Phil Knott

Culture

our lazy, faithful generation

August 16, 2019
82 Picks

When I was young, I was inundated with programs that reminded me, Work Is King. Television shows like Driven and Made not only centered some ultimate moment of superstardom as the pinnacle of life being, they reinforced the idea that it all took a lot of work.

All these programs had the same Cinderella narrative that we were finely tuned to love as children: Through toil and sacrifice we’ll be able to reach glory. Not only will the moment of your life following your sweating and bleeding be glorious, it will also be magical. Once we get to the age where fairytales don’t quite stir our spirit as they once did, there are other narratives that push the idea that somehow hard work, extreme pushes of effort, and sacrifice are in the DNA of success. That is the cost of experiencing magic, we are told.

For my generations — Millennials and Generation Z — a fundamental blip has appeared on this fantastical matrix. We’ve seen this to not only be untrue in ways that dash dreams of superstardom, but in ways that have destroyed lives and beliefs around the future. I remember when the economy tumbled and we entered The Great Recession in the dying embers of the Bush administration; I was graduating from high school at the time. Hurricane Katrina had already affected the region, and homes were being foreclosed upon in rapid rates. I was surrounded by friends who were attempting to figure out college, and becoming aware of the debt they were about to acquire as they applied.

We still believe that if we were to persevere, sweat this out, and sacrifice enough, our big dreams come true. There was no reason not to think like this. We’d seen this story before: we were going to be challenged, but we’d work hard, sacrifice joy and peace, and because we were destined — due to our life-long obedience to the formula — to experience success. 

The problem was that there was no dream careers or fairy grandmothers once we bled, sacrificed, and acquired debt. There was only uncertainty and exploitative jobs willing to tap, squeeze and dry young ambition for the maintenance of old money. The myths that MTV and Disney once sold us were proven to be just that. It became clear — for some consciously and others subconsciously — that these ideas around work, effort, and success were a white supremacist capitalist narrative that left people docile, not empowered. If the answer to poverty is to simply work harder, where will we have the time to rest, reflect, and think of something better?

My generation is lazy — and this makes me proud. We lay in bed too long. We ignore phone calls and requests — we ghost jobs that attempt to seduce us with magic, instead of care. Because it is a generation comprised of people who are disillusioned. It’s difficult to intimidate many of us by taking something away, because we’ve never been given it in the first place. 

And for some of us, which is especially exciting, it has made us relax more on that thing we call Faith. Hence, our work’s purpose is not to be “made” or “driven,” but to find peace and have Faith, and simply to be created. If there is anything magical about being part of a generation that was destroyed by the myth of labor’s rewards, it is this.

Related