The Societal Pressures of the Younger Generation. (UK)

Picture by: Megan Smith (2017). The Odyssey.

*** Warning – Long article ***

Many young people look forward to going to college or getting their first car to become a more independent person. In this process, it is easy to feel that you are under a pressure to get everything done ‘in time,’ which is far from the case. There is no time limit as to when you have to do something. It is just another one of societies ongoing pressures on young people. While it is important to grow and learn all of these things, take your time.

Introduction:

Over the years, young people have been mollycoddled and over-pressured to get things done, and it still has not changed. It is difficult to know if young people are now focused and engaged or have completely turned off. They have so many labels and stereotypes placed on them, that they are pretty much named before they even go out and do anything with their lives.

What is undeniably true about this is that the rates of self-harm, depression and anxiety among young people are at unprecedented levels, but what is being done about it?

A Few Problems of the Younger Generation:

Youth, traditionally thought of as the most enviable time of life, can now look like a deeply challenging and unpleasant time of life. The sense of a struggling generation has undoubtedly taken on new dimensions. What happened? 

Below is a small list of the many problems the younger generation now have to face in modern-day society. It is not an extensive list, but includes some of the main problems:

(1) Youth unemployment has risen since 2016.

(2) Higher education and Academic Inflation is rapidly rising.

(3) A drought of affordable housing paired with low pay is keeping many young people under parental roofs and trapped in ‘suspended adulthood.’

(4) Young people now performing to the same high-standards, so it is almost impossible to stand out.

(5) Social media and the internet with its cyber-bullying, body shaming, pornography and more is encroaching young people’s well-being.

(6) Having children in economic impossibility.

(7) Perpetual job insecurity.

(8) Climate Change and general environment degradation.

(9) Mental Illness is continually on the rise due to the lack of resources available.

(10) The relentless pressure of achieving high grades is causing immense stress in the classroom.

(11) Modern-day trends need to be followed by its young people in order to stay ‘with the times.’

(12) The general use of technology has taken over young people’s lives.

(13) Tests are becoming even harder both in and out of the classroom. Example – GCSE’S and Driving Tests.

(14) Young people feel they need to do things as quickly as possible, which can sometimes cause financial mistakes. 

After reading this list, would you agree?

The experience of adolescence is defined as the period after childhood, from puberty to maturity. Is it tougher now than it was for previous generations? Some experts believe that the full intellectual maturity is now reached at the age of 27. Would you agree?

Observable developments, particularly economic, look like they are heading in one direction and that is the further destruction of opportunities for these young people to build reasonable lives for themselves. Unless radical economic, social and political change takes place, young people may have to live out lives of chronic job insecurity, unaffordable housing and remain in constant financial debt.

An anonymous writer for the Guardian Newspaper mentions how she “feels sorry for this generation,” and that “this is a world less promising for youth.” There are many parents and individuals who would agree with this point.

Previous generations did not face even a fraction of the hurdles and obstacles that young people today face. Previous generations had free post-secondary education, highly affordable housing and boundless good job opportunities. They moved out of their parents’ homes when 18, got their own apartments, went to free universities or walked into low skill high paying jobs, bought their first home a few years later, then started a family, which they could afford to have, had easy access to emergency healthcare when necessary, did not fear losing their jobs as businesses were constantly hiring for more employees, were free at the end of the working day from their jobs so that they could go live the rest of the day with family and friends without having work hanging over their heads and more.

Young people nowadays do not have any of the above.

The Uber app, which is the beginning of feudalisation of most if not all forms of future work will cause these young people to be glued to their smart phones as they wait for the extremely temporary employment scraps that businesses may throw their way. They will be on standby desperate for any work at all. What social safety that remains from days past will be steadily dismantled making these youngsters entirely dependent on employment scraps. They will be completely vulnerable for the passing needs and whims of the 1% . The only young people that will have a chance of any sort now are the children of the wealthy and the extremely well connected.

Is this really the society wanted for future generations?

Previous Generations to Modern-Day Generations:

There are many similarities between previous generation problems and modern-day problems, which have no changed as much. Depression, anxiety, self-harm, drug-use, eating disorders, psychosis, sexuality and gender identity issues were all problems within 1976, but have since continued into the modern-day society.

Former Director of Open Doors, Julia Britton, says:

“Many of the issues facing young people have not changed. I look at myself as a teenager in the 1970’s and so many issues were around: teen pregnancies, drug and alcohol misuse, psychotic breakdowns, financial and identity pressures. But, there are many differences, too. The context certainly is different. I think there are far more pressures educationally, more sense that it is all hinged on one exam, and certainly teachers are hugely concerned about the mental distress they are seeing. Then there is cyber-bullying where you cannot switch off and you cannot get away. Pornography, a normal part of development, is now very far removed from Playboy. A lot of young people are disturbed by what they see online.”

The Internet:

The internet has grown rapidly over the past couple of years and there have been major developments to the system. From social media, uploading videos online and getting paid for it, entertainment and news websites and more, however, could this also be viewed as a bad thing?

Nowadays the unforgiving, critical and acerbic comments fill young people’s 24 hour online lives if they are being cyber-bullied – they literally have nowhere to escape. They have a range of phenomenal pressures to endure and being online itself is another pressure to add to the never-ending list.

Like most things, the internet is both helpful and detrimental. If a young person types in ‘self-harm,’ they can either visit a professional website where they will be offered help and support, or they can visit a destructive forum, which gives them ideas on ‘how-to’ self-harm and hide certain disorders. So, it is good and bad.

Social Media:

Social media in modern-day society has just become the ‘norm.’ It is extremely rare not to find a young person with their phone on them or taking ‘selfies.’ It has just become a normal part of life for them, but to what extent? 

Social media has a huge influence over young people, because that is where almost everything happens. Following people on Twitter, using hashtags, creating videos and blogging your daily life on YouTube, it is almost as if you are placing your life on the internet for it to keep in storage forever. 

As a lot (not all) of young people are easily influenced to do something, such as follow demoralising celebrity trends and behave inappropriate ways, and social media has the power to empowering that behaviour. 

A key example of what social media does to you is explained by a Former Facebook Employee, Chamath Palihapitiya, pictured below:

Former Executive Director of Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya, said:

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. This is a global problem. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”

He also tells people to ‘soul-search’ about their own relationship with social media. He added:

“You do not realise it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but you have to decide how much you are going to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”

Overall, Chamath Palihapitiya felt tremendous guilt over the development of Facebook and mentions how it is, “ripping apart society.”

Would you agree?

Do you feel a slight buzz when you receive a like or a comment on one of your statuses, and do you feel the need to reply? If so, that is exactly what Chamath is talking about. 

Education:

Education for young people both in secondary schools, further and higher education has come to be very pressurising. If you drop grades a bit, you feel like a failure and sometimes, teachers or lecturers immediately ignore you for those who are ‘high-achievers.’

Being in secondary education now is almost the equivalent of being a robot. You are having to keep up with everything, look a certain way to fit-in, and it is a lot harder trying to talk with your parents or people at school who are not trained in the ways of mental health.

Education can now be daunting for young people. Too much time (by necessity) is focused on academic development and other activities. Academic endeavors focus the individual singularly for the most part, vice collaboratively. Now, with the excessive testing, the stress begins as young as eight. Play-times and sports are incredibly structured, there is less opportunity for creative development and less opportunity to learn how to manage the environment without intervention. Unfortunately, in both secondary and further education, due to how difficult things have become, a lot of young people do not believe they will have a future, which leads to suicide.

These are young people with their lives ahead of them and they are already thinking about their adult life. This is a deeply worrying state of affairs we are faced with. 

Education problems do not stop there! Due to the insane league tables and targets, schools and educational institutions put a ridiculous amount of pressure on young people and its staff. There have been past cases where parents have been told by staff to spend every moment with their child studying for their tests. What about the child’s welfare? Does that count? The constant drive from the government to improve already good schools and institutions is harming children and young people, mentally and emotionally.

Is there really a need for the increase in standardised tests?

Capitalism will not allow young people to have as much freedom as generations before them. Now, young people are treated like commodities to train and exploit. Their choices are very limited by design. Fascism (corporatism) makes them drones and ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ is the subtext to their lives. The narrative young people hear is nothing but that of indentured slavery, their means to rebel, music, self-realisation and recreational mind expansion are all controlled by corporate mechanisms in one way or another. 

Standardised Tests:

Why do we now have so many tests becoming even more difficult? It is understandable that education is getting with the times, but tests should not be advancing to the point that young people want to kill themselves. Why has the question of “is this not enough?” not been considered? It is understandable that there will always be a few that break the rules, but must everyone really pay for their mistakes? It is like scolding everyone on a table for one persons bad behaviour. Is that what is really going on here?

(1) School tests.

(2) Theory and driving tests.

(3) Further education and Higher education exams.

(4) Assignments and assessments.

(5) Other tests.

A simple question – Why? Less advanced tests worked well for previous generations, so why do we need to make them harder now?

Time:

No matter what anyone tells you, slow down. You have all the time in the world. Example – You do not have to get a driving license by the age of 18. You have public transport to help you get around. Yes, it would be helpful, but do not force yourself to learn it so fast, because it is not just about the driving. You have road tax and car insurance to pay on top of that, which means you would have to get a job in an already struggling economy. Another example – University, you do not have to go. Just because teachers in secondary school highly recommend it, does not mean you must do it. There are other routes you can take, such as apprenticeships, work experience, volunteering, taking a gap year or just heading straight into the workplace and going with the flow. 

Therefore, if you are a young person, do not give in to societal pressures, because you have so much time.

Conclusion:

Being a young person in today’s society is difficult, because of the many pressures they are faced with. From getting high-grades to finding a job and even moving out, it is a difficult world we live in, but who is to blame for it? Is there anyone to blame or have poor choices been made, generally?

Thank you for reading.

What are your thoughts?

References:

I am a freelance writer and aspiring author. My passion lies within UK adult education, stigmatised topics and mental health, however, I aim to keep an open mind.


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