By IAN YEE
HERE at R.AGE, we’ve always loved featuring enterprising young people out there doing big things. As much as they make us feel miserable about our lowly, crappy existence as journalists, they do inspire us as well with their disgustingly perfect stories of how they stuck it to the man, followed the dream and succeeded.
In fact, we dedicate a full page to a young personality like that every week (our Get Personal column). And it’s not a page full of text, mind you. We plaster their photos across the whole page.
We celebrate their achievements, we promote their causes, and they get a giant photo of themselves on The Star. Everybody’s happy (mainly them, of course)!
But now here’s the problem – do young people really need more messages telling them how special they are? This is a generation that – like it or not – made Kim Kardashian a success. They really don’t need more convincing that anyone, and I mean anyone, can make it big.
About half of them would have grown up sobbing in their bedrooms to a soundtrack of Never Say Never (my soundtrack growing up was Man In The Mirror. #JustSayin’), while the other half would probably be following Rihanna on Instagram thinking “I could be a self-indulgent popstar smoking joints and partying all week too!”
Is it any surprise, then, that all the experts we spoke to for our cover story said young people today can’t find the motivation to take up a part-time job? Think about it – who were the waiters at the last restaurant you went to? Probably a foreigner, right?
Is it because the pay is too low for a local teenager to even bother? Well for starters, the minimum wage is now RM4.33 per hour. Let’s round it up to RM5, which means you earn RM300/month working just three hours a day, five days a week. You could buy your own iPad Mini in four months!
And mind you, money really isn’t the main point of a student working part-time.
Time magazine recently described this generation – Generation Y (aka “millenials”) – as “entitled narcissists”. In fact, they printed those words on their cover page. Compared to the generation before, the article said, 58% of college students in the United States scored higher on a narcissism scale. Compared to the generation now in their 60s, the rate of narcissism personality disorder is almost three times higher.
They are, quite simply, the “look at me!” (more like #LookAtMe – makes it easier to search) generation. Instagram’s new video function is proof of that. Social media is constantly looking for new and improved ways for young people to shine the spotlight on themselves, and we can’t get enough of it! Justin Bieber’s first Instagram video got 1.3 million “Likes” and over 200,000 comments. Our collective narcissism is a beast that keeps feeding on itself.
But as someone who’s stuck right in the middle (born in the 80s), I’m not quite sure which annoys me more – the emo, “everything is pointless” moroseness of Generation X, or the nauseating self-entitled optimism of the current Generation Y.
One thing’s for sure, though – millenials are way harder to get rid of. They are so confident, so self-assured (rightly or wrongly) and so damn optimistic; and ultimately, I think that’s what will redeem them.
While it’s true that many of them will fall victim to their own bloated expectations and sense of self-worth when life eventually throws them a curve ball, but who’s to say they won’t pick themselves up and learn from those mistakes?
From celebrity bloggers to celebrity YouTubers, this is a generation that refuses to sit still. True, they might not be the best at scooping fries behind the counter. Yes, they’d rather spend half a day reading and writing on their school’s Facebook confession page. But they’re also the same kids who’d dream of becoming famous makeup bloggers, noted fashion Instagrammers, famous YouTube singers or even popular parody Twitter account holders.
The Time article also noted that millenials in the working world were more likely to demand attention from their CEOs – but they were more likely to get it too! Perhaps it’s because they’re persistent and annoying, but maybe it’s because they have genuinely good ideas borne from a lifetime of keeping their minds open to the endless possibilities available to them.
So I’m going to answer my own question now – do young people now really need to be reminded how special they are? After five years of writing for R.AGE, I can only think of one answer – #HellYeah.
Have Generation Y kids become too narcissistic and self-entitled? Tell Ian what you think by tweeting @thestar_rage with the hashtag #TellIan. Cos, y’know, it’s all about what YOU think =P