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OnWords: Adulting


Among the many things Millennials are supposed to have killed is the word “adult.”

For evidence of this, their critics look no further than the word “adulting,” which creates a verb out of what used to be a venerable and well-respected noun.

A typical usage of “adulting” might be something like “I’d love to stay late at work and fix all your computer problems, but I’m done adulting for today.”

The implication here is that “adult” has moved from a state of being to an activity, from a fact of growing up to a choice one makes depending on one’s whim or mood.

Thus “adulting” is a stand-in for everything else critics of Millennials don’t like about them: that they refuse to play by workforce rules, that they refuse to leave their parents’ basements, that they choose not to learn how to drive.

These charges are, by and large, unfair: Millennials are saddled with unprecedented student debt; graduated into a rotten job market; and, being the kids of soccer moms, were shuttled about instead of allowed to travel alone.

But that adulting is optional is fairly clear, from accountants who pretend to be bikers to celebrities who pretend to be politicians.

“Adulting” just articulates what we already know: being an adult is really just acting as an adult. Those who use the word are simply being honest about when, where, and why they are going to do that.

A healthy attitude, that.