44. Finishing school/Quitting your job

Oh, what to do with my life...?

"Oh, what to do with my life...?"

Taking a gap year, whatever you call it. People of my generation love not knowing what to do with our lives. A buddy of mine said to me the other day, “We’re so different from our parents, man. It’s like we’re too distracted. It’s sensory overload.” Well put. We are too distracted.

I just spent an hour watching Zach Galafianakis’ hilarious Absolut Vodka ads/videos on YouTube**, when I probably should have been sleeping, ‘cuz I have to go to work tomorrow. But NOOOOOO, I simply had to watch fat, bearded Zach in all his ridiculous, awkward, spazzing, infantile glory. (They are awesome, by the way, and I can’t

Taking a gap year makes you walk out into a mountain field, hold your arms out and breathe in deeply.

Taking a gap year makes you walk out into a mountain field, hold your arms out and breathe in deeply.

believe they’d been posted since 2008 and I just saw them for the first time tonight. Goddammit! So much media to consume, so little time.) This is the kind of shit I’m talking about. We’re posting/creeping on Facebook, tweeting, fiddling with our smartphones until we basically walk into each other like imbeciles (I love how the new Windows Phone 7 ad shows an old man who drove into a lamppost ‘cuz he was presumably so engrossed by his smartphone that he could no longer drive in a straight line, while [on the TV version] “This is a dramatization” pops up in fine print at the bottom of the screen. It’s not fake. Oprah is on a big campaign about this. People are dead because of this. Still kinda clever marketing, though, ‘cuz it’s true… See what I mean? I can’t even focus for five minutes to write this post.)

gap-year-02

"Having no responsibilities is awesome."

I have ADHD. Everybody does (see recent Globe and Mail article).

Our parents didn’t have these distractions. They got a job (“not a career, a job — there’s a difference” according to Chris Rock). They got married. They had kids before they turned 25. (Are you kidding me? I was on my third or fourth backpacking trip by 25, beenou, and with no offspring in sight.) They accepted responsibility. My generation, the Millennial Generation, as we’re often called, is allergic to responsibility.

We consume everything. We’ll do anything short of tattooing a fricken barcode on the backs of our necks to not miss out on the exciting digital information and sensory experiences out there waiting for us. We stay up late, we eat out, we party, we spend all our money and max out our credit cards, we travel and we never, ever grow up.

We are useless. Comedian Louis C.K. nailed it with a bit he did on Conan O’Brien, saying (about how people take technology for granted): “We live in an amazing, amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots that don’t care.”

gap-year-03

"And now to find me an obnoxious Aussie guy."

We have no discipline. Haven’t we all heard that before? And kids are getting worse (imagine that). Talk to any public school teacher you know. The kids are monsters, they have ADHD and you can’t use the strap on them or fail them, so they don’t listen to teachers anymore.

Somebody wrote all this about kids in the ’60s, granted, but they didn’t have PVR, wikipedia, Wired magazine or YouTube back then. They weren’t watching Mad Men and sitting there astonished at the idea of smoking in an office building. They also didn’t have 1,733 airlines worldwide at their fingertips. (They didn’t have Google either. I just googled that airline stat.) And they certainly didn’t go backpacking around the world. (The Lonely Planet wasn’t founded until 1972.)

We live in a globalized society. We see stuff on TV, or we read Eat Pray Love (ick), or watch The Bourne Identity, whatever, anything nowadays, and we think, “Man, I gotta get outta here.” Anthony Bourdain eats something somewhere and you can’t stand the thought of that smug prick having one on you, so you vow to go there one day and eat that.

(Insert gap-year caption here.)

(Insert gap-year caption here.)

I started writing this post about how when you go backpacking, everybody you meet has either a) just finished school or b) quit their job because there’s no other way (unless you won the lottery or are born rich and have zero responsibility) you could simply fuck off for six months to a year. Or more. But I ended up writing about how my generation doesn’t want to grow up and why. For all of those reasons, we backpack.

Maybe (before you finished school and came on this trip) you went back to school because you didn’t know what to do with

One more time now, into the sunset.

One more time now, into the sunset.

your life. Maybe (you’re here traveling to take a break from where) you’re teaching English overseas. Maybe you’re reading this blog because you posted “FML” as your Facebook status today, googled “backpacking” and by some twist of fate you found this blog. And you couldn’t leave. And you told your friends how great this blog was and made me famous and rich, so I could quit my job and go backpacking.

*Note: Every photo in this post was found on Google, upon searching “gap year.”

**OK Go music videos on YouTube kept me at the office late today (Nov. 2). There is no escape.

Nov. 10: Upon reading this post, my buddy Dan sent me a link to this hilarious video. Check it out: Gap Yah***.

Nov. 10: My fellow young travel blogger, Lil’ Fel, sent me a link to a NY Times article about our generation’s inability to grow up: What Is It About 20-Somethings?

***Dec. 15: Guy Stagg of The Telegraph, writes that the YouTube film ‘Gap Yah’ is a comedy phenomenon, but it’s also an important lesson in how not to behave on a gap year.

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11 Responses to “44. Finishing school/Quitting your job”

  1. Pete says:

    Your blog sucks absolute dick. I wish I could share a dorm in a hostel with you so I could jizz on your face while you sleep.

  2. mike says:

    Just read your post now, 5 hours after talking about the exact same thing with my Korean student. He’s late 20’s, works 6~7 days a week at his chemical pump company, no time for a girlfriend (or any friends), and will continue with this life for the next 30 years. I talked to him about how western kids today all want to travel, and it wasn’t like that with our parents. I told him about the amazing scenery and experiences I had in Laos and Cambodia. Asked him if he wanted to go? He said, “No, Korea is safe.” Nice…. We’ll see what Kim Jong-il has to say about that.

  3. Jo says:

    @Pete, I guess the truth sucks eh ? Grow up !!!

  4. Stéphane says:

    Yeah shut up Pete, you’re either a good friend of the writer (so you were teasing him), either very jealous of his good work…

    That’s great stuff, I laugh at every article! Keep up the good job, cheers from a type b) !

  5. Greg says:

    This blog is amazing (Pete… who said you could speak?)
    Each article I read from this blog makes me say, “Ah! You’re SO right! I think that too!”. It’s comforting to know that someone out there shares my opinion on things. Please keep posting!!

  6. Jez says:

    You’re right, you are a crappy generation. “Your” generations parents did backpack…but we did it without bloody IPOD applications and GPS and we got late and fucked up and even ended up in the wrong country some times. What the hell is so wrong with your generation that you need to google every destination, work out a spreadsheet for your spending (or have an app that does it for you) and log on every 5 minutes to post your co-ordinates…Or get them tattood in sanscrit on the back of your neck. And whats with the stupid hippy uniforms (shit, people in the 80s on Freak Street in Kathmandu) piss off with the tye dye and the hemp and you german tourists if i ever catch you on a beach wearing a gstring and a man skirt again I will smack you. Looking hard core serious backpacker says…wanker or wankeress with an arts degree to me.
    Dont get me wrong, nothing wrong with what your generation is doing when they feel safe enough to step out of the house – I do it still…except without the smart phone. Except now Im apparently a flash packer…well kids, let me let you in on a secret, I slept in rat infested hostels in the 80s..and I sure as shit dont mind sleeping in 5 star hotels with room service these days. And I dont have to apologise for it at all.
    Travel is great. No one should ever stop doing it but please please stop being so bloody serious about the whole thing!
    Have some fun. Get lost. Get in trouble. Get a smile on your face!

    Love your blog 🙂

  7. I’m surprised you didn’t mention this article, the huge NYT feature about how society is shifting and how the 20’s is like the new teens. We’re allowed to take more time than our parents did to decide what’s right and maybe even institutions should shift to recognize that this is a new phase of development (as insts were adapted to accept that teenagehood was dif from being a kid or adult). “EMERGING ADULTS” are what we’re being called.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html

    I say eff it. I hate these no goaled, smelly “drifters,” what i’ve come to call these backpackers who have nothing to do but to drift through out India and SE asia until their money/visa runs out and then head to australia to pick fruits and do it again.

    Anyways, if you’re a cool, motivated emerging adult who likes to travel and doesn’t have dreadlocks, you’ll probably dig my blog.

    Lil’Fel Rocks the World: A Travel Guide for Poor, Hip Students (or interns as I am now). http://www.lilfelrockstheworld.blogspot.com

  8. jth says:

    I have to completely disagree. I am 32 and my generation was the same way. We all traveled, spent all our money and did the same things that you guys do. And my sister who is much older than me did the same thing. I was part of “Generation X”.. they all have stupid monikers; and every generation thinks that they are so different than the ones prior. It’s just a cycle, I think that until you get to see people 10 years younger than you doing the same stupid shit that you did, one will think that they were the first. It’s called inexperience and immaturity and believe me, your generation did not invent it… I like your blog though.

  9. J’adore ton blog, il est super cool!

  10. Cap says:

    I’ve been reading through your blog and the only time I’ve laughed is just now after Pete’s comment. Awesome.

    You are a hypocrite and a hater surely – but more importantly, anyone who has ever travelled for more than a week would draw the same conclusions as you do; which I suppose is the reason so many people post in agreement with your observations.

    If you are going to be a c**nt, then at least be original and/or amusing. Otherwise there is no reward for trawling through the cruelty (except for comments like Pete’s, which will keep me going through the rest of your blog in the hope that there are more).

    Further (and I’m sure I’m not alone here), I’d be happy to donate a small amount of cash to finance your continued jaunts if only you’d post a picture of yourself. Oh how the anonymity of the internets allows us to heap scorn on ugly people and bemoan the lack of hot chicks. Maybe the reason you ‘never’ see any is because they see your hideous visage well in advance and run.

    Seriously, if we make it to, say, $150 USD, will you post one? I have an image of you in my head and it looks like this.

    http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs44/i/2009/098/5/8/All_american_guy_by_SammyLarina.jpg

    Go on, prove me wrong.

  11. Cap says:

    Oh and I mean c*nt.

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