a millenial in the diseased Twenties writes
Gatekeepers in the Library
an ongoing series of unfortunate events…
The Diseased Twenties is what I am calling it, as that is the way the early part of the new decade has begun, and although when some of you think of the ills of the world today you will inevitably think of Trump, Globalisation and the Corona Virus pandemic that is currently killing off hundreds of elderly and already sick people in this country and many more beyond, I think it’s inevitable that the roots of all our present day malaise go back much further than the year 2016 when the American public didn’t endorse the “liberal” candidate as so many in the mainstream media wanted them to. Those shrill voices on social media and beyond who excoriate the current administrations in the US and UK daily are only proving how well they have been trained to parrot key talking points by an Orwellian system, and younger commentators will only have to look back as far as the Blair & Bush years if they wish to witness an example of a true dystopia. They would do well to take a lesson from my generation, who are now into their thirties and in some cases only just beginning to recover, if they wish to avoid being lead up the garden path as we were.
Maybe this isn’t the place for this but I’m going to do it anyway
Can we talk, for a moment, about how the internet democratising information has made universities look like the gatekeepers of thought that they really are? For the majority of people they are going to take up three+ years of your life and charge a small fortune to impart a load of text book stuff that you will probably never use in return for a certificate while giving you little or no opportunity to gain practical know-how.
The value of any academic teaching, for at least as long as there has been libraries, has always been in directing us through the vast mine of information out there to the particular facts and strategy we need to know in order to make our way in a chosen profession.
The modern university is a tool concerned mainly with funneling young women and men through a series of lectures until they prove that they can memorise enough of a text book and regurgitate it to pass a test of memory or paste it into an essay, and less about making them useful members of society.
When I was in uni (University of Kent) the function for many of us appeared to be nothing more than to keep us off the dole for a few more years until we could be found a call centre to spend the rest of our days in.
In those days (the early 2000s) the university we got was already outdated. Most of the course reading was in textbooks or photocopies. The syllabus and key dates were handed out on paper at the beginning of the term, which I would inevitably lose. Phone screens were monochrome. Most people didn’t own a computer device that could be described as in any way portable. This will seem ridiculous to people in only a few years from now if it doesn’t already.
There used to be rooms full of communal computers in those days, that were the only way you had of getting online. It’s a wonder that we didn’t all die of bacterial infection from tapping away on the communal keyboards.
The majority of jobs that were actually useful and productive in a society for anything other than pouring profits into the coffers of some large and virtue-signalling corporate body, we were taught these were to be looked down on. They were menial tasks, to be performed by an immigrant who would earn less than we would inevitably be paid once we reached the nirvana of our eventual graduation.
If it didn’t quite turn out like that, is it any wonder then that a millenial generation who were indoctrinated to believe that everything would be rosy for them if they just towed the line have eventually become disgruntled and turned into the generation that is the most career-focussed (versus family-focussed) and least fulfilled of all time?
Don’t get me wrong. My generation have largely had it good, and I’m grateful. We’ve got so much more, materially, than many who have gone before. We’ve got better technology and better healthcare, cars, comforts, material goods. But, for many, our own home and family are goals that are beyond us, constantly being pushed further away down the line.
We were the butterfly generation, who were taught to value experience and “be flexible” above all else. We were taught to chop and change people, places, jobs, partners and work colleagues at will – as often as not at the whims of others that were totally beyond our control. I wonder if the next generation will want decide they want to focus on the same things as we did, once they see the reward? Or will staying true to your roots and a sense of tradition regain some value?
Next time: Education, education, education.