in a long-term care facility? Or finds somebody else they want to make a life with and finally puts their foot down and (more than reasonably) says "grow the fuck up and get the hell out?"
They have no real-life skills. They haven't got the ability to break out of their isolation, or they already would have. They haven't developed the resilience to overcome a major life screw-up on their own, or in many cases even how to cook or shop for groceries
Those in such situations for a prolonged period of time end up interpreting events in a different way than the rest of us. With time, it can pass the boundary of what we call "delusional." I've seen how they are now paranoid, germaphobic, refuse to eat a normal diet, become anorexic, friendless (except for their "best friend mom" who they have always lived with in a co-dependent relationship characterized by mutual isolation from everyone else), and rather than trying to get help with their psychological problems insist that their life is somehow a mark of superiority, that there is nothing wrong with them, there really are people following them and targeting them for misery using infrasound projectors and their co-workers cannot be trusted and there really is something wrong with their ears causing pain even though years of tests with specialists have found absolutely nothing wrong.
This 24-year-old is lucky - events have forced her to develop the necessary independence while she's still young enough to adapt. Someone in their 30's 40's or later? They never will. And when mom dies or goes into a home and can no longer pay the rent for both of them, they will become a 50-year-old virgin who will fully retreat into their paranoid delusions. It's always easier to blame someone (or everyone) else if that's all you've ever done.
I know too many people who are in their 30s and 40s who are still living with mom, whose evenings and weekends are filled with internet and video games (yes, one of them is a 40-yer-old virgin - I warned him 10 years ago to get help or this would be the end result because his paranoia was driving everyone else in the office nuts) and seeing every event, no matter how random, as justifying their paranoia.
I would say that most people who fail to launch have more than just an introverted personality - they're fearful of rejection - even though they spend so much time anticipating how every possible outcome of an event can be a sign of rejection, and then when it happens, "see - I told you so" - even when it's obvious to any outsider that it was either a coincidence or their behaviour became a self-fulfilling prophesy.
What would happen if people couldn't retreat into "safe" careers with other similar social misfits, such as tech? Or if people couldn't easily exchange (though they aren't really replacing) social contact with "social" media and video games?
Over the next 20 years, when tech becomes less and less of a viable career, where will these people go? I suspect they will fully retreat from reality. It's easier to play a game than go meet people (and certainly easier than getting a personality transplant). We worry about the future lack of jobs because of AI, but these people aren't really employable in jobs that require human interaction anyway, so the real factor that will characterize those who have jobs from those who do not will be the soft skills. The same soft skills that our smartphones and social media are destroying. "Job retraining" won't help them.