As you know I’ve been a little snarky recently about our seemingly insatiable appetite for celebrity culture.
I recall that when I was a child, my friends and I aspired to be nurses, teachers, accountants, IT gurus and more. Many wanted to be musicians, artists, athletes. A few, like me, wanted to write, study the world… change it even. I’m sure that many young people still do and indeed I know many early teens who have already decided they want to be buyers, military officers, musicians and scientists. I recently met a very eloquent sixth form student who told me that she simply wanted to get a job and apply herself – she wasn’t sure what her chosen career would look like, but she’d make her start in business and work her way up.
We often underestimate the clarity of mind and intelligence that our young people have. They live in a different age now. A degree doesn’t automatically guarantee you a good job, indeed it doesn’t even mean you’ll get a job at all. An increasing number of young adults are coming to believe that actually leaving school with decent qualifications and securing a job is probably your best guarantee of long term financial security and success.
But I’m also painfully aware that for many of our young people, securing that first step on the ladder seems not just an impossible step, but an undesirable one. You only have to switch on the TV or open your newspaper to see many youngsters, particularly girls, seeking to make their fortune through quick fix opportunities like reality shows and Big Brother. The aim of many young girls is to attract a footballer, the pinnacle of success being not having to work, having an endless array of clothes and an ever decreasing waistline.
This is something which my husband and I discuss with great sadness. If we had a daughter, and at sixteen she declared that her objectives were to have a breast enlargement and bag herself a good looking boyfriend, I would be horrified. Frankly, I wouldn’t have a clue how to respond. I wouldn’t have any particular views on what she should want to do with her life, but I would certainly want any child of mine to have a goal which satisfied them, met their values and did them, and hopefully others, some level of good.
I’m hoping that they would ultimately want to do something which they could apply themselves to – and ultimately where that application would be rewarded. But in today’s world, do we even reward application and hard work?
I recall the most recent winner of the UK X Factor being vilified in the press for having previous experience as a singer. How dare she try to hone her skills before applying? What was she thinking, working the cruise ships and club scene in an attempt to make it big? It’s almost as if we would rather someone became successful by fluke, by luck, by a TV show, by some miracle almost – rather than through the years of hard work it must have taken the singer to get to that stage of skill. I find it quite a depressing thought.
So, in summary, I’m actually amazed that we are still managing to raise such level headed young adults as we clearly are. Perhaps the kids that I personally know are the minority – perhaps the majority are all running around having boob jobs and taking drugs but I hope not. I hope that there’s a significant number bucking the trend, taking the celebrity culture with a pinch of salt and seeing that type of “quick fix” achievement as what it is – often empty and frequently short lived.