It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young person in possession of a college education must be in want of a job. Jane Austen said that, or something like that. But Ms. Austen’s quip about men wanting wives was delivered tongue-in-cheek, and as a young(ish) person with a recently acquired college education I can tell you that finding a job in one’s field of study is something that I want so badly that it hurts. So imagine my profound annoyance when I learned that my home province’s government seems to have decided that the best way to encourage young people to make something of themselves is to insult, patronize and generally belittle them.
The BC government has recently put rather a lot of money into an ad campaign featuring slogans such as “Hipster’ is not a real job.” Also on the list are gems like “Because marrying rich may not pan out” and “Oh, sure, you’ll definitely win the lottery.” The tone is sarcastic, the words are laced with contempt and the message is clear: Young people are lazy, stupid and blind to the realities of life. To make matters worse, these snide comments are showing up on university and college campuses, adding a note of high-pressure disapproval to an environment filled with people who are already wondering if they will be able to get a job once they graduate.
The campaign’s message only gets more garbled from there. Taking aim at university students because they don’t yet have jobs is low, but equating unemployment with a social demographic (other than a specific one referring to people who are unemployed) is completely nonsensical. Hipsters are people who chose to look a certain way, to listen to certain kinds of music. As with any other subculture, it contains ambitious people and lazy people. As with any other subculture, there isn’t much that can be inferred about its members other than a very general sense of the activities and fashions they’re likely to enjoy.
So, if we step back and look at this, we see the BC government falling into two classic blunders. First, they’re judging people by appearances. Someone is young? They dress in a unique and self-expressive way? They must be no-good, useless layabouts. By refusing to get to know its younger generations on their own terms, the BC government is turning away from its own future, alienating the people they are counting on to take their place someday.
Second, they’re making the same mistake that homophobes, misogynists and other closed-minded people make. They’re trying to use shame to force other people around to their way of thinking. By implying that we’re stupid enough to base our futures on winning the lottery, or that we’re mercenary enough to try to marry for money, or simply by making fun of our chosen subcultures, they are saying that what we are is worthless. That we are not good enough. That we must conform or we will be utterly disregarded.
Well, let me tell you this: The BC government’s ridiculous ad campaign is wrong about me, it’s wrong about you and it’s wrong about every struggling young person who hasn’t yet found their niche in the job market. Don’t let this disrespectful bullshit get you down. Be patient, keep working, and you will find success without compromising your individuality. I guarantee it.