This filtered reality which we’re bombarded with 24/7 is selling a new definition of success, which is made up of a formula of no hard work, jet-setting around and making copious amounts of money.
Abi Wilkinson recently wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian in response to her generation being slagged off as vain, lazy and entitled. Her conclusion? Millennials aren’t lazy snowflakes, they just don’t expect to work for free.
Could the possibility of working long hours for little pay be putting them off from joining the labour force? Maybe the pull of an alternative lifestyle seems more appealing than sitting behind a desk and performing menial tasks.
But there’s also the sad reality of economic downturn, mental health issues, unemployment and lack of access to education – a reality that puts many young people at the mercy of their “bank of mom and dad” for much longer.
Twenty-two-year-old Keanu Daniels, going by the stage name The Kulture, is a rapper, songwriter and performance artist hailing from Cape Town. “I started rapping at the age of 14 after admiring artists like Michael Jackson, Lil Wayne and Eminem,” he says. Daniels tried joining the formal job sector and even studied for a while. “I wanted to do something that really makes me happy,” he says before adding that his dedication and drive is what inspired him to pursue a career in music.
And it’s not just Daniels with a goal for stepping out of the box. Just recently a survey by a UK travel firm found that today’s children are not interested in becoming doctors or lawyers. The research revealed that three quarters of children would like to be a YouTube personality or vlogger.
The eldest of two children, Daniels knows he can always re-enter the job market if things don’t go according to plan. He also admits that his choice has put a strain on his mother, financially: “It might not be this way for everyone who isn’t in the formal job sector, but there are individuals who, like me, are lucky enough to have a parent who supports their goals.”
Parenting expert Lee Koetser says that one has to look at the bigger picture when it comes to millennials and the current socio-economic climate. “The controversial topic of Generation Y being the lazy, narcissistic and entitled generation has been highlighted for some time. Why do people make assumptions? By assuming the above statement, we are not taking world-shifting issues into account,” she says.
While Koetser is not disputing that this generation is more sheltered, mollycoddled and spoilt, she does say that we need to look at the picture in its entirety. There’s the issue of high property costs, the danger of living alone and jobs are just harder to come by.
Daniels’s story isn’t different from other young people in the same situation. He even admits that his choices put financial strain on his family, but he does occasionally make money at events where he performs and does what he can to ease the burden for his single mother.
But as a parent, how do you nudge your kids into a world where they need to earn their keep? “Adults need to get off their privileged rear ends and earn their stripes,” adds Koetser. “Whatever your race, religion, socio-economic background, you need to work for your status.”
Koetser also suggests that as a parent you find a way to make it work for you. For example, if they’re living under your roof rent-free, get them to contribute to the cleaning and cooking. Make it clear to them that your home is not a bed and breakfast.