So the latest bored-old-hack thing du jour is to label children of the ’80s “millennials” and get stuck into them for the same shit bored old hacks did to Generation X, etc. etc. So far, so very every reactionary article, and while a lot of them have valid points (narcissism and selfies, for example), it’s mostly just the same old same: “kids these days and their technology/music/haircuts (delete as applicable), aren’t they silly/weird/unfamiliar to our audience!”.
The counter-arguments build up in your head as you read, and you know you’re fighting a losing battle with the decrepits that churn out this stuff to make old people feel better about their own losing battle with relevance, because they don’t care. They’re filling a publishing gap that keeps the fourth wall on their cubicle for another few weeks.
You might not be able to find a decent job because print media ignored the internet for as long as it did, or because “bloggers aren’t journalists”, or because everyone with a cracked copy of Photoshop is a graphic designer now. You might not be able to find a job because you are fresh out of uni/college and not connected to anyone, or unwilling to do the requisite sucking up (because heaven forfend hard work and talent get you anywhere). Or you simply may not be able to find a job because we’re in a worldwide recession caused by the collective greed and irresponsibility of the generation that preceded you. Regardless, it’s apparently our fault that we were born at a certain time and circumstance, and are hitting our working and motivational peaks at a time when things are in the shits and getting worse. But fear not, because the obvious conclusion is on its way.
If everything, and everyone, is weaker than ten years ago, surely the playing field is more even going forward? We live in an age of unprecedented access to all manner of organisational and logistical tools geared toward entrepreneurs. Do it yourself! Open-source software, social media and viral culture, the inherited influences of thousands of years of cultural & informational evolution at your fingertips thanks to smartphones. If you’re still stuck in that post-adolescent black hole and bemoaning your fate at a time where any niche market you can dream of entering is wide open and needs people involved, I honestly don’t know what to tell you.
Let’s make an example of someone, if he doesn’t mind. Dublin man Laurance Meade has played in hardcore/metal outfit Hero in Error for umpteen years now. The band is a fixture, and draws consistently on their own merits when out on tour, regardless of place on the bill. Lar Meade plays in a band, and like anyone else in a creative capacity, has realised that without initiative, that simple aim of doing something cool with your life won’t happen. So he started booking and promoting gigs. Then, he opened relations with Mediaskare, a mid-major in the US, and became their man in Europe. Then, he co-founded a recording studio. Then he set up his own label, Putting Out Records, to do his bit for bands he likes. Then he took the plunge and started Merch Zombies with two others, and is launching a full-scale merch manufacture business for Irish bands and other clients. All this in the past few years, all of which are sustaining themselves if not growing exponentially. If he can surround himself with everything he loves and make a life out of it, and still have time for people, you have no excuses for sitting at your desk, twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the next unpaid internship or descending into pitiful self-importance in front of your phone camera.
The grants and benefits are there. The openness is there, and with hard work and a little cheek in approaching people, so are audiences for whatever you want to do. If nothing else, in making a stab, you have the experience of laying into every aspect of a business wholesale and independently on your CV for others who do cool things to take notice and give you a lash. And nothing to lose.
You owe it to yourself to play to your own strengths at a time when “the establishment”, as po-faced and jaded as that term is, really doesn’t give a shit about you. Mike McGrath-Bryan