The concept of meritocracy is still valid among Spanish youth | Half of young people say they feel frustrated for not leading the life they want
The term ‘Crystal Generation‘ was coined by the philosopher Montserrat Nebrera to describe the emotional fragility that, in their opinion, adolescents and young people had. Now, many of them are giving new meaning to this label. If being made of glass means showing intolerance or rejecting comments to minorities, or refusing to accept jobs with undignified conditions, then yes they are.
The SM Foundation, through the Youth Observatory in Latin America, wanted to find out how young people between the ages of 15 and 29 feel about this term. To do this, they launched a flash survey that has concluded with the study ‘Crystal Generation. Beyond the label’. Ariana Perez Coutadohead of the SM Youth Observatory and researcher, has explained how this expression has been used to define a generation excessively protected by their relatives, with little tolerance for criticism and frustrationand who need constant recognition for lack of self-esteem when making decisions.
With that description, it is logical that young people feel somewhat criticized. But this label does not have a theoretical basis that we can analyze more thoroughly and accurately. And precisely because of its inaccuracy, it is open to opinions”, he pointed out. For this reason, one in two young people thinks that it is an adequate term to explain their critical attitude towards the injustices of the world, and for his sensitivity towards social problems and mental and emotional health, while two out of three interpret it from a more negative perspective, as a criticism of them made from the adult world. “That 65 percent of them have become accustomed to living with uncertainty -as the study shows- shows that they have more courage than fragility“, has also defended Maite OrtizGlobal Director of the SM Foundation.
Meritocracy is still entrenched
Another point that this survey has made clear is that the idea of meritocracy remains entrenched in society. Up to 64% of young people continue to believe that making an effort is a guarantee to achieve their goals in life, and 61% consider that the majority of young people should try harder, instead of blaming society for preventing them from achieving his objectives.
As usual, there is a fear of not meeting the expectations of his family or friends. The sentiment rises to 61% in the case of young people from the lower/lower middle class compared to the average (49%), which seems less concerned. Begona Gonzalez, Psychology student, explains that “part of the expectations of parents comes from what they consider to be best and what will work”. “Young people are frustrated because they are asking for something that is not working and that does not respond to the world. That breeds misunderstanding and lack of communication between generations,” she argues.
anna hwe, a secondary school music teacher, points out that her parents came to believe that meritocracy; that if you were the best in what you could offer you would do well. “In my case, the pressure of expectations has come later, when I have made academic decisions and have chosen what I want to specialize in. But there was no work. Then comes the question of why you have not become an economist or a lawyer. It is a pressure for which I am not prepared because I also believed that it was worth something specific. Now is when I have that feeling that I have made a mistake and that I am not up to what is expected of me. I don’t even know if I’m competent in my field since I can’t work from it,” she says.
“The truth is that the young people are coming up against a very complex socioeconomic situation for them. Spain is one of the countries of the European Union with a later emancipation, which is around 30 years. The youth unemployment data is also there. With everything, how can we not understand that feeling of frustration that they are showing”, reflected Pérez Coutado.
One explanation, he says, is that young people are having a harder time following linear, upward-progressing patterns of life that were perhaps more apparent in earlier generations, such as the transition to adulthood, the transition from school to work, or life. construction of a family home. Achieving all of this is increasingly unattainable, but it seems that alternative models are not arriving. Hence the majority (62%) believe that previous generations had an easier time progressing socially than they do now.
sensitive and proud
Those responsible for this work explain that the younger generations are more sensitive towards social and mental health problems, but they are also proud to be so. They are no longer as tolerant of jokes that ridicule minorities, although there is a gender distinction here: in general, 64 percent reject them, but the percentage rises to 75 in the case of girls. It may be because women have suffered more emotionally (63%) from comments made to them than boys (54%). Hence, they think more (71%) that society is too sensitive, compared to 50 percent of them.