A Millenial Rant
I’m going to rant. Soz’ Fam.
It started, as all good rants do, with a Facebook article.
There I was at my computer during a lunch break, fork in hand, chicken juice dripping on my keyboard, mindlessly scrolling through my feed when an article caught my attention.
“Bullshit, You Aren’t Living,” it said.
Next to it was a picture of a gorgeous 23-year-old (at a guess) writer with bronze skin and a longboard who probably woke up like that. I even have a photo of her. Shakira herself would be envious of that shaggy blonde hair.
The premise of the article: leave your day job and go do what you love.
“Our generation is blessed with living in a world where we can do whatever the hell we want,” she told us, “we can pull jobs out of our assholes and throw pasta on walls. There are kids pranking their Moms on their Youtube channels and getting paid 60 000 a video off advertising. We live in a cool time, are you aware of what we can do, what you can do?”
Honestly, this writer is the ultimate Millennial. She puts Selena Gomez to shame. I stalked her on Instagram to try to find out how she pays the bills and this was what I discovered: “I take slabs of my heart and share them with the world for a living.”
You can’t help but admire that.
I’m ALL FOR going for your dreams and thinking outside the box (and I have nothing against longboards or the author), but the stance of the article made me cringe because it felt like it showed only one side of a complex story.
Two days later, something else happened added to Facebook article Millennial induced rant.
Now that I had checked out the blonde longboarder on Instagram, the app started throwing Millennial superheroes at me faster than a boy can like a bikini photo.
There was the couple in Iceland drinking coffee in perfectly coordinated outfits overlooking an emerald green lake.
There was the yoga girl in trendy yoga pants “finding herself” in Bali.
There was the save Africa humanitarian playing with children in the soil of Uganda (make sure you put that in bold on your resume).
I stopped to read the comments.
- “I love that you’re so brave.”
- “Keep making the world a better place.”
- “Wow, you’re such an inspiration.”
An inspiration? An inspiration? Wait, a second, this human being spent 10 days abroad on a holiday- isn’t this pushing inspiration a little far?
Somewhere in our generation’s desire for adventure and purpose, we have idolized humanitarian ventures and travel. An “everyday job” doesn’t cut it any longer and as the Facebook article said, “…you aren’t living”.
The thing with this addiction with world-changing is that it can be a little, well, narcissistic. It focuses on everything seen- the photos, the campaigns, the stories and the big dreams. It conveniently leaves out things like, you know... responsibility, loyalty, and commitment.
I guess those just don’t look as cool on an Instagram feed?
If you hate your job, then yes get the heck out of there and figure something else out. Travel, you are going to be a better person if you are brave, step out and experience new things.
My problem with all of the article, and hence the rant is, it’s a little presumptuous to tell people they aren’t living when you were born in a first world country with more resource and opportunity than you have the time to expand.
Zimbabwe, a neighbouring country to South Africa, has an unemployment rate of 95%. At least half of the Uber drivers I travel with are Zimbabwean and I know many of them send back earnings from what they make to support their families. They drive 12-hour shifts through the night to make enough to survive. Most of them won’t go home for Christmas at the end of the year. I don't think they aren't living. I think they are living with different priorities.
For people born in third world countries, having a job is a privilege.
For me, traveling and volunteering, despite what it says in the Millennial cool book, doesn’t qualify you as an inspirational person. If you travel you are wealthy; you are not inspirational.
The people who inspire me aren’t on pulpits or taking photos of themselves in third world countries. The people who inspire me are people who live, simple, unassuming every day lives with dignity and integrity. This can be the cleaner who cleans my church once everyone is left, the single Mom who works at a job she doesn’t love to pay for her kids to go to school and never complains, or the Dad who works two jobs so that he can afford the operation his elderly Father needs.
It’s the people who don’t care about the likes that deserve them more than anyone else.
Maybe I’m a hypocrite because I love to travel more than almost anything else. I hope, though, that when I travel I’ll always do it with empathy and without moral vanity.
I was recently in Israel and a family invited us over to Shabbat and it impacted me profoundly. I pray I’ll never lose a sense of honour that people from a different culture would graciously share their worlds with me. And that in the end, I would always care about the individual person I meet far more than the abstract concept of humanitarianism (Are you guilty of being a humanitarian douchebag?)
So, travel! Travel and see the world for it’s a wonderful and heartbreaking place. Travel, but don’t do it for the pictures, or compassion hit, or Instagram comments. Rather do it to rebuild the crumbling bridges of understanding which separate one human with another.
We were created to care for each other and you don’t need to go anywhere special to do this. If we care about the people we work with, from the cashier we buy our food at, to our Great Aunty who we don’t really like, then we are changing the world and we ARE really living.
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