As with my last blog post, I’d like to start by referencing a previously written article, if only to start the conversation “The Dark Side of Getting Into College,” written by Lauren Stiller Reikleen, takes a look at the colossal amount of pressure being placed on children to get into college. It should come to no one’s surprise that all of the practices, tutoring sessions, and extra-curricular activities are leading to highly stressed, anxious, and sleep-deprived kids.
This is not a problem that ends with a student’s acceptance into college either. I would argue this upbringing is one of the biggest underlying factors the generation of 20-30-somethings, most affected by the Great Recession, are now coping with.
When a large portion of someone’s life and identity is wrapped up in the concept of higher education, the result is two-fold: Certainly, it cultivates a generation of intellectually-minded individuals who appreciate art, culture and music, but it also breeds a generation that will find it harder to cope when they are unable to put their education to work — say, when an economy collapses in on itself due to greed and predatory lending practices.
What we have now is a new class of citizen. This class has been shaped and molded to become the new bourgeois, but has found limited employment opportunities within this social class, and instead, works in traditionally lower class, proletariat occupations. The result is the creation of the poorgeoisie. And the poorgeois are just as hard-working, motivated and intellectually minded as they ever were — but now, many of us are also more stressed and anxiety-ridden than ever.
The ability to put one’s mind and training to work became part of this generation’s identity. But, when the American Dream, the ultimate gauge of success in this country, is suddenly denied to millions; when the art, music, and culture we appreciate becomes unaffordable, a terrific tension is created. As a member of the poorgeois, I see two options: Bow down beneath the weight of this current existential crisis, or strike out and take back some level of autonomy. I for one choose the latter.
And I applaud those of the new class who have rejected their current situation as well. I applaud the new entrepreneurs, the cable-cutters and the DIYers. I applaud those who have returned to work the earth and those who have banded together to make it work.
Entrenched corporate interests have rewritten the rules. Well, so be it. But nothing says we can’t rewrite a few of our own.