I was researching for a paper the other day and came across a statistic which said that teenagers in Hong Kong are the most depressed out of Asia. It kind of reminds me of a lot of people around my age that I've met in the past few months: people who moan on and on about how tiring their job is, how shitty the economy is, how nothing really gives them any joy (guilty of all of the above). Why are people in Gen Y such angsty Prozalium -popping pansies? In all seriousness, I do feel that in general, this generation is more prone to stressing themselves out to crippling levels only to be left unsatisfied with themselves. Sure, most people manage to hold it in most of the time but even when they talk about mundane things, you can sometimes sense deep unhappiness with the way their life is.
I think a lot of this actually comes down to social media/technology, which has come to mean a non-stop stream of casual stalking throughout the day. Keeping up with friends’ lives is pretty harmless on the surface, but we’re subconsciously comparing ourselves to other people constantly. People who tend to post a lot about their lives are usually the happier, prettier, and more confident ones. Which brings up thoughts like: “why am I not as skinny?” “why am I not travelling to exotic places?” “why can’t I have a highly successful career?” or “why can’t I afford that?”
Even though we might not be actively thinking those things, it’s inevitable for some of these thoughts to pop up when you’re out shopping, got rejected from a job application, or a spending Saturday night bleaching the clay bits between your unsalvageable bathroom tiles (they were gross). At times, social media just seems like an ongoing race that doesn't actually have an endpoint. For instance, why do I compulsively connect with people on LinkedIn? Is this guy who runs a crop circles making company called Alienz R Real really someone I want to work for? People from previous generations only found out about their friends’ lives when they gossiped over the phone or actually interact with them in person. It doesn't have a constant presence in their lives.
Our expectations about life are way too high, which is only made worse by the fact that there's insane competition for every little thing and the economy is an asshole. Instead of just trying to make a living and spending the rest of the time trying to enjoy life, ours are filled with unfulfilled dreams, fuelled by what modern society tells us we need. We need to be haul ass to the gym, eat nasty healthy food, have functional relationships with family, lover, co-workers and most importantly a career that pays for manicures, boozy holidays, Gucci cuff links, and overpriced bras that defeats the entire purpose of lingerie because it makes your nipples as visible as a pyramid in the desert. Even if these things might not be what we actually want, on some level, we feel inadequate for not having them. And when we have those things, we unfailingly get bored and feel unsatisfied again within 5 minutes and look for the next thing that we 'need'.
And I think that this is also true for non-material things. We feel like we have to make a contribution in order to legitimise our lives. We need to change the world or else we don’t constitute as successful people. I think that younger people are especially vulnerable to these thoughts so, in a way, teenagers these days are getting their dreams of being successful individuals completely shot down even before they get a chance to find out who they are. Although I don’t want to say that everyone in Gen Y have the same kind of struggles, since some have more important things to deal with like famine, poverty, being recruited as child soldier, etc. But I do believe that for those in the developed world, it’s quite easy to fall into this trap.
I’ve said ‘we’ a lot in this post. But do you guys feel the same way? What is the remedy for this if there even is one? Is this blog fuelling the kind of thing I'm talking about? Let's hope not.