For the uninitiated, this is a children’s picture book written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. The book was published in 1985, some 30+ years ago.
The story is about a hypothetical question on what happens when something is asked, and given. The mouse started with an innocuous cookie request to a boy, then a cup of milk, then a straw and by the end of the book, it has spiralled to a long list of “asks” fulfilled by the boy, who had become rather drained by then.
According to the Washington Post, this highly popular children’s book has a hidden political message. It warns of the pitfalls in the Welfare System, USA’s top national agenda, 3 decades ago. The book highlights the tension within the “Samaritan’s Dilemma”. The differing views between altruism, charity, and helping others attaining self reliance. What if at one point of the story, the boy decided to stop giving and helped the mouse with self reliance?
From a welfare perspective, it would be myopic to discuss the pros and cons of a welfare system, without examining other problems happening in tandem within the economy.
But the focus of this post is not so much on the public policy interpretation but rather, the article on Entertainment Weekly by Marc Snetiker. He did a deconstruct of the book and concluded that the mouse was an embodiment of Millennials. Millennials were raised to believe that they can get a cookie, and dare to ask for more, just like the mouse. But let’s take a step back and think about it. Isn’t the mouse an embodiment of every enterprising generations before? The endless pursuit to improve their existing circumstances, and asking what we thought were right.
To end off, below is a video that fully resonated with me and represented what Marc has written. Watch till the end!
Grew up in Singapore, stood on the cusp of the internet revolution and surfed it (literally). My “cloud” was made up of FTP servers, my “WiFi” were RJ-45 cables that ran across the walls in trunking that my dad hand-laid, and I coded in Turbo Pascal (if you know them, you’re probably as old as I am, or older). 🙂
I’m fascinated by all things digital and still bear nostalgia towards childhood gadgets. My first Pentium-I PC that ran on Windows’98, the comforting sound of the 56K modem, the fun I had with the Nintendo PopEye Handheld, the fights with my siblings over who got to use the land line, and my original Nokia 3310 that’s still sitting somewhere in my mom’s house. Not to mention the grande dames of the living room – the television sets that I grew up watching.
The site name originated from my mother. Every time she wanted to tell me something that I may not like, she’ll always start with “Just general talk…”. From her general talks I’ve learned, reflected, and rebutted (a lot). Caused her (major) heartaches along the way, and still inflicting some (minor ones) on a regular basis.
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