• Older folks treasured education as key to success, youth now hustle through Internet
The mid-thirties is an interesting age to be in. We are not old and we are not young; we are neither senior citizens nor members of the youth. We are old enough to start learning the secrets of life, yet we are youthful enough to remember our care-free days.
At this age, I find myself at the optimal vantage point to observe the nuances of the older generation and the younger generations without bias. Also, as the generation that is stuck between the ‘old school’ and the ‘new school’, I often find myself resonating with both sides.
If you have interacted with the young people of today, you will know that they are made differently. They are not the type to follow whatever codes of living that society has put down. The younger generations march to the beat of their own drums. They do not seek to conform or follow the paths of those who lived before them. More importantly, they do not seek anyone’s approval to do what they want.
The younger generations do not want to spend their lifetimes ‘working for the man’ like our parents did. They do not want to toil away at somebody’s business just to pay bills and save the little that is left for old age. Not only do the young people want to work for themselves, they specifically opt to monetise their passions. The youths of today have come up with creative ways to make a living without breaking a sweat. All they need is the Internet and digital platforms, and they can basically turn anything into a business.
This is why universities are seeing lower intakes in recent years unlike our times. During our parents’ era, very few of them had the privilege of attending colleges or universities. At the time, as the young countries were freshly coming off Independence, any level of formal education was highly valued. The older generation would easily get white-collar jobs with a high school diploma, something that would never happen in today’s society. Meanwhile, by the time we came around, going to university was a non-negotiable subject in many homes. It was not only the pathway to careers, it was also a source of pride in families.
It seems, however, that the younger generations have learnt what not to do by observing us. I have seen many members of the youth refusing wholeheartedly to join universities. They simply know that formal training will not aid them in the careers they have decided to follow. Moreover, the younger generations live in a much more digitised world, where learning is informal and mostly self-taught. The Internet is their school, their community, their work and their creative outlet.
I have seen (even experienced) old-timers forcing their ways on to the youngsters, and they find themselves met with a lot of resistance. Both generations could have different approaches to a solution, and both of them would work. Neither approach is wrong because it works best for the people it was intended for.
It is important for us to remember that life is not the same for everyone. Not every experience would feel the same. And while it is important to some parents to curate their children’s futures, remember that we live in different realities of the world today. We should not force children to live a life shaped by our very own experiences as they are experiencing the same world from a very different perspective. We need to encourage young people to live a life best suited for them in the era they live in.