Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

44. Finishing school/Quitting your job

Friday, October 29th, 2010
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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4. Nobody Gives a S***

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I don’t. You don’t. Nobody does.

You come back from a “life altering” trip and want to tell your friends all about it. “OMG! You have to tell me everything!” they say. That is complete bullshit. They don’t want to hear everything. They don’t care about the travel minutiae, pointless explanations about how cool this Irish guy you met randomly and traveled with for three raucous days of shared self-discovery was or how insane it is to take a piss in a bathroom with geckos running across the wall.

People are haters. It’s not malicious. Most of the time, it’s unintentional, subconscious even. They don’t care to read the book, just its synopsis. Don’t print them out the full job description; hand them a business card.

“How was it?!” they ask excitedly, when you run into them at a bar. Although they genuinely want to hear how your 6 months overseas were, they only wanna hear it summarized in five sentences: “It was awesome. I covered 12 countries on two continents. I got laid four times. Saw Radiohead in Prague. Sucks to be home.” Note that the five sentences explain a lot: awesomeness, geography, sex, the highlight of the trip, and confirmation that the listener is missing out big time. That’s all they want. If you give them more, they’ll zone out and start checking out some one night stand candidate across the room.

Sorry, but people are caught up in their own lives. And fair enough. Reality is not spent sleeping in hostels, eating pad thai on the street, screwing foreigners or hopping from bus to train to airport terminal and back to bus again. It’s spent in a mind-numbing litany of commutes, cubicles, grocery stores, TV programs and beds. We lock into monotonous routines, not exhilirating spontaneity. Everyone can’t just quit their jobs, pack up and go on a big trip. We need to keep our jobs, move up in the company, pay the bills.

“But keep in touch, OK? Take lots of pictures and send us e-mails! I wanna read all about it,” they say. They won’t read it. They’re too lazy to. Just send pictures. Feel free to e-mail updates, but don’t expect more than a 2 percent response rate.

They won’t read the book, they might even pass on the synopsis, but they will watch the “movie.” YouTube and Facebook killed the e-mail star. While Facebook is a convenient multimedia delivery mechanism for both parties, it may very well be the most self-indulgent invention in the history of mankind. Even more self-indulgent than this blog. It’s also as gay as rollerblades. More on that later.

Don’t take it personal. It’s just that your journey of self-discovery was precisely that – for yourself and about yourself. That’s why it’s more irrelevant to others than you’d often like to believe.

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