"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: No Free Ride For Gen Z

Thursday, November 16, 2023

No Free Ride For Gen Z


I feel a bit sorry for Gen Z. Growing up at the beginning of the 21st century, they’ve never had it so good: a nice easy life where they’ve always had the net, 24/7 entertainment, podcasts, movies and TV shows, games and music galore, and the ability to talk to anyone in the world, for any reason, via social media.

Now, when their school days are over, Gen Z are having to leave the nest and go out into the world, only to discover they have to get some soul crushing job. To work forty long hours a week just to pay bills that never stop: rent, utilities, food and drink, cable, internet, tech, and a million other micro-charges we’re hit with every day…

Welcome to the Machine.

Recent reports shows that the most desired job amongst Gen Zs is Internet Influencer. Wannabe writers are probably in the best position to tackle the job because, as we know, everything starts with writing - every podcast, social media post, and even those ten second blasts on TikTok all have to be written down before anything else can happen.

What could be better and easier than being paid be to be yourself and, when you get enough followers (30,000 plus) you can endorse products for payment.

Sounds like easy money, right?

Not really. You should know that being an online personality means working harder than you ever thought possible. Constantly thinking about the posts you will put up every hour of the day. Advertising to gain fans and momentum. Most likely “paying” for enough followers to appeal to the people who will want you to promote things you wouldn’t normally have anything to do with.

The Influencers I speak to work very hard. They are driven by the possibility of wealth and fame but also trapped by having to remain in the limelight. They lead lives of poverty, compromise, and pain, in public, slaving to maintain an image that is usually at odds with their reality. Creating hi-tech content, writing, researching, networking, taking pictures, traveling, rustling up joint ventures with strange new people, working all hours…

    I see these debates people are having on TikTok about how the 9 to 5 work week is depressing and somehow inappropriate to modern life, I agree, Always have. The work system sucks and has done since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Of course working 40 hours a week is hard, pointless, and often soul-destroying. Yes, most of the days we spend at work are a waste of time, effort, and the earth’s resources.

    But CEOs and managers are on the other side of the debate. They want people to work longer hours - miles away from home - because they have to pay tax, contributions, and benefits for each employee. Why would they employ two people for twenty hours each when one person working double or triple the hours is cheaper?

    Yes, monotony and lack of motivation are massive problems in the workplace. Sure, the whole system needs rethinking and updating but to assume it will change because we don’t like it is absurdly naive.

    The world doesn’t work like that.

    Of course we all want to be writers, artists, actors, influencers, and other big stars but creating a monetized career from creativity is a challenge. And art is still a business.

    And business is about profit, the maximization of efficiency. Business does not owe its workers anything. If you don’t like the 9 to 5, you can always leave, which incidentally is apparently exactly what’s happening. The Western worker is retiring earlier, or never even entering the work marketplace at all because it’s just too hard. 

But the next time you want to better design your work/life balance, think on this.

Writers always have to work hard.

Writing success requires time, dedication, and commitment. No amount of short cuts, AI, or clever software will help you get around the fact that writing requires your time, dedication, and commitment as well as all the new funky tech. And insisting you only want to work for four hours a day will often lose you the gig.

Other, already successful writers, make it look easy but only if you ignore the work they put in. Every day, consistently. Overcoming obstacles like rejection, bad reviews, peer pressure, and yes, bills and responsibilities. Making choices about how they spend their time and how they earn their money, over and over.

It’s about focus.

Sometimes I think we’re too self-absorbed in our own time. Our sense of history is vague and our thoughts about the future are similarly unformed. We’re caught in the present day, looking for answers, guidance and more apps - trapped in a bubble of triviality and meaninglessness. 

Gen Z is right. 

Modern life has been pared-down to pure daily existence that leaves no room for personal fulfillment, purpose, and achievement. Nobody knows what life is about anymore because we’ve realized it’s not important to our existence. We just consume because we’re told that’s what we want.

But writers, surely, should want more. A lot more.

The pursuit of wisdom, for one thing, would be a good starting point.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy

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