You may have seen the announcement by the German government asking young people to stay home. Instead of opting for the Castilian tremendousness, the Teutons have become Berlanguianos and have turned the testimonies of the veterans of World War II upside down creating a new breed of heroes, the university idlers. “We summoned all our courage and did what was expected of us. The only right thing. We did not nothing. Absolutely nothing. We were lazy like raccoons. Day and night we leave our asses at home and fight against the spread of the virus. “
If the ad has gone viral, it was probably because, in addition to exchanging paternalism for humor, in its handling of the topic a growing suspicion leaks into modern society. That the world would actually be a little better if everyone –including youth– Let’s be a little more lazy. Mere longing. Laziness, laziness or laziness are an impossible luxury. Stigmatized by the gaze of others, they always carry a component of bad conscience that makes it impossible to enjoy them. The bums are just those who can’t afford it.
It is reasonable to argue that most of the problems that human beings are going to face over the next few decades could be solved doing less things. Consuming less, eating less, moving less, working less, traveling less and other passive mechanisms that stop pandemics global or limit the effects of climate change. It’s not just about saving the planet, it’s about saving ourselves. Stress, anxiety, or depression ravage developed societies, and there is little doubt that always doing a little more than one can humanly do is a key factor.
Young people have to choose between two things: or be irresponsible killers of grandmothers or parasites
So maybe we should start to appreciate the nini mentality. Neither study, nor work, nor go out to party, nor anything. There have always been historical and economic reasons at hand to make the nini the great scapegoat to alleviate bad consciences in the post-crisis period. On the one hand, the reproach of squandering the inheritance of harder generations, who sacrificed so that their children could now enjoy doing nothing. On the other, the economic argument that unproductiveness automatically turns you into a parasite, forgetting that even more parasitic is job insecurity or a post-compulsory education system that functions as a ‘low cost’ commodity bazaar.
That is why it is ironic that the message that the authorities have to convey now is “don’t do things or you will kill your grandmother.” They are telling a generation that has been raised on the idea that hyperactivity is a good thing. While a handful of decades ago “stay a little bit at home” was the message that comforted grandparents and parents, today it has been replaced by a string of classes, language courses, sports, leisure alternatives, plans with friends and pseudo-cultural events. that are included within the miasma of “quality time”.
In my adolescence, the positive discourse of “you have to get good grades, but also go out to party” was beginning to become popular. The latter went from being something viewed with suspicion to a factor worthy of praise: the important thing was to do everything. The result, the generation with the most anxiety of history.
Young people can only choose between being two things: or being irresponsible killers of grandmothers or “nymphs” parasitic on the welfare state. They are always reproached for their attitude, but rarely do we realize that we tend to ask for things that are not achievable, if not contradictory. Take a shower and put away your clothes, study, be happy and have a rich and complex social life but don’t neglect your career, don’t complain if you feel bad and, above all, don’t make a bottle (but be careful with the jug). We know very well what we don’t want them to be, but we rarely have good ideas about what they could be.
Revenge or fear
This week, the ‘Financial Times‘published an article that opened the melon par excellence: with this of the pandemic, And what about the young? The start suggested that there was “a growing resentment” among those under 30, but in the small print of the testimonies there was not much generational anger, but basically fear. Fear of having a shitty job or never having one, of realizing that these months may have already taken an impossible dent in their professional careers. To be those losers that their parents told them they would be if they wasted time.
Every second lost, wasted or used in something useless is a second that they have lost in this constant competition against others
How could they not think about it, if they have grown up in the era of hyperproductivity. A constant shadow hangs over the younger generations: that every second lost, wasted or spent on something useless is a second that they have lost in that constant competition against others which is a labor market that is narrowing like the trash compactor from ‘Star Wars’. Even leisure must always have an objective, even if it is to occupy the quota of time that corresponds to each of the parents, to do productive contacts or develop skills, always the damn skills. The language of productivity has also tainted our personal relationships.
Experience has shown me that only a handful of forces of nature are genuinely active, unleashed whirlwinds of loquacity, wit and enthusiasm that not infrequently end up crashed, exhausted from themselves. The rest of us try to keep up with them with our tongues out, not realizing that just as not all of us were born to run the hundred meter sprint in less than ten seconds, for most imposed exuberance of the casual genius it is exceptional and perhaps undesirable. However, we measure ourselves and the young by the rod of the former, not by the human fallibility of the latter.
(Visual metaphor of the labor market, seen by young people)
So maybe it’s time to reclaim the vaguerity, to do nothing not to recharge batteries — another disgusting robotic metaphor — but for the sacrosanct exercise of practice emptiness. It is complicated, they are not created. Stop for a second to do nothing and you will see how difficult it is for you not to grab your phone, or divert your mind towards some commitment that you do not feel like in the least while you feel your nerves seize. The only ones who have managed this art to mastery are the ninis, perhaps the last Stoics of our day. Unlike us, adults stressed and severe with other people’s entertainment, are the only ones capable of knowing the value of to be, and not to do. Our smiling buddhas.