Did TV contribute to Gen X’s financial freakouts?

After reading this Business Insider article about Generation X and financial stress, it feels like part of the reason this generation feels worthless is because of perception disconnects like those examined in Postmodern Sitcom.

Artist drawing of burning money demonstrates Gen X's financial stress.
“Losing Hand” by Damian Gadal is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Take the Seaver’s home in Growing Pains, the Silver Spoons Stratton estate or even the cool loft of My Two Dads where the living situations weren’t too shabby. Once again, Cultivation Theory skulks out of the recesses of Generation X’s brain with the judgments that we might have similar houses as adults. Reality couldn’t be further from perceptions. If TV created a persona that Gen X felt they needed to live up to as adults, it’s no wonder real-life saw this group buying stuff they couldn’t afford. Now they’re stressed about credit card debt and retirement unpreparedness.

Gen X’ers are rational adults, but the TV they watched back in the day helped the voice in their heads say, “I want that. Charge it, you’ll pay it off.” Even if debts are quickly paid back, the “stuff status” in 80s sitcoms might be the reason Gen X feels financially thin even when they’re not.

Postmodern Sitcom discusses the theme of social status in an upcoming episode. In the meantime, listen to all of the episodes at Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

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