Alcohol consumption has been increasing steadily for the last 10 years. Cannabis use is at an all-time high. Opioids have been declared a national emergency. Entire sub-cultures of youth and young adults are finding fewer and fewer reasons to leave the house. It’s like we’re all trying to escape from all this… sucking.
Do well in school. Work hard. Be nice to others. Pretty common advice for most of us growing up. We were supposed to do well in school so that we could learn the skills necessary to earn a good income. We were to work hard because the more effort we put in, the greater the reward. We should be nice to others because it’s important that we all get along.
So what happens when you do well in school but struggle to find a job when you graduate? And what about those who had to take out student loans? What happens when you realize that you’re not the one being rewarded for your hard work? And what happens when you start to feel like the world has genuinely given up on getting along with one another?
We all hallucinate our own reality and it is by that mechanism that we can choose to exist in a reality where we don’t feel the weight of these issues. Some escape to a digital reality, some to an altered state, but the objective is still the same – being there is better than being here.
Why not just step your game up and go take what the world owes you? Just make sure you out-perform your peers and you’ll get that top 1% lifestyle that you’ve always wanted. And once you get there, you’ll know that you’ve made it and that you’re truly different than the other 99%. That’s what a younger me would’ve said. To the victor go the spoils, so just make sure you win. Modern-day cannibalism at its finest.
The problem with the ‘try harder’ approach is that it only works in a zero-sum scenario. If a few people put in more effort while everyone else is doing the same as they were, those who are putting in more effort are likely to receive more rewards. If everyone puts in more effort, relatively speaking, the effort levels all remain the same. Effectively, if we all try hard, we all stay exactly where we are.
So being a grown-up is nothing like what we were told. Effort is no longer the difference between being rich and poor. Jobs are disappearing to automation at an increasing rate. The cost of living is climbing faster than income. Debt has replaced savings. Home ownership and a family are now an irresponsible financial decision for most. And when we look to our leaders and our policy makers in the hopes of change, we see one of the most embarrassing breakdowns of governance in the modern age.
We can’t seem to get to where we want to go. The advice we were given did not hold up. We’re being told it’s because we’re lazy. We’re being told that we’re the problem. It just doesn’t make sense…
But we rise.
Our hope that the human condition will prevail remains in tact. While you look to divide, we look to connect. Where you seek control, we seek freedom. Where you look to horde, we look to share. Where you look to keep secrets, we look to expose the truth. While you’ve looked to maintain the status quo, we look to challenge it. And where you fear the future, we embrace it.
We’re just trying to be patient, waiting for our turn. We see you trying to drag this out though. I recommend against it. It’s not a fight you’ll win.