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Saturday, 21 July 2018

Generation Y Me

One of the wonderful things about YouTube is the ability to constantly discover new information with a few simple clicks. Many people prefer visual learning to reading, and watching a colourful and engaging video with different images and good lighting helps to draw viewers in. (Its also why I put a lot of images in my blog posts; anyone would be turned off by a giant block of text).

Yesterday I discovered a channel called 'Thoughty2.' Its an information channel made by a British YouTuber about various social topics. The first video that caught my eye was about Millennials and depression. A lot of articles have been circulating online and in print for years about how those aged 35 and under are rife with mental illness. (There is a slight generational gap between people born between 1980-1995 and those born 1996+. We're known as 'Generation Z', which I feel is more accurate as we were born into the internet age whereas those who are slightly older were witnessing its growth).

For the sake of this post, everyone born post 1980 shall be referred to as a Millennial, aka Generation Y. Or Generation Y Me, as we are. My generation are some of the most entitled and self-absorbed people ever to appear in the West. We are obsessed with taking pictures of ourselves to show off how gorgeous we are. Sometimes when I flick through the selfies on my phone I think 'geez, Zarina, we get it; you're madly in love with your beautiful face. Cut it out man!'

But in order to realize why we're a generation obsessed with ourselves, we need to look at how the school system is arranged. When I was in primary and secondary school, people were constantly given certificates and trophies just for existing. Everyone was made to feel 'special.' You didn't have to be extraordinarily talented in a certain area to be shown you were great.

I used to think to myself, 'why have I been given a certificate just for showing up to school on time? Shouldn't I be on time anyway?' Constantly praising kids for no real achievement leads them to believe that they are entitled to rewards without actually having to work hard. A great line from the film 'The Incredibles' is 'they keep creating new ways to reward mediocrity.' Why does someone need a ceremony just for moving from one year to the next? It's a joke.

In addition, there's the problem of everyone being 'equal.' Comprehensive schools are now all about making everyone feel 'special', thus kids who actually are extraordinary get lumped in with kids who can't be bothered to try, in an effort to show that we're all the same. But truthfully, we're not. Everyone is talented at different things. 

I suck at physics. Throughout my university course I've barely shown up to my Music Production lectures. Why? Because I would rather work with a producer that knows what they are doing. I don't understand production; I can write songs, play guitar, perform and work with people. But why should I force myself to be good at 'everything'? If there's something I struggle to understand, what's wrong with getting someone who is good with production and physics and engineering to do the job?

We can't all be great at everything because our brains work in different ways, and if we were good at everything we would never be able to be great at one thing. Jack of all trades but Master of none. In order to be extraordinary at one thing, you have to be bad at a lot of things, simply because that one thing must take up too much of your time to be able to explore 'everything.' I decided a long, LONG time ago that I wanted to be great at writing; poetry, prose, non-fiction and songs, and that I wanted to be a great musical performer and be able to entertain crowds with my songs. Those are the things I have worked hardest on in my life and will continue to do so, probably forever.

But back to school. I don't blame teachers at all; I loved most of my teachers throughout all my schooling years. I empathized with a lot of them; it's not fair to love a subject deeply but then to only be stuck teaching bored kids exam practice. Therein lies my next point (which Thoughty2 explained most eloquently); school is not about learning. Our school system model has not changed since the Industrial Revolution, which needed to turn kids into drones so they could make good factory workers.

It's absurd that you should have to ask permission to go to the toilet, or that if you're starving you have to wait an hour before you're allowed to eat. I have a post where I wrote out how school is a lot like prison in the way the system is, and a person in the comments also compared it to the military. The military is about discipline and training people to follow instructions, but people join the army voluntarily. School should be about exploring our individual creative talents, be they academic, sporty, culinary or artistic. But instead we're still being taught like factory workers, packaged off to work for some major corporation.

We're in a world of innovation now. You can publish a book yourself on Amazon (link to my new book is here, darlings:
You can start a business from your bedroom. Hopefully the world of mass corporations controlling everyone is starting to disintegrate as small businesses and companies take over. Why bother signing with some major record label who won't give you any creative control and will take most of your money when you can release your own music independently? While social media has its problems, from a business perspective (if used strategically) it can be amazing.

Another thing I found ridiculous about my peers in school, which links to the feelings of entitlement, was laziness. Teachers would spoon-feed us the information to regurgitate, making us revision packs and providing plenty of support sessions. Yet students still whined about how hard it all was and how they weren't getting any help and continued to disrupt the classes for everyone else. This wasn't specific to any race/class either, it was just a general mentality I witnessed among my peers.

This is again why 'equality' entitlement mixed with regurgitating facts is so damaging. Students of similar abilities, tastes and learning styles should be put together in small groups so they can all get the best out of their sessions. How on earth can one teacher be expected to control a class of 25 students with mixed personalities, talents and attention spans? Its so stupid I can barely stomach the stupidity.

Sadly, this extends right up into university level. While I am sure there are many of whom their degrees are in correlation with their careers, because anyone can go to university now as we're all 'equal' and 'special', the value of a degree has rapidly declined. I'm not saying people shouldn't go to university, nor am I saying its entirely useless, but I do think we need to think a bit more about why we pursue higher education, and what the alternatives are. In a world of so many options, going to university for the sake of it to walk out with debt and confusion again seems so absurd I feel like AJ Soprano questioning the absurdity of life.

And a final point (which Thoughty2 brought up in one of his videos), the school system ignores biology. I was almost always exhausted aged 14-18 (no wonder me and probably many of my peers were depressed), and in sixth form I was reading about circadian rhythms. During adolescence, a human's natural circadian rhythm programs us to get up later and sleep later due to hormonal changes. As children we're wired to get up early, and then it changes as adolescents, and then finally goes to a moderate pattern in adulthood.

So why on earth do most schools require teenagers to arrive before 9 o'clock in the morning? Not to mention 6 hours of trudging through lessons with minimal breaks, seeing people you don't like or relate to, 'learning' in a non-stimulating fashion, getting given useless piles of homework that require you to memorize more facts, and this is all on top of the narcisstic stress of wanting to take the best selfie and write the funniest status to impress your friends - is it any wonder us youngsters are a mess?

Video that inspired this:

Credits to Thoughty2. 


Different generations:

Teens and circadian rhythms:

Article I wrote about the education system for an online youth magazine:

Related posts about school and young people:

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
I've also published three YA fiction books and two poetry volumes. To check em out, copy and paste this link into your browser: