The Rat Race in Today’s Generation (and what we can do about it)

Did you just bought a new fancy bag that your friends have been drooling also for some time? Why not post it on Instagram or Facebook, right? And don’t forget to post the mouth -watering picture of your favourite foods in a trending restaurant in town. The next day you woke up and take a picture of yourself in front of your full-body mirror and post it on Instagram, adding hashtag such as #morning #selfie #happy and look other’s picture for your next post inspiration.

It seems to be a  familiar routine with young people between sixteen to early twenty’s, although we cannot stereotyped every young people in such way, I found about at least a third of my friends doing it daily. Today and in the past, teenagers look for expression through musical genre, art and performance, book and novel among other things. But today, more and more youngster are expressing themselves with what they possessed. Possession doesn’t necessarily mean material things, although it counts for the majority of things they take proud having and want their peers to know, it symbolise coolness or trendiness in following the latest trend. What I refer to possession in this article include physical attribute such as beauty, good body shape, skin complexion, hairstyles, etc.

If you have an Instagram, you might observe that about fifty percent of the posts in general is about goods, and luxury goods takes account to a sizeable portion of it. Women are interested in bags, purses, nail arts, foods, beauty photo and other general stuff while men are usually interested in cars, watches, sport goods, etc. This phenomenon is the reason luxury goods industry have been expanding fast in the recent decade, although there is no harm in being interested with luxury but it overshadowed some other important aspect in life. The point is that more and more people today are expressing themselves through what they have rather than the attribute they have in themselves, attributes like attitude, manner and respect. The concept of self-centred thinking have been rising fast in this generation, the thinking itself is harmless but may induce lack of compassion and even lead to depression for the individual engaging with such thinking daily.

Less people are doing things for the enjoyment of doing it and not because it is perceived as “cool” by your peers. The social status takes important role in shaping the generation as we are today, known previously as “rat race” which I believe in some point of life everyone suffer from it. The need of being perceived as “trendy” or “fashion-conscious”, young people bought goods they don’t really need with the money they don’t actually have (read: afford).

Three points that leads me to write this post is that first, people today unconsciously value who they are through what they have. Second, the trending of narcissism which according to medical research have both good and bad effect depending on our self esteem. Third, the materialistic view young people have in the end is a form of a rat race, and you know what a rat race is. Even if you win, you are still a rat.

“Five studies established that normal narcissism is correlated with good psychological health. Specifically, narcissism is (a) inversely related to daily sadness and dispositional depression, (b) inversely related to daily and dispositional loneliness, (c) positively related to daily and dispositional subjective well-being as well as couple well-being, (d) inversely related to daily anxiety, and (e) inversely related to dispositional neuroticism. More important, self-esteem fully accounted for the relation between narcissism and psychological health. Thus, narcissism is beneficial for psychological health only insofar as it is associated with high self-esteem.” (Sedikides, Gregg, Rudich, Kumashiro, Rusbult)

While it’s true that the recipients of the most annoying of the narcissist’s traits—an inflated sense of self-importance, an overwhelming need for admiration and a lack of empathy toward others—suffer emotionally, the narcissist himself actually suffers physically from higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can lead to health problems like high blood pressure and heart issues.  (Konrath, Reinhard)

But I’m not writing an article only to criticise the young people (I’m also counted among the population), but to enlighten some issues and the value emerging from it. We tend to enjoy things more when we do it because we want to do it, not because we want to impress other people by doing it. Then we can be aware that we are not defined by what we have, no matter how society may look at us, we defined ourselves through our attitude, thinking, and other personal attribute. That doesn’t stop us from enjoying the goods around us everyday, but create a sense of awareness that what we do and have is a part is simply what we do and have, not who we are defined with.



About Journeyman

A global macro analyst with over four years experience in the financial market, the author began his career as an equity analyst before transitioning to macro research focusing on Emerging Markets at a well-known independent research firm. He read voraciously, spending most of his free time following The Economist magazine and reading topics on finance and self-improvement. When off duty, he works part-time for Getty Images, taking pictures from all over the globe. To date, he has over 1200 pictures over 35 countries being sold through the company.
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