I am not an avocado-smashing wastrel

A couple of weeks ago, The Examiner ran a column, the topic ofwhich inspired a great deal of passion and debate amongmany of our readers. This week we have the opportunityto present a different perspective and a different voice on the essence of Gen Y.

If you read Danielle Blewett’s article ‘I need… I want… I am… Give me’ from a few weeks back then you may have got the impression that the under 35s want cash, wisdom, a hot body, and (somewhat inexplicably) your hubbie as well.

All without expecting to do the HARD YARDS *shakes fist at cloud*.

Ouch. Blewett certainly knows how to throw shade.

I took her out for a coffee in the wake of this article (btw I paid).

She informed me, sincerely, that it was a joke.

Tongue in cheek. But I was left wondering whose tongue?

In whose cheek???

The folks I rub shoulder with weren’t laughing.

This article was like a beesting – and, wow, it stung.

It stung because in Tassie we know that young people face some pretty spectacular challenges.

Any teacher in the public education system will tell you that the system needs the pressure taken off it so they can get on with the business of teaching.

Tasmania has low NAPLAN scores, terrible school retention rates, and something like 50% of Tasmanian’s have non-functional literacy.

Our young folk also exist in a context where they constantly face rejection.

“You have been unsuccessful at this time” are words that any young job seeker in Tasmania has gotten used to.

Being rejected sucks, and getting used to rejection is hard.

Add to this a uniquely Tasmanian history of sexism, racism, classism and homo- and transphobia all of which thrive by rejecting people and telling them that they are not good enough, not normal, not wanted.

Of course, there are so many brilliant things about growing up here in Tasmania.

Happy to wax lyrical about this if the Examiner invites me back.

But we do ourselves a disservice by not acknowledging the problems embedded in Tasmanian society and what this inheritance means for our young people.

This narrative of under 35s as duckfaced, avo-smashing wastrels is a distraction, designed to hook you into a lazy, blame-addled spiral. It’s not the view from the ground up.

I see the young folk in Launceston organising, creating and mobilising to make spaces for themselves, their peers and their communities.

I see young people starting record labels that pay artists fairly, making zines, poems and writing passionately about their experiences.

They are performing music, using their art to support other young people, protesting and fighting for long term sustainable environmental policy!

Imagine that!

Thinking about the long term!

Young people are pushing for recognition, respect and change and they’ve got lots to say about it.

I’m sure they’ll share it with you, but you’ll have to get off your pedestal first.

Lucinda Shannon is a spoken-word performer andthe former organiser of word slam competitionSlamduggery.

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