Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If they only had but a single face

That way I could slap them all at once.

On the one hand you have the liberal arts majors who are shocked, shocked to learn that their degrees are, for all intents and purposes, worthless in the current job market. They're unemployed, underemployed, and feeling depressed. I've been there, I know. And on the other hand you have fat and happy old farts tut tutting about how the kids are lazy entitled whiners who shouldn't have wasted all of that time and money pursuing their BA in Women's Studies at Brown. I'm happy you're here to tell us these things Mr. Hercules Rockefeller. I don't suppose you're hiring?

It's a low blow I admit, but whenever old people start going on about how spoiled the kids are I always point out, "You're the ones who raised us pal." Put yourself in a twenty or thirty something's shoes. When we were growing up, we were told virtually from birth that we had to go to college. Parents, teachers, counselors, trusted authority figures, the message was always and everywhere the same: "You must go to college or else you will be a loser who flips burgers at McDonalds for the rest of your life." Vocational schools were for the dumb kids. Only retards took shop. You had to go to college or you would be permanently locked out the middle class. They may not have explicitly said so, but the underlying message beneath all of this was that a college degree was your ticket to a living wage before you had a chance to even frame it on the wall of your corner office.

Fast forward to the Great Recession and these same authority figures damn the kids for being too lazy to take a job at McDonalds. It's a good thing the overclass thought ahead and imported millions of unskilled foreign laborers to combat the inexplicable waves of sloth and disability.

Tom Friedman helpfully suggests creating a job. I tried inventing a "Marry a rich real estate heiress and write silly nonsense for the New York Times" job but alas, there's currently a glut in that market.

I have an objectively useless degree but I didn't go into debt to earn it, so I'm much better off than many of these poor kids who bought the promises of their elders. We were raised to play it safe. I think the kids have every right to be angry. But you can't let that anger consume you. Yes, our elders sold us a pig in a poke but the world is a vale of tears and all that. They didn't set out to deceive us with malicious intent. Advice that was good in their youth just isn't necessarily good advice today. The world's a different place now. Accept that the world doesn't work the way they said it did, and adjust yourself accordingly. Take the Red Pill.

What wisdom does the Red Pill offer us for the problem of unemployment? A lower standard of living might be uncomfortable but we can survive it. The greater problem caused by chronic unemployment is the spiritual toll it takes. We think in terms of worldly success. We compare ourselves to our peers. If we fall short, we begin to think of ourselves as less than human. As not fully men. Remember your mission in life. Don't have a mission yet? Decide on one. If you need help figuring it out, try this: get out a blank sheet of paper or a new Word document and write at the top THINGS I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. Start knocking out ideas, no matter how outlandish or unlikely. When you reach one that emotionally moves you in some way, put it in bold because you may have a winner. Now, once you've decided on a mission, ask yourself if college is really necessary to pursue it. If you can't provide a clear explanation of how you're going to go from Point A (college) to Point B (your goal) then you absolutely should not be taking on mortgage levels of debt to go to college.

Fake it until you make it. Think of yourself as already being the person you want to be and behavior will follow. You will struggle. You will suffer. You may toil for years in obscurity. But you'll feel better. If you're Catholic, offer it up as they used to say. Decide on a goal and pursue it. Mine, for example, is "Make a living by writing full time." That may be too broad but it has motivated me to take writing jobs wherever, whenever I can. Like any other skill, the more you do it the better at it you'll be. I'm fully aware, going into it, that earning money through writing means poverty for the first few years. Possibly forever. But just deciding on that goal and making progress made me feel immensely better as opposed to waiting for some HR chick with a useless degree to deign to give me a call back. Go and do likewise pal.

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