Why it isn’t entirely the fault of the Urban “Poor”

A few days ago Gayatri Jayaraman wrote an article for Buzzfeed highlighting the situation of urban “poor” kids and young adults.

Almost immediately the net went nuts with scathing criticism of the article, probably tipping at this article¬†by Irshad Daftari. Daftari’s piece was very well written, and provided a fair take on the matter. What I didn’t expect however, was everyone jumping on the opposition bandwagon hurling unfair judgements at the poor, well, judgement of millennials. Much of the criticism was too harsh (not so much Daftari’s piece, as some of the other articles and opinions), and uncalled for.

The criticism were many and fairly diverse, but the biggest gripe was that the Buzzfeed article encouraged and sympathised with the poor lifestyle choices of the millenials. Firstly, nothing about the article suggested or indicated encouraging poor spending or saving habits. The article merely stated a point of view. Sympathy, however, would’ve been a given considering the writer went through the phase herself.

Here’s my two cents:

While I’m just as annoyed at the yuppie generation spending every penny they can with no regard to their future and savings, I also believe their habits and behaviour cannot be entirely blamed on them. Why? That’s where the Buzzfeed article rightly mentions that part of the blame lies the upbringing, where ambitious parents these days want a “better” life for their kids, thereby working harder (sometimes 12-15 hrs) and then fill their kids palms with money and other material gratification (sometimes endlessly) to compensate for lack of time spent. (a recent example: I saw a 15 year old girl, who dropped tea on her phone, get a new one instantly. The phone? An iPhone 6 Plus 128 GB Gold that retails for over INR 90k). These kids then grow up, not knowing scarcity or monetary prudence which carries on into adult life. At no point does someone sit them down to tell them that money doesn’t come by easily, or that it doesn’t last forever if they’re not careful. If no one’s teaching them, how are they expected to learn? And from whom? Their peers? Their peers are in the same boat!

Another factor is the booming economy that has created so much wealth, raising the financial abilities across the board, thus increasing disposable income, in turn leading to increased and often irresponsible consumerism. Add that to the social media age that facilitates harboring dual personalities, one of which (online) millenials constantly feel the pressure to match false standards and you have a situation ripe for them to become delusional, especially about their entitlement.

True, they aren’t “poor” and yes, they are fully responsible for their actions, but what cannot be overlooked is that their actions are a consequence of a larger circumstance at play that is the making of the generation that came before them and the world created around them.

If nothing else, the Buzzfeed article¬†staretd a conversation that desperately needed to be started ever since the BPO boom from the late 90’s early 00’s. The problem has been seething beneath the surface but not addressed because large brands, corporations and banks stand to gain from irresponsible consumerism. Overreaching consumerism leads to loans, EMIs and credit cards which we are fully aware, that banks and brands are all to happy to dish out with glee as it adds to their bottom line and keeps the corporate sector happy. No one wants to shoot the proverbial golden goose. So we, yes we, have gone about our normal lives pretending everything was okay, when it clearly wasn’t.

I do not miss a chance to put anyone with a misplaced sense of entitlement in their rightful place. But that can either be done by completely disregarding the cause or origin of that delusion, or by providing firm direction with an empathetic heart.

I choose the later.