Published on GoThinkBig on 3/1/14As I write this, I’m eating chocolate with no intention of going to the gym, learning the clarinet or being more careful with money. New Year’s Resolutions? Pff. Nothing more than a list of things you don’t like about yourself, and I make that list any old Wednesday.
Forget the resolutions. You’re all gorgeous, slim and ever so clever with your cash. That Wii you bought sometime last year was a great idea, and I’m sure you’ll use it any day now.
We don’t need resolutions. We need revolutions.
By ‘we’, I mean this “shafted generation” the media and our parents keep banging on about. Writing as How to Be Jobless, I thought constantly about the generation who are marked to be poorer than our parents – and because of the obesity epidemic, die before them too. History students studying our newspapers will conclude we’re all fat, jobless and poor.
But then I started a traineeship, and the distinction between how things were and how things are started walloping me in the face. The folks at the Guardian, in their infinite niceness (seriously, they’re lovely, it’s like going to work with friends you can’t hug), keep arranging informal meetings with people who have the job I want, so they can pass on their advice. Unfortunately, as they got their job ten or so years ago, their advice is utterly useless. And they know it.
“Hi, lovely to meet you, but my advice will be utterly useless.” (Told you)
“Oh no no, I’m sure it won’t be…how did you get in to writing features?”
“Um.” Her face twisted into a look of guilt, with a liberal splash of pity. “Um. Well. I started off doing two weeks’ work experience…and they offered me a job.”
My jaw dislocated. I didn’t bother resetting it.
“Yeah…it doesn’t work like that anymore. Sorry.”
That’s fine. Congrats on the dream job after two weeks work experience. I’ve done 13 weeks work experience, a three month internship, a degree, a Masters, free writing and photography for about 15 publications, paid work for another ten, four column series, guest editing, video production, and the occasional funny for the Guardian – and my big break so far is a one-year scheme in which many fail to see the distinction between me and an intern. Quite funny, really. Lol-ing, I am, trying to get into this utterly impenetrable business – and by ‘business’ I don’t mean journalism. I mean work.
Enough, already. Things have to get better. Sod your waistline, let’s get serious, because 2013 was a horror show. Here are the two MASSIVE revolutions we need in 2014 to escape permanent career damage:
Why isn’t the foot-stamping of a million unemployed young people causing an earthquake? Because it’s not collective. We’re foot-stamping on our own time, when we should be getting together with megaphones shouting “One…two…three…STAMP!” and watching as the Houses of Parliament literally and figuratively shudder.
Why haven’t we? Because unlike civil rights, looking for work isn’t a collective endeavour: it’s competitive. All the career advice is designed to distance yourself from the people going through the very same thing – “how to stand out”, “how to rise above the competition”, “how to look good on your billboard CV”.
We’re divided, which has made it that much easier to conquer us – to cut benefits unless we’re “earning” despite the lack of jobs, or “learning” despite the whacking up of tuition fees.
My first instinct was to ignore the crisis, and hope I would be one of the lucky ones and land a job, where I’d sit under at my desk and pretend everything is fine with the world.
It didn’t take long to work out: no one is fine. We’re all in our categories, “unemployed and desperate for work” or “overworked and desperate for help”. In both the employed and unemployed worlds, thumb-twiddling has been replaced by garment-rending. The lucky ones who land a job are still working in a crisis; they won’t be paid as much, or get a promotion, or be expected to do less than five people’s work. We are ALL in crisis. We should ALL be fighting.
This “us and them” thing between the generations has got to stop. And not just because they’re winning, or because their achy knees make them an easy target. It’s got to stop because they’re being screwed too. Honestly, they are.
Come on boomers, this affects you too, and we need you on side because apparently, your votes carry much more weight than ours. How does it affect you? Here are three reasons boomers need to stand with us when we DEMAND this situation gets sorted out:
1) Every blow to the younger generation increases the likelihood of boomers footing the bill. No jobs for young people? No money for young people. Oh, and no benefits (thanks David Cameron, you boiled egg-faced tit, I hope someone poaches you with dill). Oh, and rising rents to boot. Enter the Boomerangers, a generation of adult children moving back into YOUR house.
The babyboomers, whom we have been told, repeatedly, to envy, are the first to have to look after the generations either side of them. Their parents need care as they’re being ravaged by old age, and we need care because our degrees didn’t come with an affordable roof, as promised. Bloody smallprint.
2) Through no fault of their own, boomers have failed as parents. Aren’t you furious, boomers? You did everything right and your kids are STILL faced with joblessness, or a career ascension so slow and internship-ridden they may never have a stable income, or a house.
Was it your aim to raise a jobless generation who, according to WHO, are a public health time bomb? Of course not. The most fundamental aim of parenting is make sure your kid will be ok in the world. Well, we’re not ok, and that’s not our fault. It’s not yours either.
3) If you don’t step up, we WILL withhold grandchildren. That’s right. You have the votes, we have the working reproductive organs.
So, what’s it gonna be?