The other day I heard a friend of mine talk about his third life crisis. This made me harken back to half a decade ago when many of my contemporaries were talking about their quarter life crisis. It seems all of these people were and still frequently are not at all happy with their lives, both where they are now and their prospects for the future. It dawned on me that we’re going to have to soon stop moving from crisis to crisis as a generation and admit that we are a generation in crisis. Millennials were given the best opportunity and better tools than any generation before, so why are we now reaching our thirties and still floundering in low paying dead end jobs and lives?
After a few hours of contemplations it finally dawned on me. All other generations before us were sold a bill of goods, for some it was “ask not what your country can do for you” for others it was “greed is good.” We, and I’m talking to Millenials, are the first generation to be SOLD AS GOODS, and the reason we’re all so depressed is that we didn’t even get anything out of the deal. In times past ad agencies would go into the board room of a large corporation and explain how they could sell that corporation’s products, whatever it was, to a certain group of people. At some point in the eighties some Gordon Gekko idolizing Gen-Xer came up with the idea of “brand loyalty.” That concept turned us all into product. Once you have brand loyalty you don’t need to deliver an ever improving product. All you need to do is pay for your audience.
Think about all the time we argue vehemently over relatively minute differences in the things we buy like our cell phones, or the shoes we wear, or the cola we drink. When we really think about it the differences between these things are in fact pretty minimal, and certainly nothing to get into long debates over (The author is admits guilt here). Who needs advertising when you can just pay an ad company to create some brand loyalty for you. Once you have your drones they will take up arms and fight for your cause much better than any billboard or TV spot ever could!
The most depressing thing is it goes much deeper than just the products we buy. Our work lives have been sold as a product to huge companies too. In the past when the economy went to pot it has always sparked a flood of new businesses, new innovations, and new enterprises. We’ve been told our whole lives that we need to keep our head down, work hard, and someone above us will take notice. That attitude in the hands of that same Gordon Gekko loving CEO is a work force that will constantly give their best for almost no money.
So what’s the answer? Make something! Do something! Stop giving your best to people who won’t even notice. Give enough to sustain you then go home and give your best to yourself! There has been a lot of money spent to convince you that you can’t do stuff on your own, but don’t worry there is an entire generation of people out there just like you who have skills that you need and are also working dead end meaningless jobs that exploit them. Partner up! We can change this. Those profit gobbling Gen-Xer CEO types have one disadvantage, they need us, because once we leave they’re lost.
Jake Trunk is a blogger, graphic designer, and comic artist. He lives at his home in Pennsylvania with his etching press, banjos, and greyhound Holly Golightly. You can find his twice weekly webcomic at www.thegrype.com.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”