In the era of mediatisation, with the rapid development of social media, the immense pressure on Gen Z to start making their own money is more and more prominent. Every day, in whichever social media platform we choose to enter, we see hundreds of teenagers with millions of followers dance to a hit song, film a DIY video, or make a sexy POV video, which later helps them financially support their families and eventually save for college. “Where have I gone wrong?” is a logical question that arises after seeing the success of such creators.
During my high school years, I had a classmate. You all know the type: the funniest guy in the class, always the one to argue with the teachers, neglecting all the group projects, and living on the edge between the deadlines and the lack of a secondary education diploma. We were quite good friends because, despite his reckless academic lifestyle, he was a good person and I was… well, a decent one. Now, however, we no longer keep in touch and the only thing I know about my former friend is that he makes 300 euros a week, which got me thinking: where have I gone wrong?
As Confucius once said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”
As teenagers – not young enough to carelessly demand pocket money from our guardians and not adult enough to have all the opportunities to be financially independent – the modern era is presumably one of the most stressful and overwhelming to live in. Besides the colossal academic workload and pressure of getting into a top league university, nowadays it is also common for adolescents to feel insecure due to the lack of income while many young people profit from their social media activity.
With the emergence of TikTok, hundreds of teenagers have turned their love for singing, dancing, acting, and humour into a profitable and, most importantly, enjoyable occupation. With this new type of work, young creators still tend to ‘leave the nest’ in favour of bigger cities; this time, however, it is to join or establish their own content house – not only as a means of networking but also as a way to make new friends and life experiences. The words ‘creator’ and ‘influencer’ are no longer laughed at; today, it is an innovative and creative job that implies multiple different responsibilities. However, the most fascinating thing about this type of occupation is that, unlike many other professions, it was first a hobby which then gradually grew into a paid job. And isn’t this all we are looking for in this life?
A great opportunity to seize… Right?
It is truly admirable that our peers have the opportunity to do what they are inspired by, be it fashion, music, vlogging, or traveling – the aspects of life that only a few years ago were difficult fields to profit from. However, seeing those bright individuals making money at such a young age puts a great deal of pressure on those teenagers who chose to go about life in a conventional way. When seeing that the opportunity to profit off ‘goofing around’ arose, it is no surprise that we want to take it on here and now. In the current atmosphere, a 9-to-5 job no longer sounds like hope but an apprehension, traditional office work is considered to be the last resort. The common fear of the corporate wheel and modern-day slavery in the form of a faceless clerk job is evident on popular social media: teenagers film videos about rude receptionists, phone operators, and cliché managers, thus, hiding the general distaste to dominant work ethic behind limericks and parodies.
Nevertheless, it would be careless to call it ‘overthinking’ and assume that only few of us are constantly feeling stressed and anxious about independent income.
Surely, not all young people are experiencing the pressure of a new social reality where kids and teenagers earn more money than a regular job could ever allow them to. Nevertheless, it would be careless to call it ‘overthinking’ and assume that only few of us are constantly feeling stressed and anxious about independent income. Your mind is constantly filled with questions and doubts: What do I do? Where do I start? How do I make my own money without work experience? But what if I don’t know what I want to do yet? In the end, you don’t see the point in fighting anymore and eventually you let this abyss of misery and desperation swallow you alive until there is nothing but darkness…
Light at the end of the tunnel
However (and yes, there is a ‘however’, do not give up on me yet), in reality, there are millions of us. Millions of those, who believe that we just uselessly take up space on this planet without making any contribution and selfishly sitting on our guardians’ necks; those whose main occupation and the highlight of the day is watching Netflix in the loneliness of their own room; those who mindlessly scroll through TikTok in hopes of some kind of entertainment (and I am saying this with the warmest feelings towards TikTok platform). Bear with me, I am going somewhere.
What I am trying to impart is that successful young people we see on social media are solitary instances, and the mere fact that you see them so often on your page is just a sign that you are trying to surround yourself with purposeful individuals (or a sign of smart social media algorithms, but I will stick with my first option because it makes me feel a little bit better about myself).
It is okay. I promise. Do not pressure yourself into something you will not be able to enjoy doing every day just for the sake of practicality and convenience. You are not irrelevant, you are not a burden, and you most certainly are not late. These, of course, are just banal statements, but at the end of the day, it is the banal things that turn out to convey the very truth.
Cover: Tim Goedhart