Burn, Youth

When I began driving for Uber last year, I was more or less still a capitalist and willing to defend the free market. I felt like I could more or less identify as a conservative, especially because they are the more religious party, or so I’ve thought. Now, I don’t know about either of these points. The more driving I did, the more I was witnessing how tragic the current world is.

We do have overt tragedies like people dying in car accidents, homelessness, stars overdosing or committing suicide, and things that you are likely to hear or read about over the course of every day for the rest of your life. But there are tragedies slightly more subtle. Many of them are missed by those who haven’t watched out for them, the young.

One of the saddest things I’ve come to realize is that young people flock to the big city because they believe it’s a hub of opportunity, like-minded progressive-thinking liberals (tolerant and open-minded the whole lot of them), constant excitement and thrills, and even fun people to date. They enter the city seeking escape from the mundane and monotonous life outside the city, in the country. They go to cities for college, and are inundated in a culture rather unlike anything they’ve known prior.

They go to big cities expecting a sort of Eden, a utopia. But it isn’t one. There’s more tragedies than one has the time to list in the cities. Many don’t realize that until they’ve lived in one and fought it for a while. Then they move back or just stay and do their best to survive. Witnessing this has made me all genres of disillusioned yet again, and contemptuous of capitalism more than anything.

It’s strange that such an economic system should be touted as essentially republican, although one term to aptly describe capitalism is economic liberalism. Strange too that it’s managed to hoodwink so many young liberals who run from their wayward, backwards-thinking relatives and towns, and seek asylum from the drab in the sparkly, shiny, business-laden cityscape where, in LA for instance, banks own buildings that tower over the homeless, significant portions of multiple regions are simultaneously being gentrified by people with “I’m with Her” bumper stickers, thereby forcing poor people to coalesce somewhere else and probably get further removed from the very opportunities other, less poor people sought. And so on. The cities are not what the young, bright-eyed liberals think, but they’ve never been. The only thing is that advertisements and a culture of consumerism have become ubiquitous. The idea that cities provide something for everyone, and more than enough to satisfy, is an idea being sold. It’s an idea that’s marketed, meaning it’s supposed to grab any and everyone. So far, it looks like it’s mostly worked.

The most vulnerable, the people most likely to be captured by such an idea, are the very ones who should be protected from this kind of sanguine openness. They are the ones that should be spending their youth figuring out how to grow old, a lesson I myself, born and raised in LA, learned late. They should not be looking for the newest thrills and spending most of their time working whatever job they can find. I haven’t looked up turnover rates for jobs, but I know they have to be higher than ever or nearly as high. So many of the people I talk to mention transitioning between jobs or careers.

Is that the way we should be spending our most energetic years? Absolutely not, but at the same time, these very people are encouraging a culture which leaves that as the only option for most people — indeed for people who aren’t even young and have to become a glib shell of a human being desperate for any opportunity, working equally hard to make money and fill their free time with fun.

And the consequence isn’t a prolonged youth. The reality will be something much more along these lines, and it won’t just be the whites.

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