The ‘New Old’
In the book “Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, 18th century Romantics have been dubbed “The Young Dead”. Youths filled with yearning to be re-united with a mysterious past, enamored in the power of imagination and experience. These were people trying to break free from the rationality of the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution gripping the Western world. Most, if not all, of them lived by the motto: “Live Fast, Die Young”.
In the computer age, the term “The Young Dead” is dead. The 21st century youth “live fast and die never,” immortalizing themselves in their online posts and virtual lives. And out of these netphiles emerges the New Old, a generation of young achievers and game changers, who have put themselves on the map, way before the ink dries up on their college diploma. Justin Bieber, Mark Zuckerberg, student bloggers, young entrepreneurs —barely 25, some even as young as 16 years old— are already changing the world. With the world—and its endless possibilities—at their fingertips, literally, the youth today seem to be on the fast track to adulthood.
Sociologist Dr. Josephine “Peppin” Aguilar says that this New Old is a global phenomenon,with technology as one of its main movers. The internet has made the world smaller, faster -paced. Thanks to technology, we have access to information and global opportunities in a click-stant. There are no geographical walls, no social barriers. Because everything is easy and fast, we expect success to be as instant as text messages. But it never is.
Technology is both boon and bane. While the world is within our fingertips, success is also expected from us. Professors expect well-researched term papers THE NEXT DAY “dahil na naman natin kailangan pumunta sa National Library to do research” But as the world closed in on us, so is the competition. Now, we do not only need to compete locally, but also globally.
Ironically, the smallness of our world gave us the tunnel vision to see the bigger world ahead. That vision of a vast world of possibilities created a more pragmatic, highly-productive, multi-tasking generation. We have learned to make the most out of our time and become wiser, faster, better. The upside: we are ready to face challenges. The downside: We can no longer be laid-back.
“Young people now do not settle for less because they’ve seen the highs that they can reach and the lows that they can drop down to. Teens now are conscious of socio-economic conditions. Thus, they strive more, do more… for them and for their families. Before the thinking is just to finish college and then think of the future later. Ngayon college palang, nag-iisip na, nagtatrabaho na,” says Dr. Aguilar.
Still, she cautions that while a good thing, all that dynamism has a saturation point. “The New Old have a vision, an objective and would work on that objective tirelessly but striving so early also means that magsasawa ka kaagad.” In the United States, these are the burned-out 20-something who live in their parents garage or basement and shirk from any kind of responsibilities. After all, they have had enough of them when they were young.
Dr. Aguilar’s advice? Strive hard but pace yourself. Surround yourself with people who will accept you, successful or not. Having a support group is what makes Filipinos less pressured. Because at the end of the day, failure isn’t really what we fear, it’s being alone.