It seems like the running theme for this generation has been, “It’s not fair!”. As an 80’s kid, I grew up at a time when the entertainment industry was catering to us. Everything created in the 80’s nurtured our imagination, encouraged us to be rebellious, and kept us young – “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys ‘r Us kid.”.
But, the 80’s also saw interest rates in the 20th percentile, the AIDS crisis, the Cold War, and the dawn of personal computing (which would, later on, displace women from the field as more boys played with computers at a younger age, and later grew up to be the gatekeepers at universities, and in tech companies). Schooling was mostly all rote memorization, and kids who misbehaved got spanked, in front of their schoolmates. Heck, my school principal still smoked in his office. Every generation has its problems. We’re not worse off now than we were back then.
In fact, a lot of things have improved since then, even if *some* things are still tough today. Housing in Canada is a complete mess, but my gut tells me that that’s by design. I think the days of ownership are gone. We’ve already seen this with SaaS (Software as a Service), and now, even with cars, tools, and appliances. Subscriptions are the new model for everything. Rent is a form of subscription, so I’m sure the people in power have figured out that owning and renting out living spaces is profitable. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Tesla Homes, Google Condos, and Amazon Apartments in the future.
I’m in my mid-40’s now, and I have to admit, not a whole lot bothers me anymore. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve been burned? How many times I’ve suffered? Nothing in life is fair. All you have to do to learn that lesson really quickly is to observe microscopic life for a while. Things get eaten alive, get injured, and starve all the time. Even this beautifully advanced intelligence that we all have (compared to other creatures) is going to include things that we don’t always like, like selfishness, greed, and hate. I don’t think it’s possible to rapidly cure hate. I do think it’s possible to rapidly turn someone into someone who hates. And that’s why I always urge caution in how problems are addressed. Sometimes, good intentions can also be harmful.
Anytime I see a meme posted about how life isn’t fair, I just glaze over it now. It’s like I’ve become numb to the complaints of the world. Every single day, someone deals with something that isn’t fair. Your typical workplace is likely full of people stabbing each other in the back. House prices will continue to climb, and if you don’t like it, you’ll likely have to move to a cheaper place, or accept that you’ll never own in your lifetime. Sorry kid, you were born in the wrong era. We can’t blame the boomers for everything and also expect to have the same luxuries they had. We got to grow up in an information era, and these new economic models are just a consequence of that.
With every issue that you face in life, you have to make a choice: you accept it, or you fight against it. If someone has done you wrong, you can attempt to right the wrong, or you can chalk it up to a bad experience, and move on. Fighting takes energy, money, and time. Want justice? Be prepared to pay for it, and trust me, if you devote yourself to it, you CAN right a wrong. But, if go at it half-assed, you won’t get anywhere. The truth is, most things are better off forgotten precisely because you can’t fight against every unfairness you encounter in your life. There has to be some give, and take.
I fought a lot when I was younger. I also accomplished a lot. When I fight, I usually win. But fighting is exhausting. And as we get older, our energy becomes more limited. You start to pick your battles, and you pay more attention to things with long-term value, like relationships, financial security, and health. And as you get more experience with life, you learn that every system is broken, whether it’s schooling, healthcare, or politics. There’s always something wrong with it. Eventually, you end up deciding what’s acceptable to you, and what isn’t. The things that we determine as fair or unfair are deeply personal to us. And by the way, you don’t owe anyone an explanation when you decide to fight for something that’s meaningful to you.
But at some point, this determination has to be balanced, because thinking that everything in life is unfair comes at a price. When you can no longer appreciate the good things, or be grateful for them, you end up with a mindset that is harmful to you, and to everyone around you. Eternal optimists are annoying, but so are toxic pessimists. The former will look to preserve everything to avoid confrontation, while the latter will rush to fix everything too quickly. I’ve seen a lot of broken stuff break even more when fixed with band-aids. Generation “it isn’t fair” needs a desperate dose of optimism. I don’t know what form that will take, but what I do know for sure is this: things always work out in the end. They always do.