Entrenched in the dog days of summer, you cannot help but envision children lying on the grass in the backyard and looking up at the sky, daydreaming about the future. Back in the day, a lot of kids would dream big, picturing themselves exploring the stars, walking on the moon, colonizing Mars, and perhaps even encountering extraterrestrials. Those days are over; now they have video games to do it for them. Well, at least in the United States and Great Britain.
It looks like the Chinese are not only purchasing US dollars and stealing intellectual property but also confiscating those classic American dreams.
Fly Me to the Moon
According to a new Harris Partners study, 29% of American kids and 30% of British children want to become YouTubers or vloggers when they grow up. Let’s hope this does not include Dailymotion because they are setting themselves up for failure. A considerable number also want to have careers in teaching, sports, and music.
The same poll found that more than half (56%) of Chinese kids desire becoming astronauts. Interestingly enough, vlogging is the least desirable career choice, with just 10% of Chinese youth picking this as a job to put groceries on the table and a roof overhead.
When the story went viral, digital audiences chuckled at the latest development in the tragic state of youth, continually alluding to the cult film classic Idiocracy. It is easy to point to this story as Exhibit No. 2,332 in the collapse of Western civilization. However, once you examine all possible angles, the responses make a bit more sense.
Are you interested in applying for an astronaut position at NASA? Good luck.
The barriers to entry in an astronaut career are innumerable. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in any STEM field and three years of professional experience (or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft), you need to pass an exhaustive physical examination, speak Russian, and train and practice for spacewalks. Not to mention you’re competing with more than 18,000 applicants.
Meanwhile, to start a vlogging career, you open a YouTube account and possess a high-quality camera. That’s it. But not everyone can succeed in this field, and that is where the two career options intersect – both require technical proficiency, dedication, and hard work.
To thrive on YouTube, you need good and interesting content and superb digital marketing skills. This may sound easy, but it is incredibly difficult. Sure, you may have a video that goes viral once or twice – you see it all the time on the front page of YouTube – but to consistently create content that will generate a million clicks in one or two days can be nearly impossible. And, to be frank, that is the only way to make a steady YouTube income; 100,000 views on two of your 35 videos will no longer suffice.
Even if all American children wanted to become astronauts, there is not enough demand. Heck, that 11% figure is way too high when you consider that just 50 candidates out of the 18,000 will make it to the final hiring round, or just 0.0027%. Today, NASA has 38 active astronauts and 18 management astronauts on the payroll; the highest it has ever been was in 2000 when there were 149.
When parents and teachers advise students to follow their dreams and passions, they are doing a disservice to the young generation. Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, might have been correct when he stated, “Passion is too important to be without, but too fickle to be guided by. Which is why I’m more inclined to say, ‘Don’t follow your passion, but always bring it with you.’”
A lot has been said about present-day youth, mostly in a pejorative sense. But everything being expressed about young people has been uttered before, even dating back to the ancient Greeks.
One of the greatest philosophers of all time, Aristotle, accused them of having “exalted notions” and preferring to “do noble deeds” rather than “useful ones.” Despite the stereotypes of whippersnappers – overindulgence, sloth, and ignorance – we do not give young people enough credit. Sure, a vlogging career might seem ridiculous to Baby Boomers, but how is that any different from past desires of making it big in Hollywood and starring alongside Tyrone Power or Maureen O’Hara?
Along the way, someone who tries to be a vlogger might learn a new set of skills, from digital marketing to technical production, landing an entirely new career. Life is all about baby steps, and you have to crawl before you walk. There is no easy answer to our existence – it is a cold, sad, and harsh reality that we navigate on our own, making mistakes that have serious consequences and enjoying gains that lead to vast rewards.