Millennials take a lot of heat for things. They’re rude, we’re told. They’re over-sensitive. They’re irresponsible. They can’t adult. Or so everyone says.
But it’s time to take heart because they are excelling in something. According to The Economist, that something is the care of… houseplants:
“Interest in houseplants as measured by internet search data has closely tracked the surge in sales. The number of Google searches for succulents has risen tenfold since 2010, and other green plants have had similar spurts of popularity.”
In one sense this is good. After all, as Thomas Jefferson noted in a letter to John Jay:
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, & and they are tied to their country & wedded to it’s [sic] liberty & interests by the most lasting bonds.”
So one could say that today’s young people are taking up the agrarian way of life in the small sense in which it’s possible in the modern metropolis life. And as such practices foster virtue, independence, hard work, love for country and liberty, this surge in micro-gardening is a great thing.
But does the rising interest in houseplants also hint at a major void in the life of these same millennials? The Economist suggests the answer to this question by saying, “Although houseplants grow and require care, they are neither as demanding nor as costly as pets or children.”
It’s no secret that millennials are delaying child-bearing and family-rearing more all the time. The cost of college, the pressure of a career, and the supposed desire to maintain a comfortable lifestyle all drive this trend.
But in the midst of this mentality, is there also a deep longing to be a nurturing caregiver? Despite the cultural rejection of children, is there an ingrained desire in young people to love, care for, and nurture something? And if so, do we need to make it a priority to not discourage young people from pursuing marriage, children, and family?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.