A Teenage Conversation with Society

This short scene takes place in the bedroom of a nameless teenager. In the bedroom there is a single bed and a mirrored sliding wardrobe that extends the length of the wall. On the other three walls there is a flat screen TV and two posters, a Pulp Fiction one and long framed poster of the New York skyline. The teenager, a gangly 17 year old Sixth Form student, is sitting on his bed reading his first Nietzsche essay as The Smiths plays in the background. 

The time is around 10:30pm. Suddenly we hear a noise. The teenager sits up and looks at the window as a dark figure climbs through. The intruder is society. He wears a black cloak and black gloves. The hood covers his head but not his face, which looks middle-aged and almost an older version of the teenager. The teenager is not startled by the cloaked man, as he has had frequent visits from him in the past. Although lately he has been visiting more and more often. He begins as always:

SOCIETY: Hey kid, so I have some good news and bad news for you. The bad news is your childhood is officially over. That carefree lifestyle you didn’t appreciate? Yeah that’s gone now. There will be no more soaking up free education, sponging of your parents, and generally just taking from me. But the good news is it is time to get a job!

TEENAGER: Those both sound like bad news to me. Can’t I enjoy life for a bit?

SOCIETY: Nope! Here is an infinite list of careers available to you – pick one and do this for the rest of your life.

TEENAGER: Only one? That seems a bit unfair. What if I don’t know what I want at this point in time? What if I want to do more than one thing on the list? What if the thing I want now isn’t what I want in the future? Can you really trust a teenager who hasn’t had any work or life experience to make such a big decision?

SOCIETY: Stop thinking so much. Just choose a career. Work your way up the career ladder. Earn lots of money. Focus on material objects and satisfy your primal urges.

TEENAGER: But isn’t life too short to concentrate on all that stuff? Isn’t life for living? After all we are only alive for the merest moments on this earth, shouldn’t our main priority be experiencing everything we possibly can instead of spending our lives at a mundane job that doesn’t stimulate us or help us grow?

SOCIETY: Nonsense! Don’t worry about all that stuff.

TEENAGER: Okay then, if you say so. What should I do?

SOCIETY: Anything you want!

TEENAGER: Okay, well, I like movies. I’ve always wanted to be a movie director!

SOCIETY: Don’t be silly. It is very unlikely you would suceed at this.

TEENAGER: How about helping people? I’ve heard focusing on altruism is very rewarding and important.

SOCIETY: No. There’s no money in that.

TEENAGER: Aw. How about art? I love painting and I am really good at it. I could to be an artist!

SOCIETY: That’s not a real job. There is too much social stigma attached to the arts. You need a real job!

TEENAGER: I’m confused. What’s a “real job”?

SOCIETY: A stable 9-5 job that earns lots of money.

TEENAGER: But I don’t really care about money.

SOCIETY: You need to care. If you earn lots of money you can save up all that money and put it towards a retirement plan. Then you can use all them savings when you retire to relax and do whatever you want!

TEENAGER: But why do I have to wait till I retire to do what I want? Can’t I just do that now?

SOCIETY: No that’s not how things work.

TEENAGER: Well why not? Can’t we just change the system so things are more focused on enjoying life?

SOCIETY: Don’t be so foolish. Just go to university and pay them thousands of pounds and they will condition you into thinking this is the route you’re supposed to take. Everyone is doing it, everyone can’t be wrong. You will soon conform and forget. Then you’ll be happy. Just trust me.

TEENAGER: Okay, I’ll trust you. Don’t let me down.

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17 thoughts on “A Teenage Conversation with Society

  1. First off, thanks for liking my post and following my blog; Diane and I really appreciate your support

    Now; having said that, I apologize ahead of time but I need to throw in the two cents of a blogger who comes from a generation of “9 to 5” workers that mostly lived the lifestyle that you guys from the internet generation clearly hate and resent.

    While I thoroughly agree and even empathize with the story you describe above, there’s a couple of things you guys all can’t understand because you’re not old enough. Diane and I hate getting up to commute every day as much as everyone else. Fortunately, we don’t have kids and since I wasted my 30 years of cubicle dwelling in the financial services industry, we have accumulated almost $1 million in assets which now gives us the luxury of an early retirement before age 50. And we didn’t have to work 100 hours a week and sell an internet start up company. Now, as you may have seen on my about page, I was “laid off” which actually means the company replaced me five months later with someone your age that does not earn their living writing blogs, being a world traveler and living off “online income”, but is willing to do my job for half the salary and with less vacation and benefits.

    Since becoming a blogger, I’ve come across thousands of young people living this new life of doing whatever they want. I’m here to tell you that no matter how happy you may be with defying society and working only when you fell like it, a life at age 50+ with no pension, no retirement fund, little savings and no practical work experience other than “online income” will most certainly assure that you will NOT be able to continue what you want at our age because life costs money. And so does your kids college fund which at this rate won’t matter because only Asian and Indian kids take the real professional jobs in America anyway because their parents instilled all the values you mock in this post.

    I’m not judging and I hope you don’t take offense; what I’m trying to get across here is that not everyone in my generation ruined today’s world for you. I had nothing to do with the shitty politics that ultimately turned America’s economy into a load of shit based on career retail clerks that are encouraged to over-consume. But the USA rules the planet thanks to an elite and very complicated system designed to keep them in power while what’s left of the middle class slowly dwindles away, If all your generation refuses to “follow the man” and simply does whatever they want, it hurts only all of you, not those in power. So try to understand both viewpoints before mocking those that decide they want to pursue professional careers instead of being “world travelers”

    I’m done ranting and will never bring it up again. And I actually do like this post and your writing which carries a certain sarcastic edge yet remains pungent. Hope I didn’t upset you with this blog and feel free to write a counterpoint rebuttal on our contact page; In fact, it would make a good post !!

    .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Rob, thank you for reading so intently and commenting! I have decided to write a post in response to your comment as I have a lot of opinions about what you said. I will write and post it in the next few days when I have a minute.
      Cheers! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! Had the EXACT same conversation with Society a bunch of years ago. I decided not on one career but a few… And I followed passion Perhaps not the soundest of financial decisions but I’ve always found a way to make it work.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely! I don’t always get to do the EXACT thing I set out to do (writing films) but I DO get to write a few. (There is zero money in Canada for this…) To make money, I write TV promos and try to think of them as mini-movies. I write commercials. I write copy. I story edit.I may occasionally get frustrated not getting the gigs I want, but I remind myself I am working and pay bills as a writer.

        Admittedly, there have been a few sacrifices along the way… And I’m not sure whether things would be different if I have children or a different partner but it’s all turning out fine.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Spot on!
    Reminds me of certain changes I have finally permitting myself to take on with a little more courage even if this may be an unconventional route, as compared to the practical, pragmatic lifestyle espoused in society, as you rightly noted.

    Love this post so full of heart and honesty♥
    Do keep writing and sharing your light as you do.
    Take care, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am studying on one of best school in Pakistan and I am so tired of same schedule the worst thing our school doesn’t even guaranteed jobs that will make me content,I took media studies so i could have more field work but even from now it feels like a cubicle life. People always say to lower to expectation when it comes professionally and it’s not fair. I feel like quitting but I can’t because my mom puts amount of money in their banks and it’s seems business
    You blog brings new insights . LOVE this post.

    Like

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