People underestimate the power of words. All of the time.
Take “slackers,” for example. Once a self-effacing joke, the label became an indelible brand for a generation of young people who often diverge from the direct route of college > career > marriage > kids.
In yesterday’s Times, David Brooks suggested a new frame: The Odyssey Years (“the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood”).
Notice the shift in connotation? (Of course.) And so have others. Brooks’ column has been the Times’ most e-mailed story over the 24 hours and has been picked up by numerous news sources and blogs.
Is that enough to change public perception from one concept to the other? Don’t count on it. But those three simple words have launched a dialogue that didn’t even exist two days ago.