I recently came across a quite thought provoking article online. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of getting the author’s details as it was one of those random things you stumble upon, while searching for something non-related on Google. But I do remember that the author was Indian. Either from New Delhi or Mumbai and it was a She.
What caught my attention was how she spoke of many young Indians in their 20s, trying to keep up appearances for the sake of their friends or the city life when in the real sense, many were barely making ends meet. Some would possess the latest gadgets yet they lacked food to eat. One wouldn’t even dream of selling her car yet she could not afford her house rent and actually slept in that very same car she drove.
I could relate well with that article. The same scenario is equally being played right here in Kenya. It beats my logic that a section of Kenyans, are wondering why so many young people in our country are increasingly getting hooked to betting games. With one columnist a couple of months back describing Kenyans on one of the dailies as a gambling nation.
Of course the school of thought usually borders on the lines of, the young generation of Kenyans being lazy by nature and therefore, looking for easier ways to make some serious cash. This could be true to some extent, judging by the fact that some people in my country have gone to the extremes of committing suicide, after losing a significant amount of cash in these popular betting games.
However, we tend to miss the whole point that is driving young Kenyans to become increasingly hungry for money. The point which I feel this Indian author captured perfectly in her article.
There’s the whole idea of keeping up appearances, the city life and all its tempting offers, being cool and being part of the crowd. You can’t really escape it and especially, if you are a young person residing in these large cities where many temptations of a good life are constantly thrown at you on a daily basis.
Be it through watching already established persons cruising in their latest car models, seeing your peers constantly upgrading their gadgets, getting wind of the latest fashion modes…it’s all there for you urbanite to see. We thought peer pressure ended in our teens but seems like we were wrong. It simply heightens to new levels once we get to our 20s with social media being a major driving force behind it.
I once heard a relative who was 28 then, musing about getting a car simply because all of his workmates in the same age range were driving. And so he had over time come up with this very convincing list of reasons, as to why he should be getting a car before year end and he was seriously saving for it! Equally had a model in mind. It didn’t seem to matter to him whether a car was really necessary to get by year end or something else was more important to get.
I can’t really blame him though. When you walk into a social gathering of young , successful individuals in their 20s who are all blessed enough to be driving and suddenly, everyone you meet in that same gathering is asking you where your car is packed…it gets to you. Trust me, you are going to loathe the fact that you use public transport on a daily basis when your peers are talking of road trips, garage visits and replacing their worn out tires. You simply want to be like them.
Many of these young individuals in their mid twenties, may already be working their first jobs and by now we know that many first jobs are hardly fulfilling. It’s either the pay is not enough or you are working a job position that you were not even trained for. It’s a fact of life being played out in major cities and towns.
But you may still yearn to maintain those friendships you forged back in campus when you were fully dependent on your parent. The downside is, while it was easier back then to spend without a care in the world, nowadays, you have to factor in the reality of you being dependent on your own resources, (which may many times not be enough) and not your parent’s.
When it gets to a point where keeping up appearances to your peers is much more important, than concentrating on what you really need for your own survival as an individual, then we know that something is utterly wrong. Unfortunately, many young individuals do not even understand how it got to that point in their lives and simply accommodate it as how things should be. No wonder one not seeing the oddity behind maintaining a car and actually residing in it, when you could always sell that car and rent an affordable place for yourself.
I’m not sure if it has gotten to that serious point in my country but I’m a young urbanite in my 20s, who equally struggles to make ends meet, resides in the Capital and still occasionally feels the pressure to conform. And especially, when you have friends around you who seem not to understand why you cannot join them for something they consider fun, simply because you secretly know you can’t afford it and don’t want to reveal that bit. Call me drab and uptight, but I would choose the comfort of my four walls nowadays, to an invitation that would leave me 10 times broker than I was initially.
We talk of young women increasingly and despicably getting sponsors to finance their lifestyles in my country… it is the pressure. The pressure to conform. The pressure to live in that 4 bedroom apartment in an upmarket area like so and so or to shop in those big malls like so and so. It doesn’t mean that I’m justifying their actions to mooch off an old man who could as well be a great grandfather to a couple of tots, I’m simply painting the reality on the ground.
So like the author of the article I came across who concluded on a humanitarian stand where she decided to always ask a young person if he/she had eaten, irregardless of what appearance they presented, I conclude not with a humanitarian stand, but two questions. Where did we go wrong? and What do we do about it?