Take a stroll through any school campus around the globe, and the stress that many of today’s young students experience on a day-to-day basis is palpable. Especially regarding the overall work ethic of modern youth, there is an expectation to do so much more starting at a rapidly declining age.
Then, take a look at today’s pop culture media: it might explain why career expectations for very young people, particularly students, are skyrocketing. Anxiety and feelings of lacking accomplishments have come to be social normality, and those feelings are taking a significant toll on how we view ourselves as relative to the world around us.
Virally spread across televisions, smartphones, computers, newspapers, and magazines are the faces of the freshest fleet of mega-ingénues, constantly shoved into blindingly hot media spotlights. Kylie Jenner, Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, Lorde, and Zendaya, to name a few, are all younger than 23 and yet they are all shiny new million-to-billionaires.
In an age where anyone can be granted fame on social media platforms like Instagram or YouTube, more rags-to-mega-riches stories are popping up every single day.
Teens and young adults who strike it rich and appeal to ample spenders can be set financially for their entire lives in a matter of a few months to years, beating out hundreds of thousands of their peers who attend an average four-year college for the chance to make a good living from their career path.
The Forbes’ 2018 edition of 30 Under 30 included a multitude of YouTube personalities, including Manny Gutierrez (MannyMUA on YouTube), Gigi Gorgeous, and other recognizable names. As a general public, we saw their rises to fame from relatively unknown celebrity-hopefuls to massively-wealthy entrepreneurs.
According to Forbes, Gorgeous has a net worth of over $2 million as a lifestyle and makeup blogger.
The aforementioned Billie Eilish is currently 17, has a $6 million net worth, and had just released her first studio album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? last month.
Granted, she saw fame in her single hits, like “Ocean Eyes” (2017) and “lovely” (2018), but, without that knowledge, it may seem like Eilish is extraordinarily talented or lucky.
On the opposite end, 16-year-old Danielle Bregoli (or rap persona, Bhad Bhabie) gained fame by being a misbehaved adolescent on Dr. Phil, being physically abusive to her mother, and cursing or threatening the audience.
She now has a net worth of a hefty $3 million, as many took a liking to her angered catchphrase “Cash me outside, how ‘bout that?”
Faith D’Alessandro, a sophomore education-history double major, commented, “It makes me feel insecure that I don’t have the same opportunities as these young stars to make millions because I’m not in the public eye. It makes it seem like hard work doesn’t matter anymore but rather the number of followers and social influence a person can have.”
D’Alessandro concluded, “Social media is a catalyst for many people, skilled or not, to become millionaires quickly and easily, and it can make rising young workers feel awful.”
“Oversharing is what caused the beginnings of this to happen,” said Kristine Simoes, A.P.R., a specialist professor in communication and department advisor. “And social media, the ability to doctor photos, and the accessibility or seeing the lives of others in full are influencing an illusion of worthlessness in young people.”
“While there were obviously feelings of dissatisfaction and depression in the past, ” Simoes continued, “there was an overall greater sense of self-assurance in youth because they were not bombarded with constant imagery of better and bigger lives that may or may not even be totally accurate.”
“Disconnecting and focusing on their happiness and career paths is essential now more than ever to people in general who feel overwhelmed by the grand over-exaggeration of others’ lives on social media,” Simones concluded.
Never before have the youth of today been exposed to such intense stimuli from celebrity culture, and seeing a constant reminder of the early success of many media figures can cause a detrimental lapse in self-esteem.
Feelings of worthlessness and underachievement can come increasingly to young students working towards their life’s goals, but witnessing others their age getting there quicker and on a larger scale than imaginable.
The trajectory of the definition of success can change soon, but, for now, the youth of the world seem to achieve the wealth and fame as they desire rapidly, or [figuratively] die trying.
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