The Big Issue : Edition 484
THE BIG ISSUE 15 – 28 MAY 2015 13 I don’t actually like them, of course. My affection for the young is strategic – developed solely to annoy my peers who have started saying things like “back in my day” and “it’s all their fault”. With every problem people of my age experience, they find a youngster to blame. For example, I have heard persons of my vintage blame the perceived laziness of the young for their own conditions at work. “They just don’t know reality with their hashtags and their selfies,” they say, perceiving that younger people in their workplaces are directly responsible for any extra work required. That these old whiners are, in fact, working harder may be in doubt. Perhaps they’ve developed unhealthy midlife drinking habits and now struggle with hangovers rather than difficult working conditions. They may just be so exhausted by the rigours of parenthood or the physical inflexibility produced by binge-watching House of Cards. Then again, they indeed may be working harder: OECD data suggests people are working longer hours than they have for decades. So, it’s likely that the people grizzling about labour conditions are, in fact, forced to spend more time at work. What is not likely, however, is that the source of all that painful overtime is young people. This, you old idiot, is a market trend. You are not spending more time at work because some youngster is submitting self-portraits to Instagram, but because the ultra-efficiency demanded by the publicly listed companies, for which many of you work, demand it. If you want to lay the blame with a group of people, then blame the board. Blame the KPIs demanded by blokes you’ll never meet. Don’t blame the ‘entitlement’ of young people. Of course it’s true that the younger generation seems very full of self- esteem. My generation, loosely called ‘X’, are very good at self-loathing and can’t quite understand why their juniors seem not to share this internal disdain. And, yes, it does seem ridiculous that these people, nurtured in an era of Every Child Wins a Prize and no red ink on their homework, seem so very happy to exist. I, too, want to shake them at times and say, “Hey, life is utter pants!” The thing is, though, these youngsters feel that more keenly and materially than we ever did. The notion that ‘young people just don’t understand how hard we had it’ is completely misguided. They’re looking, in this perverse housing market, down the barrel of living with their parents until they’re 60 and competing for a handful of poorly paid jobs doled out by grumpy old bastards like me. In a climate so hostile to their survival, that young people remain so unusually upbeat should be more impressive than irritating. I am thinking of opening an Instagram account while saying “YOLO” in the hope that it will give me some of their buoyancy. And I’m thinking of greeting every young person I meet with the admission: “Things were so much easier in my day!” “My affection for the young is strategic – developed solely to annoy my peers who have started saying things like ‘back in my day’...” RAZER Generation Vexed PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND FOR A VARIETY of reasons and within a range of unhealthy aggression, I have always disliked the young. Even as a young person myself I disliked my peers’ optimism, their easy self-interest and, of course, their lovely skin. I can’t really justify my disdain for an age-range, because it’s completely irrational. It’s a ludicrous flaw of intolerance that lies squarely within my miserable self. Lately, however, I have found the cure for this fault. I may still dislike the cheer of the young, but this dislike has been eclipsed by one for my age-mates. People my age never shut up about the faults of the newer generation, and it’s for this reason I have elected to start liking those annoying millennials. » Helen Razer (@HelenRazer) consistently meets her KPIs. And no one has higher Key Peevishness Indicators.