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Fast Forwarding the Aging of the Youth
Social media platforms, the undying memory of the internet, and constant gamesmanship between peers have created a culture in which the youth must grow up both quickly and at a much younger age.
Why it’s Important?
Gamesmanship is the art or practice of using tactical manoeuvres to further one’s aims or better one’s position in the world. This has until recently only described business or sporting decisions, but the youth of today now engage in these practices so often that it is slowly becoming second nature.
An example of the type of competition Facebook-friends might engage in is friend-count, and on LinkedIn: network-reach, and on Twitter: number of followers. When you’re young this is simply a number to brag about, but young adults use these numbers to rate peers on their people-skills, their ambitions and their general likeability. This is important to understand because the pressure to “improve one’s rating” is enormous. A contributing factor to this is that we’re now so used to living in a gamified world (see gamification). Everything must be a competition in order to be fun and have purpose. The result that stress levels for students are high therefore comes as no surprise.
Another example of how competitive social platforms have become, is the almost mandatory space to detail one’s internships and work experience on one’s profile. Young adults seem to care more about the number of places worked at than the amount of time spent at each place, and HR departments seem quite aware of this – internship-hopping is not seen as disloyalty at all; it seems in fact to portray ambition, flexibility and desire. The younger one is able to start collecting names to put on that space, the more of an advantage one can create.
Thus social media has created the perfect platform for peers to flaunt qualifications and education. Of course, not only has social media allowed the youths themselves to monitor and compete against each other, but it has also afforded employers the opportunity to accurately assess an individual’s character traits and part of their personality, due to the infallible – and eternal – memory of the internet.
What’s the butterfly effect?
This has led to three developments. Firstly, the youth grow up quickly. They have to. They interact on platforms used by adults and are thus expected to act appropriately. Over half of Facebook’s users are under the age of 24 , which means that there is an entire generation of potential-employees desperately trying to signal to the prospective market.
Secondly, there is huge pressure to perform better than others through this gamesmanship within one’s own friendship and peer circles. Although sometimes beneficial (for example academic competition helps motivate one another), it can be taken too far, and companies ought to offer more job security to young employees who come in prepared to fight for their position from day one.
Thirdly, the youth are forced from a very early age to take full responsibility for their actions and their good reputation, because everything is traceable and integrated. It is increasingly difficult to separate from one’s online presence, and thus companies are currently duly concerned about the online following their future employees may have generated. The younger a student realizes this, the earlier the tweets begin to change.
The pioneers and the global hotspots
There are more youth in the world today than we’ve ever had before, and they are found primarily in developing countries. Globalisation has led to rather challenging conditions for these young adults to grow up in, despite the various advantages it has brought. (Rachel Nugent)
Not only do we need to be aware of the hugely competitive environment prospective employees have been exposed to, but companies need to realise that the generation they’re looking to employ is savvy at ladder-climbing and ready to contend for anything.
By: Benjamin Shaw
Benjamin is a broad-thinker, fast learner and passionate trend spotter.
He particularly loves reading about the integration of technology into society, and the role that entrepreneurs have to play in new South Africa.
Image credit: Gallo Images/ Getty Images