By Rukudzo M Mangoma
MY four-year study at Great Zimbabwe University went by fast.
Throughout the programme, it was an intrigue how the development studies degree course content stimulated my
thinking.
It opened a new spectrum for me, especially the series on mandatory research assignments.
One area of life that captured my interest is that of the youth, especially the early part
of it.
I got the impression that while life has challenges for all age groups, it is more challenging for the youth than it is for other groups. It is not a stroll in the park for the 18 to 40-year-olds.
They are susceptible to manipulation by social media impressions that happiness is measured by one’s wealth while globalisation has removed filters, exposing youth to all sorts of impact.
Our parents were spared fast-paced influence brought about by globalisation and the lure of materialism.
Their influencers were localised, unlike ours which are from anywhere in the world.
They looked up to teachers, local musicians and priests as trendsetters and role models.
The older generation does not understand us because they were not subjected to the influences which are brought to bear upon us.
A smartphone in one’s hand now exposes one to influences from all over the globe.
Unlike in the past where one had to visit far-flung areas, these days a hand-held gadget is all what one requires to interact with people globally.
Our parents know not what to do with the young, hence they label us generation “X”, which means the unknown quantity or person.
Shifting economies and materialism were not as impactful on their lives as they are on us.
These stand as trying times for my generation in looking for a panacea to our problems.
In today’s society, the open market and globalisation result in laying off of workers and outsourcing work to other countries where it is cheaper.
This makes it more difficult for the young and inexperienced people to find jobs and further complicates the already problematic lives of youths.
Such a problem is referred to as shifting economies.
Zimbabwe used to sustain herself by manufacturing and exporting finished products.
However, today the economy is shifting to more of a service industry versus a manufacturing industry.
This means costs are cut and so are jobs to keep prices low.
Youths are stranded because they have university degrees focusing more on manufacturing than the service
industry.
We are sandwiched between a rock and a hard place, jostling for the few manufacturing jobs available.
The young cannot graduate or even drop out of school without going through the pains of joblessness.
Shifting economies have reduced the number of jobs and resulted in the few jobs available not paying and also being oversubscribed.
In the past, a high school graduate could work at a local factory for life and make a good living.
Nowadays, a graduate from college with multiple degrees or PhDs still struggles to find a job that pays enough to sustain a standard lifestyle.
Materialism is yet a new influence that my peers and I are battling with.
A tendency to prefer material possessions and physical comfort to spiritual values has crazed the youth.
We are living in a society that promotes materialism and perpetuating this malady of instilling bad habits in us the youth via social media.
Parents who spoil their children when they are young contribute to materialism.
Essentially, parents provide their children with whatever they want that is within their financial reach.
It is believed parents can even accumulate debts in an endeavour to appease their children.
A mentality of getting what you want and when you want it has been ingrained in us.
The unfortunate result is that there are devastating consequences for such behaviour in adult life.
Many youths are victims of shifting economies and materialism.
They have lost their grid reference for career goals, some even lose the meaning of life.
They turn to antisocial practices like gambling and
crime.
As the youth enter adulthood, they will find out that they will be stepping into no man’s island.
Their parents do not fully understand the goings-on confronting their children.
They cannot offer help or guidance. Meanwhile, the youth gets stranded in a maze of materialism and shifting
economies.
Rukudzo Misheck Mangoma is a graduate in Development Studies, keen on stimulating debate on developmental issues. He writes in his person capacity. Email: mangomarukudzo@yahoo.com

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