We've Done This To Ourselves

Tim Kreider, in The New York Times:

I was a member of the latchkey generation and had three hours of totally unstructured, largely unsupervised time every afternoon, time I used to do everything from surfing the World Book Encyclopedia to making animated films to getting together with friends in the woods to chuck dirt clods directly into one another's eyes, all of which provided me with important skills and insights that remain valuable to this day. Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

I used to cruise into the Sydney CBD pretty much every day after school. I'm fairly certain my parents were nome the wiser or it never really bothered them. Not that I ever asked. I watched the city go through the massive building boom of the 80s, the cranes looking like giant robots propping up the sky. I was pretty tough. I'd hang out in the Sydney City Library, sucking up whatever caught my eye that day, but only after feeding whatever money I had into machines named Skate Or Die, Gauntlet, Wonderboy In Monsterland, Double Dragon, or the latest game that had just been carted in to the Timezone on George Street, opposite to what used to be Hoyts. All this on my own at the age of ten. Those were the days, the formative days, that have ingrained my laid back approach to most things. That and I'm a bit of a tripper. It's hard to imagine a ten year old kid treading my path these days: books are dead, video arcades are museums, and the city is well overgrown with concrete and steel. And there's no turning back.