This is a response to Caroline Mutoko’s article Generation Y and the Quarter Life Crisis from The Star, dated Sunday 01 April 2012:23:56.
I am a young Kenyan in the secernated Generation Y. First and foremost, I appreciate your writing of this specific article. I got the chance to read it two weeks ago thanks to the sharing of information on social networking sites. Thankyou Mark Zuckerberg. I have read it severally since then and trust me, it has been a long while since we got this side of the perspective expressed. Since reading the article, I have wanted to put down a response in regard to the post. With no further detain, below is my collective opinion:
Most of Generation Y progeny have been raised by the traditional parent or guardian. Before I proceed, I would like to mention that ‘traditional’ in this context is in no way a bad thing. Traditional in most cases has brought about rooted communities, defined cultural systems and a decent moral order. The traditional parent and/or guardian refers to the ‘listen a lot and voice your opinion not as often’. My parents and close relatives have raised my siblings and I from that light.
I speak from experience when I say that from this traditional upbringing, I am in most occurences obedient, respectful and fearful to my elders. I happen to do this mostly by impulse compared to it being a willing self initiated action. Most of my elders, lecturers and even fellow youth find that really commendable, but if you have collected this, you will notice one major error. I hardly do all these morally correct deeds by will but more by impulse. This is because I was more or less trained to be polite, respectful, obedient etcetera without having being cultivated the fact that I should want to do these things. A genuine example of how this directly impacts my day-to-day life:
Lecturer: What’s your answer for the cause of…
Me : Answer A
Lecturer: That’s not what I got.
Me : Alright… Sorry, I will correct it.
Lecturer: No, what’s your opinion?
Me : Uh… It’s alright. I will correct my result.
This happened in my Intercultural Communication class some semesters ago. The question was to bring about direct/indirect opinion-motivated answers from whatever front. I, on the other hand, remembered not to ‘question older people’. I thought that apologizing for my wrong answer and not giving my opinion would show that I am a respectful person. What I’m trying to say is that this morals that I have are purely based on fear. Fearing to inquire from our elders, debate with our leaders. Karl Augustus Menninger said that fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out. So for anyone who has this kind of fear, it is alright. Go on and debate, retort and ask respectfully. I am working on it
This is just the beginning. It is a domino effect. A domino effect in that, because of this fear, our youth is currently getting used to inaction as some sort of defense mechanism. Most of our youth have nothing to fight for or look forward to. Remember the then usual and sometimes redundant, “I want to become… when I grow up?”. I recently got this response when I inquired from a fellow schoolmate.
“I wanted to become a pilot but now it’s a cliche. A doctor too, but they aren’t paid as well as I thought they would. I wanted to be an artist but now they are everywhere.” Is it the lack of interest or fear of working hard. Has lazying around become a hobby? Or is it because you can fill it out on your Facebook likes, does it mean we can actually fix it in our hobbies list?
We can clearly see so much from just using a picture of revellers. The youth know very well that high intake of drugs and alcohol will lead to sickly lives, or no life at all. We had two to four days of guidance and couselling in high school, textbooks with sickly people caused from this and even more recently health and awareness clubs and courses introduced in the education system. They know that too much partying leads to a dormant lifestyle. They know all these but they are still consuming this lifestyle in abundance. Why? Most of them have nothing to fight for.
The cliched ignorant line of “If the world ends today, I will have lived my life” is still brushing our youth’s mouths. Wait! What exactly is ‘living life’? Are we getting our priorities twisted? Yaani, it’s alright if the world ended without having necessarily impacted change even in your household, forget the world! Mind you, it is not like we have solved all the problems in the world so as not to have something to fight for. The problems are in abundance but our youth can still exude & blurt out such ignorance. Sad, isn’t it?
Secondly, there is this bunch in the infamous Generation Y that has grown watching TV and playing video & virtual games. I am sadly in that bunch, so there are some behaviors that I have picked up that are very blunt and with lack of words, almost hopeless. This bunch likes television and tech savvy gadgets a lot. Too much that it has become an addiction.
When I turned 16 some few years ago (yes, I am pretty young), I did not want to go to school at all because I wanted to watch TV. When I came back from school, I would switch on the TV and almost forget to do simple and important things like have a conversation with my parents or finish my food. If I was not on the TV, (only because of lack of electricity) I was on my cellphone, checking my Facebook and putting up different facades with strangers like they were my best friends. I hardly left the house unless I was sent for something from the shop. I did not want to go to church with the family at all! In church, I would steal glances on my Facebook notifications because my father did not condone technological nonsense in church.
“Does the Bible App talk, give experiences etcetera?”
“No.” What went through my mind, “Well, not yet.”
If I said anything close to that, I would have my b’hind handed to me!
My point is, most of our young people cannot hold a normal human conversation. When I turned 17, I had a stutter. I never had a stutter before then. It always came about when I was forced (did you see that?) to have a continuous conversation. I had forgotten how to have a normal conversation. I stuttered because I never found a word to explain something in my brain. Simple words like ‘go’, ‘confuse’, ‘arrive’ etc. I then adapted somewhat a mechanism to explain such simple words by using my hands. When my mother realized that my communication skills were diminishing, she got me to reading a lot of books. I mean a lot of books! She hardly let me watch television using her question,
“Ulimaliza hile kitabu?”. I walked to my room and finished reading the books. It was the same period of time that I was doing my High School Finals. It wasn’t that celebratory when she saw that I aced my language exams. I currently collect books and buy a lot of books from the streets and Nairobi markets.
I snootily digressed, but my point is most of our youth are depending on Hiphop and rap music for their vocabulary in their conversations. Talking to elders is not just hard but a brain workout! If our young people cannot talk, who will represent us in the Parliament and political forums? Who will pass on informative information to our younger people? We cannot even tell our parents and/or guardians our problems! They can hardly understand even if they tried. Simple question: when was the last time you heard a 19-30 year old person speak in good Swahili (our now rumoured National language) for just a short period of time? My sentiments exactly.
To end this long letter, I will give you my realistic theory of what our Generation is actually leading to:
It seems like a rough infographic but it is just sad that we are losing lives to things we can resolve if we just sit down and talk about what we are consuming. Sweating the simple stuff? No. We are ignoring the simple stuff.
1,458 words later, thankyou for reading. Your feedback and reaction will be appreciated.
Have a lovely day,