By Paul Mabote
(Writer, Poet, Creative, Learner, Observer)
Perusing through my Facebook timeline the other day, I came across a disturbing post which read: “I’m sorry, but I honestly feel like we’ve exhausted the 1976 youth history. Can we start celebrating today’s youth?”
“Wait, What?! Are you?! How dare she?! How dare she disrespects the legacy of the 1976 youth Lom’ntu lo?!” A voice inside my head screamed.
Phela, the youth of ’76 was no doubt revolutionary! They had courage, they had a purpose, and they had heart – Power! But they did not have WhatsApp or Twitter, you see. It turns out that we, the modern generation, are no less revolutionary ourselves. Because in the same way that Safarina held up a trash-can lid as a weapon back in the day, you hold up a cracked-screen tablet today. We have the unprecedented convenience and resourcefulness of modern technology at our finger tips. That in itself is undeniable power, if you ask me. It is power we as today’s youth can utilize to fight our modern day struggles. Struggles of unemployment, lack of sex education, lack of support for entrepreneurs, the list goes on. It is also power we often find ourselves misusing by idly floating through the virtual clouds of social media, day in-day out.
Ain’t that something mara?
Times are changing
The fourth industrial revolution says that everything is online these days- movies, shopping, news, our family, our friends and their friends’ friends. We practically live online. We go online countless times daily. But the blinding truth is that when most of us go online, we neglect to take our hustle with us. We view our gadgets as mere notification gizmos and fail to see them as doorways to abundant opportunities. We fail to see them as robust weapons that the modern generation can utilize to make their biggest dreams come true and to ‘retype’ the history books.
More Chatterboxes, Less Cash Boxes
A perfect example is a friend of mine. Let us call him Jim. Jim is the seducer of words, the twister and bender of phrases, the ultimate Facebook Comedian. Jim posts about 20 status updates each day. Yes, Jim has free time for days. You see, my friend Jim has been unemployed for the past 5 years. He is not alone.
According to tradingeconomics.com, the rate of South African youth that were unemployed during the first quarter of 2019 stood at a startling 55.20%. Yet, Arthur Goldstuck’s South African Social Media Landscape Report for 2019 (Source: mbizcommunity.com), says that gaming and social media apps remain among the most downloaded and used apps in South Africa. This is a stark indication of where South Africans are spending majority of their time and their resources- in the form of internet data- on mobile games and social media.
So how come we are not exploiting the privileges of living in the modern information age? How can someone like Jim be struggling with money to type his CV, print it out, scan it and email it to potential employers, when he can easily do all of that on his smart phone? How can a young visual artist in KZN be struggling to sell his paintings when he can upload his work onto an online art gallery and reach thousands of potential art buyers? How can young entrepreneurs afford to have their companies deregistered when there are tons of articles and online institutions that offer business guidance and support? How can we be spending so much of our valuable time and data on Instagram when we are hungry and broke? Hmm?
What are you on?
The youth of today, with their different dreams and ambitions, can all better harness the power of social and digital media to inch in on success. While you are reposting that funniest clip on social media and fishing for reactions, someone out there is buying a Facebook ad to promote their fast food business. While you are grieving over your lack of funds for your business, someone out there just used their last money to buy ice cream so they can access the free KFC Wi-Fi to explore crowd-funding opportunities online. While you are busy editing your latest selfies to perfection for Instagram, some young person out there is saving up for a same time photo printer so that they can make some extra cash at social events. You can either be the one who stands by and ignores the dangerous open manhole in his community, or you can be the one who starts a digital petition to get the local municipality to do something about it.
We’ve got the power!
If education was the powerful weapon to change the world in ‘76, our smart phones are, arguably, the other potent weapon in the hands of today’s youth. Perhaps if we start to look at and use this powerful weapon as a tool to overcome our current social challenges, we too could someday be worthy of the same admiration and glory bestowed upon the youth of ’76.
Until then, let us talk about a #10yearchallenge and lol and Jiki Jiki.