Early this January, the Pew Research Center released data from a survey it had conducted, and it had some disturbing results. The survey was on our generation (people 18 to 25 years old: “Generation Y,” “Generation Next,” whatever you want to call it) and our priorities, aspirations, and our outlook on life. One of the more interesting findings was that our goals apparently revolve around two things: being rich, and being famous.
Eighty-one percent of the respondents of survey said being rich was either their first or second most important goal in life. Fifty-one percent said the same about fame. The sad thing is, fame and fortune beat out goals like helping people who need help, being leaders in the community, and becoming more spiritual.
I thought maybe our generation would be a little less shallow than others, but I guess I’m just naive. Not only is this attitude shallow and lacking any sort of important inner meaning, it’s just not smart. If people are in fact trying to obtain any sort of happiness, being rich and famous doesn’t seem to be the best way to do it.
There are tons of examples to back up this point. As much as I try to avoid any sort of celebrity news, I can’t help but notice the ridiculous amounts of celebrities who have drug and alcohol problems. Eddie Van Halen, Britney Spears, Keith Urban, Lindsay Lohan, Robin Williams, and Mel Gibson are just of few of the celebrities who have had to go into drug and alcohol rehab over the past year.
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say these rich and famous people aren’t really happy.
And that’s not even mentioning the countless numbers of drug overdoses and suicides that make headlines from time to time, including recently the case of the late Anna Nicole Smith.
Plus there are the divorces and break-ups, followed by new relationships that only end up in more break-ups and divorces, and so on, and so on, and so on.
I guess it’s not too surprising these sorts of things happen, though. I mean, I know there is no way I could handle the paparazzi and the total lack of privacy that comes with being a celebrity. But more importantly, I don’t think I could handle being worshipped and idolized by people who don’t even know the real me.
So why is this fate the goal of our generation? (And considering that almost half of people between the ages of 18 to 22 binge drink or abuse prescription or illegal drugs, I have to say we are doing a pretty good job of achieving these ends.) Maybe it’s because our parents did a bad job of raising us; maybe the decline in people attending church is the answer; or maybe we just have life way too easy.
No matter the reason, I hope we as a generation can snap out of this existentialist funk and pursue some more meaningful goals than a life of drugs, failed relationships, and rehab.
Andy Nicewicz is a senior political science major. His column appears every Monday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.